Last reviewed 28 July 2020

Following the publication of new guidance on 22 July, the ban on visiting care home residents in England has been lifted.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has acknowledged how the isolating effects of lockdown have been difficult for residents and families. It said now, as the rate of community transmission has fallen, care homes will be able to arrange visits based on new guidance to limit further outbreaks and protect staff and residents.

Care Minister Helen Whately said the latest guidance maximises the input of local professionals, who will have the greatest awareness of community transmission in their area, while taking into account the needs of individual residents.

Local directors of public health will, with their authorities, lead the decision-making process for care home visits. Thorough risk assessments will take place based on specific care homes and the community context and appropriate safety precautions will be required, including booking the visits in advance and using face coverings and social distancing measures.

Care home providers are asked to encourage all visitors to wear a face mask and to wash their hands thoroughly before and after putting it on and taking it off.

Visitors should wear appropriate further personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves and aprons, depending on the requirements of their visit, and providers should also consider whether visits could take place in a communal garden or outdoor area that does not require access through indoor spaces.

To reduce risk, visits that do go ahead should be limited to a single constant visitor per resident, wherever possible, thus limiting the overall number of visitors to the care home.

The guidance, Update on Policies for Visiting Arrangements in Care Homes, is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visiting-care-homes-during-coronavirus.