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BASW England response to changes in care home visiting guidelines for people in England

People in care homes resident in England will be able to receive two visitors indoors from Monday 12th April 2021.

BASW England welcomes the changes to the Department of Health and Social Care Guidance on care home visiting which was updated on 1 April 2021. The revisions include:

  • People in care homes will be able to nominate two people for regular indoor visits.
  • The two visitors will be able to visit together or separately as preferred.
  • Babies and toddlers will also be able to accompany visitors.
  • Visitors can hold hands, but hugging and other close physical contact is still not permitted.
  • Safe access to be promoted through pre-arranged visit dates and times, access to lateral flow testing prior to visits alongside the use of PPE and other infection control measures to be used during visits.
  • In addition to the two named visitors, people with higher care needs can also choose to nominate an essential care giver.
  • Visits by other friends or family members to continue with arrangements such as outdoor visiting, substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows.

Other key points:

  • Visits to care homes are not dependent on vaccination.
  • Inclusion on the Shielded Patient List (SPL) does not prevent a person in a care home from receiving visitors in the same way as other residents.
  • Changes over the coming weeks may include visitors carrying out lateral flow tests at home to support the increase of visitors to care homes, enabling more visits to take place.

BASW recognises the value and importance of working in partnership with families, friends, carers and providers and is aligned with organisations that have been and continue to advocate for safe access to care settings.

The care home visiting guidance, which comes into effect on the 12 April 2021 applies to care homes for working age and for older adults.

Whilst the changes are a further positive step in relation to the preservation of the Right to Private and Family Life: Article 8 Human Rights Act, visits to family, friends and loved ones outside of care homes remain subject to different guidance referred to as “outward visiting” and include tougher restrictions with a 14- day period of isolation on returning to the care home.

A report by Alison Holt Social Affairs Correspondent, BBC News features legal action being initiated by John’s Campaign against the government, challenging the requirement for people in care homes to be required to self-isolate for 14 days after a visit outside of care home has taken place.

Visits out of care homes: Outward visiting guidance includes the following:

  • A person making a visit out of the care home should isolate for 14 days on their return.
  • National coronavirus restrictions must be followed whilst out of the care home.
  • Visitors coming to the care home to meet a person for a visit outside the care home to follow the same infection control measures set for indoor visits.

Safe access for social workers to visit people in care and health settings continues to be by exception rather than routine even with greater access to regular testing and the roll out of the Coronavirus vaccine.  There is a heavy reliance on third party and limited information to make professional judgements affecting people’s lives.

Social workers uphold advocate and champion the human rights of individuals, groups, and communities in their day-to-day work. From the right to freedom from abuse, the right to private and family life and the right to liberty and security, social workers ensure people are aware of their rights and are regularly engaged in upholding those rights for people with additional needs and for those whose circumstances mean they may not be able to defend their rights themselves.

Please continue to support our campaign to ensure social workers can respond to the human rights challenges of Covid 19, safeguard and promote the wellbeing of people and families: Test, Safe Access, Rights