Beta

This is a new service - your feedback will help us to improve it.

COVID-19 - Visiting care homes in Walsall

For people living in care homes, regular visits from family and friends are important for maintaining close relationships and supporting health and wellbeing.

Under step 4 of the government's roadmap out of lockdown, every care home resident can have named visitors who are able to enter the care home for regular visits. There is no limit on the number of named visitors that a single resident can have and no nationally set limit on the number who can visit in a single day.

Also, From Tuesday 4 May, residents have been able to leave their care homes to visit a friend or family member’s garden, or go on walks in places such as parks and public gardens and beaches. They do not have to self-isolate when they return. Full details are available in the government’s visits out of care homes: supplementary guidance.

Please be mindful of care home residents when visiting care homes and their potential increased vulnerability to COVID-19, even if vaccinated. Take proper precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep yourself, your loved ones and care home residents and staff safe. 

Further changes from 19 July 2021

Under step 4 of the roadmap, from 19 July 2021:

  • every care home resident can have ‘named visitors’ who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits. There is no limit on the number of ‘named visitors’ that a single resident can have and no nationally set limit on the number who can visit in a single day
  • every care home resident can choose to nominate an essential care giver who may visit the home to attend to essential care needs. The essential care giver should be enabled to visit in all circumstances, including if the care home is in outbreak (but not if the essential care giver or resident are COVID-positive)
  • named visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum (excluding essential care givers). Physical contact like handholding is acceptable if hand washing protocols are followed. Close personal contact such as hugging presents higher risks but will be safer if it is between people who are double vaccinated, without face-to-face contact, and there is brief contact only
  • care homes can also continue to offer visits to friends or family members through arrangements such as outdoor visiting, rooms with substantial screens, visiting pods, or from behind windows.

This guidance is dependent on COVID-19 rates remaining low. If a care home is situated in a local community with high or rapidly rising levels of infection, and/or where there is evidence of variants of concern, this will be reviewed.

Read a summary of the government guidance for visiting care homes from 19 July 2021 

Visitors aged 11 years and over should take a symptom-free rapid COVID-19 test every time they visit. It is advised that children between the ages of 2 and 11 are also tested. Read more on how to test your child or watch this video on how to test your child.

Walsall Council encourages and supports care homes in Walsall to provide safe visiting opportunities.

For further information, please read the full government guidance on care home visiting

When you can visit

It is up to the care home provider to decide if, when and how you can visit.

Care homes must involve you, the family member or friend you’d like to visit and any other relevant professionals in all decisions about visiting arrangements.

Named visitor scheme

The government announced the named visitor scheme for care homes from 8 March 2021, with a single named visitor permitted for care home residents. As part of Step 3 of the roadmap, the number of named family members or friends able to visit care homes has also increased from two to five, with a maximum of two visitors allowed at any one time or on any given day. Families and residents should discuss and agree the nominated individuals.   

Named visitors must not show symptoms of COVID-19, have a test on every visit, wear appropriate PPE and avoid close contact. Visitors must return their negative test at the care home before being admitted. The person and their named visitors may be able to hold hands but will be asked to avoid any closer contact. 

Safety measures for visitors

You should follow any advice that the care home gives you when visiting. You should also take all of the normal precautions such as washing your hands, maintaining social distancing and wearing a face covering unless exempt.

Do not visit if you have tested positive for COVID-19, are self-isolating following contact or travel, or you’ve experienced any of the following COVID-19 symptoms in the previous 10 days:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell.

Please stay at home, along with anyone you live with and book a COVID-19 test online or by calling 119 and self-isolate until you have had your results.  

 

Getting tested at care homes

Before entry to the care home, visitors are required to take a COVID-19 symptom-free test using a rapid lateral flow device. While waiting for the results visitors will be asked to wait in their car or in a waiting area. Visitors should allow an additional 45 minutes to an hour for this testing to take place.

If a visitor returns a positive test they will need to leave the care home immediately and self-isolate. The care home will provide visitors with further guidance on returning for visits after a self-isolation period. Find out more on the stay at home guidance for households with confirmed COVID-19 infection.

If a visitor returns a negative test, the national guidance advises that if the visitor is wearing appropriate PPE and follows other infection control measures then some close contact may be possible. However, contact should be limited to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, which will generally be increased by very close contact, and visitors must follow any guidance the care home itself provides on physical contact.

Document: Find out more on visiting your relatives in a care home

Read the government’s guidance on care home visiting

COVID-19 vaccinations (visitors and care home residents)

Even if a visitor or the person they are visiting has had the COVID-19 vaccination, the above guidance must still be followed to keep themselves, their loved ones and other people living and working in the care home as safe as possible.

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against COVID-19. Find out more from the NHS about the COVID-19 vaccine

Visiting outside care homes

Opportunities for care home residents to make visits out of the home are an important part of care home life. Care homes should support residents to leave the care home where possible to visit family and friends safely and in a way that considers the needs of all their residents and what is possible within the facilities and resources of the care home.

Even as vaccine coverage increases, there are still risks involved in visits out. It’s important that care homes, residents, family and friends take steps to manage and mitigate these risks.

You can find more about out of care home visits from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Essential care givers

For some residents, a visit with a greater degree of personal care may be central to maintaining their immediate health and wellbeing.

In such cases, in addition to the named visitor(s) permissions and with the agreement of the care home, the visitor(s) will be enabled and supported to provide this care and they will be able to visit more often. They will have access to the same PCR and rapid lateral flow testing and personal protective equipment arrangements as a member of care home staff. 

Every individual care home resident will have different needs and the exact arrangements will need to be agreed between the care home, resident and their family (with professional support if helpful). This should follow an individualised assessment of the resident’s needs. 

Gifts for care home residents

Staff will discuss with visitors any items they wish to bring with them on their visit, such as a gift. It will need to be something that can be easily cleaned by the care home to prevent cross contamination. For example, a box of chocolates that could be sanitised with wipes.

COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes

If visiting restrictions are put in place at a care home, for example due to an outbreak of the virus, alternative ways of communicating between residents and their families and friends should be offered. The care home should also provide regular updates to residents’ loved ones on their mental and physical health, how they are coping and identify any additional ways they might be better supported, including any cultural or religious needs.