All care home residents will be able to participate in more out-of-home visits without having to isolate on their return, the government has announced.
From Tuesday 4 May, residents will be able to leave their care homes to visit a friend or family member’s garden, or go on walks in places such as parks, public gardens and beaches, and they will not have to self-isolate when they return.
Residents must be accompanied by either a care worker or nominated visitor, and follow the government guidelines of washing hands regularly, keeping social distance, and remaining outside, in line with step 2 of the roadmap.
The changes come as the data shows cases continuing to fall, meaning it is now much safer for care home residents to leave their homes. Latest statistics show that 95% of residents have received their first dose of the vaccine and 71% have received their second. In addition, keeping visits outdoors will ensure any risk is minimised as much as possible.
Commenting on the change, James said:
This has been a deeply challenging time for care home residents and their families.
As cases continue to fall, it is a huge relief that families and friends can be reunited in safe, outdoor environments.
Visits out of the care home should take place solely outdoors, except for the use of toilet facilities, with no visits to indoor spaces (public or private) and avoiding the use of public transport where possible.
An exemption will be in place for those who wish to vote in person in the upcoming local elections, as long as they follow national coronavirus restrictions and measures in place at polling stations. While the majority of residents will have made use of postal votes, or a proxy, those who prefer to vote in person can do so on 6 May.
Arrangements in areas with high, or rapidly rising, levels of infection in the local community, and/or variants of concern, will seek additional local advice from directors of public health.
Guidance on visits out of care homes will be kept under review, including, when the data shows it is safe, the requirement for residents to isolate on their return from a visit.