13 April 2021
Government guidance has dropped a blanket ban stopping people aged over 65 years from leaving care homes to take trips outside on the condition that residents self-isolate for 14 days.
On 8 March, the Government’s guidance changed to say trips to see family or friends “should only be considered” for under-65s while national Covid-19 restrictions apply, because they increase the risk of bringing Covid-19 into a care home.
The group’s campaign co-founder Julia Jones said the 440,000 people living in care homes include “some who moved in through their own volition, with full mental capacity, never guessing that this simple freedom, enjoyed by everyone else in the population, apart from prisoners, could so easily be denied them.”
She added: “Those who cannot make their own choices have relatives and friends who would normally be glad to take responsibility but have been excluded from choices.”
From 12 April, the updated Government guidance, Visits Out of Care Homes, applies. This allows older people in care homes to go out to garden centres, parks and families’ gardens on condition they self-isolate afterwards. It states: “If a visit out does take place, all members of the household involved in the visit should have had a negative result from a Covid test taken immediately preceding the visit out”.
But it says the most significant measure to manage the associated risk is the requirement that a resident making a visit out of the care home should isolate for 14 days on their return. This is to “ensure that, in the event they have unknowingly become infected while out of the home, they minimise the chances of passing that infection on to other residents and staff.”
The guidance added: “In many cases, holding visits in the care home will be the safer, more convenient and preferable way of residents spending time with family and friends.”
Campaign group John’s Campaign has said that self-isolation is unnecessary because care homes now have rapid testing, designated visitors are permitted and residents are vaccinated. It launched a legal challenge against the Government over the “discriminatory” restriction in the 8 March guidance. It now wants the Government to drop the guidance on self-isolation too.
The guidance, Visits Out of Care Homes, updated on 7 April, is available here.