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Statement on our advice and support for safe care homes visits

Older man walking with woman outdoors
Guidance for care home providers for visitors during Covid

We’ve written to all care homes to support them in continuing to provide safe visiting opportunities during this third national lockdown.

We know how important visits are for supporting the health and wellbeing of people living in care homes and their relationships with friends and family so we’ve provided them with an overview of how this should work in Sheffield.  

Care home providers decide if, when and how someone can visit and our guidance is that Care Providers must involve the family member or friend they’d like to visit, the visitor and any other relevant professionals in all decisions about visiting arrangements.

Care homes must take all steps possible to enable safe, regular visiting opportunities and can’t impose a blanket ban on visits. They must complete an individual risk assessment and visiting/contact plan with every resident and consider the rights of residents who may lack the relevant mental capacity needed to make particular decisions. 

They must always allow visits in exceptional circumstances such as end of life, extreme distress or depression, make visits as Covid-19 secure as possible and pause visiting arrangements, except in exceptional circumstances such as end of life, extreme distress or depression, in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in the home. 

Visitors should return a negative COVID-19 test before they visit.

If they have a negative test, the national guidance advises that if they are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and they follow other infection control measures then some close contact may be possible. However, contact should be limited to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, which will generally be increased by very close contact, and visitors must follow any guidance the care home itself provides on physical contact.

If a visitor tests positive, they should immediately leave the premises and self-isolate at home. The care home will provide them with further guidance and support.

If visiting is paused, care homes must keep residents, family and friends informed, and maintain alternative means of contact between residents and their loved ones such as phone and video calls.

Care homes should support residents to leave the care home to visit family and friends safely and in a way that takes into account the needs of all their residents and what is possible within the facilities and resources of the care home.

Councillor George Lindars-Hammond, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care said: “We are providing as much advice and support as we can to care homes to support their visitors. We know how much pressure care homes are under and they know that if they have any issues or questions about visiting arrangements they can contact us for advice and support at providercovid19@sheffield.gov.uk. We’re in regular contact with all care homes and here to provide them with what they need to support safe visiting. We anticipate this position will remain over the winter months, but we will keep our approach to care home visiting under review and communicate any changes to our position with all care homes.”

Our full guidance is at Covid-19 - visiting a care home