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Residents of nursing homes have been allowed to make more visits without having to self-isolate, government announces UK News

All nursing home residents will be allowed to make more visits without having to self-isolate upon their return, the government said.

From Tuesday, May 4, residents will also be able to leave their care homes to visit a friend or family member’s garden, or stroll through parks, public gardens and beaches.

They must be accompanied by either a social worker or a designated visitor and follow government guidelines to wash their hands regularly, maintain social distancing and stay outdoors, per step two of the sheet of road.

Ministers say changes come as Covid-19 cases continue to decline – meaning it is now ‘much safer’ for nursing home residents, who are among the most vulnerable to Covid-19 , to leave their home.

They said keeping visits outside will ensure any risk is minimized as much as possible.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We know how difficult this time has been for nursing home residents, so I am happy that they can now leave their homes to be reunited with their loved ones outside.

“As the data continues to move in the right direction and restrictions ease, my priority is to increase the number of resident visits in the coming weeks in a safe and controlled manner.”

Care Minister Helen Whately said: “I know residents and their families have found restrictions on movement outside of care homes extremely difficult. This is one more step towards a return to normalcy, while protecting nursing homes from the continued risk of Covid-19.

“As part of this interim update ahead of the next stage of the roadmap, nursing home residents will also be able to leave to spend time outdoors. I know this is long overdue for those who haven’t had the chance to enjoy travel. I look forward to encouraging more sightseeing and travel in the future as we turn the tide on this cruel virus. “

Sheila Hall, of North Shields, sees her mother for the first time in six months at Eothen Homes in Wallsend
Sheila Hall, of North Shields, sees her mother for the first time in six months at Eothen Homes in Wallsend

To participate in outdoor activities, residents will be accompanied by a member of the care home staff or one of their designated visitors and they cannot meet as a group as residents of the care homes are most exposed to Covid-19.

Visits outside the retirement home must take place only outdoors, with the exception of the use of toilets, without visiting interior spaces (public or private) and avoiding the use of public transport when that is possible.

A waiver will be in place for those who wish to vote in person in the upcoming local elections provided they comply with national coronavirus restrictions and measures in place at polling stations.

While the majority of residents have resorted to postal or proxy voting, those who prefer to vote in person can do so on May 6.

Senior Adult Social Care Nurse Professor Deborah Sturdy said: “The pandemic has been such an incredible challenge for people living in nursing homes and our social service staff have done a heroic job to ensure the safety and support of their residents.

“I know this change of focus will be very welcome by many and give so many a chance to leave their homes safely.”

Arrangements in areas with high or rapidly increasing infection levels in the local community and / or Variants of Concern (VoC) will require additional local guidance from public health directors.

The latest statistics show that 95% of residents received their first dose of the vaccine and 71% received their second.

Residents who have tested positive or are showing symptoms of Covid-19 must self-isolate and therefore could not leave the nursing home.

In the event of an outbreak, all residents must self-isolate and visits would be suspended to prevent the spread of the virus.