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Council takes steps to permit families to visit care homes

2018 Woman with carer at Birchwood Care Home

Having closed its care homes to all but essential visitors in March, West Berkshire Council is now taking steps to permit families to once again visit their loved ones safely and in accordance with current government guidelines.

Visiting brings comfort both to those who are visited and to those visiting. Some care home residents are living with dementia and have a limited understanding of events, including the Covid-19 pandemic - they may experience distress and confusion, which can be modified by the presence of familiar faces. Visits can also have a positive effect on diet and nutrition, and is a fundamental part of the care of each resident. 

Sara Ross, West Berkshire's Service Manager for Responsive Care Providers said:

"It was only because of the extreme circumstances faced at the outset of the pandemic that visits were curtailed, although they have continued in very specific cases such as end of life.  Getting visiting back underway is something that I, together with our Registered Care Home Managers, have been striving for." 

All visits will take place in the care home's garden, and the council is publishing a Visits Code, containing such elements as a booking system, a limit on visitors to two (who must be from the same household), social distancing, the wearing of appropriate PPE, etc. Each Registered Manager will always have the final say as to whether to permit a visit to take place.

Graham Bridgman, West Berkshire's Executive Member for Adult Social Care said:

"In March we recognised the risks of care homes remaining open to visitors.  We have done what we can to keep residents in touch with their families and friends, but nothing beats a personal visit. 

As the lockdown eased and there was more understanding about Covid-19, and testing became more widespread, we were keen to reintroduce visiting, so long as it was done with the safety of residents and staff paramount in our minds - I am delighted that we are now at that point."

Each care home will be able to provide a copy of the Visits Code to the families and friends of residents.