Care home visiting

Visiting restrictions for care homes in England have been relaxed by the government as the Covid omicron wave has begun to pass.

Since Monday (31 January) there has been no limit on numbers of visitors and self-isolation periods for residents who test positive have been cut from 14 days to 10 days with further reductions for those testing negative on days 5 and 6.

Care workers are no longer required to take weekly PCR tests but are asked to take lateral flow tests before their shifts instead.

The easing of visiting restrictions came as 86.5% of all care home residents had had their booster jab, shown to be 92% effective in preventing hospitalisation.

Care minister Gillian Keegan said unlimited visits would now be allowed.  “The changes announced today are backed by scientists, ensuring we all have more freedoms from coronavirus, including care home residents and their families.”

But Nadra Ahmed, chair of the National Care Association, warned that the lifting of restrictions would be tricky for care providers.

“This will come with some challenges because the virus is still out there and we also know that up to 50% of services are in outbreak at this moment in time,” she told the BBC last week.

“It is about that safety and the responsibility that is on the provider to make it all happen and keep everybody safe.  Those are the worries that we would have.”