Care Home Visiting in a COVID-19 World

A new iteration of the Government guidance on visiting in care homes was issued on 30.12.21 to reflect the Omicron variant. The visiting out guidance is now also part of that guidance.

To note:

  • every care home resident can nominate up to 3 visitors who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits (this number does not include essential care givers or preschool age children)
  • since September 2021, if no further positives are identified in the 2 rounds of whole home outbreak testing, subject to the HPT risk assessment, then the outbreak restrictions can be lifted. This could mean that outbreak restrictions are only in place for 7 to 8 days in some outbreaks. However, outbreak controls may be in place for up to 28 days following the last positive case due to Omicron variant. This appears to be a decision for the local HPT.
  • anyone who is fully vaccinated, and has been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, does not need to self-isolate if they receive a negative PCR test result and take daily rapid lateral flow tests until 10 days after their last exposure to the positive case. We asked for clarity on this point as it differs from the 7 days mentioned in other communications today. DHSC has told us that 10 days is the correct number.
  • the testing regime has changed for staff and essential care givers: 3 LFTs a week + PCR test. Essential care givers are also subject to rapid response daily testing in the event of an outbreak
  • Care home residents who have had 2 doses of the vaccine, or are exempt from vaccination, should not have to isolate for 14 days after most visits out of the care home, but should take a lateral flow test every second day day for 10 days following the visit out. This does not apply in the case of an emergency stay in hospital or visits deemed to be high-risk following an individual risk assessment. In these instances isolation for 14 days is required.
  • Care home residents who have not received at least 2 doses of the vaccine, and are not exempt from vaccination, should not go on visits out of the care home unless they isolate for 14 days after the visit out. DHSC states that this ‘is a necessary precaution following clinical advice in light of a more transmissive variant of COVID-19’
  • There is an increased emphasis on the importance of boosters

Some of the elements of the previous more permissive guidance remains. It continues to state that visiting should be enabled and shouldtake place wherever is most comfortable for the resident, where this is safe to do so.

Below you can find a link to our ‘Partners in Care’ resource which will help you implement this new guidance. There are also links to previous statements and campaigns to enable visiting in care homes.