By Tony Winterburn • 16 November 2020 • 10:23
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock Says All Care Homes Will Be Allowed Visits For Christmas as Trial Starts.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that all care homes will be able to allow visits for Christmas, this news comes as there is growing criticism of delays in introducing safety measures.
As a trial at 20 homes finally gets underway – allowing relatives of residents to have pre-visit Covid tests – the health secretary said testing would be available across the country for the festive period. Mr Hancock did stress however that the final decision whether to allow visits rested with individual home-owners and local councils, but said: “I hope to have that in place for all care homes by Christmas.”
Under the current rules, friends and family can often only see loved ones through ‘prison-style’ screens, or windows. Others homes only allow outdoor or drive-through visits or sometimes none at all.
Confronted with a Parkinson’s-sufferer unable to visit his wife, who has Alzheimer’s, Mr Hancock described such cases as “heartbreaking”. But he warned: “When this disease gets into our homes we know that people in care homes are particularly vulnerable to it.” And he added: “This rollout will be a challenge. We have got to make sure the right rules and protocols are in place so that the testing keeps people safe.”
Care home visits advice impractical, say charities
The government was facing criticism over its guidance on safe visits to care homes in England. Labour and a number of charities had described the suggestions, including floor-to-ceiling screens, designated visitor pods and window visits, as impractical. Alzheimer’s Society has said it “completely misses the point”. Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the guidance was “non-exhaustive”.
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