The updated guidance for care homes in England comes into effect on Thursday, November 5, and the announcement by the government has “devastated” The Alzheimer’s Society.
“It completely misses the point, this attempt to protect people will kill them,” said its chief executive officer Kate Lee.
The guidance suggests:
- Visitors and residents enter through different entrances, meet in Covid-secure areas/pods separated by floor-to-ceiling screens, and visitors should not enter or pass through the care home
- Window visits where visitors don’t need to come inside the care home or they remain in their car, and the resident is socially distanced
- Outdoor visits – with one other person – in areas which can be accessed without anyone going through a shared building
- Virtual visits, with care homes encouraging the use of video calls
“The prison style screens the government proposes – with people speaking through phones – are frankly ridiculous when you consider someone with advanced dementia can often be bed-bound and struggling to speak,” Ms Lee said.
“They won’t understand and will be distressed by what’s going on around them.”
However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said care homes “should feel empowered by this new guidance to look at safe options to allow visits to care homes that suit their residents and facilities”.
“We’ve seen some really innovative solutions used to help families see each other safely, face-to-face, which has been life-changing for some.
He said he knew “how heart-breaking and incredibly frustrating it has been for families and friends who haven’t been able to see their loved ones” during the pandemic, adding that “we must allow families to reunite in the safest way possible”.
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