Can indoor visits continue over the festive period?
Yes. People living in care homes should be supported to celebrate with their family and friends, if they wish to. Care Inspectorate Wales recently wrote to Responsible Individuals setting out its expectations around visiting.
Care home providers are advised to risk assess visits in line with Welsh Government visiting guidance, making decisions based on the best interests of residents’ overall physical and mental health and well-being.
Do visitors need to take a COVID-19 test?
Yes. Visitors (including children aged 11 and over) should take a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test and should show a negative test result before entering the care home.
Parental consent should be sought in relation to tests for children.
Visitors may take LFD tests away from the care home, at the provider’s discretion.
Tests should be taken within the 24 hours before the visit.
People should not visit a care home if any of the following apply:
- they have any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or are feeling unwell generally (including diarrhoea or vomiting)
- they have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 10 days
- they have been knowingly exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 10 days
- anyone in their household or anyone they have been in close contact with has symptoms of COVID-19
- they have been advised to self-isolate by a contact tracer from NHS Test Trace Protect
- they have returned from a red list country or territory in the last 10 days (unless the visit is in exceptional circumstances)
Are there limits on the number, frequency or duration of visits?
While there are no specific limits on the number of visitors; however, we recommend that care homes limit visitors to frequent visitors who understand and can comply with requirements to keep residents and staff safe.
There are no specific restrictions on the frequency of visits or how long visitors may stay. However, care homes should manage this according to their staffing capacity and risk assessments.
Do visitors need to wear a face covering?
Visitors should wear face coverings on entry to the home. They should also continue to wear face coverings once they are in the resident’s room or designated visiting room. Face coverings should be worn by visitors during visits to children's homes, unless it would cause undue distress to the child. The care home visiting guidance has been amended accordingly.
Do visitors need to physically distance from the person they’re visiting?
Although social distancing does not have to be maintained once the visitor is in the resident’s room or the designated visiting area we suggest encouraging caution with close physical interactions (for example hugs, kisses). This presents less risk if it is between people who are fully vaccinated, without face-to-face contact, and there is brief contact only. Visitors are advised to wash hands before and after holding hands, and cover any broken skin with a waterproof plaster beforehand. Gloves are not necessary.
Can visitors bring gifts?
Yes. Visitors may bring gifts, including food and drink.
Can visitors share a meal with residents?
Yes. Food and drink may be shared between people and their visitors.
Visitors may join in with group meals and activities with residents other than the person they are visiting, in line with the care home’s risk assessment. Risk assessments should consider how infection transmission could be minimised, such as limiting close contact between visitors and other residents within the home, increasing ventilation, washing hands regularly and visitors wearing face coverings when moving around the home.
Can entertainers visit care homes?
Yes. Entertainers and people running activities within the home, e.g. quizzes, music and games, are encouraged to support residents’ well-being. Care home providers should risk assess these events, in the same way as other types of visit.
Entertainers, like all visitors, should take a LFD test within 24 hours before the visit and show a negative test result on arrival.
If the care home has an outbreak can people still visit?
Essential visitors may continue visiting while the care home is in outbreak. However visits should not happen if the essential visitor is COVID-19 positive. Visits should not happen if the resident is COVID-19 positive, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Public Health Wales’ latest guidance to support care homes during outbreaks (version 4.9) can be found here.
Can residents go out to visit friends and family, including overnight stays or longer, as well as other venues (e.g. pubs, cinemas, theatres, carol services, etc)?
Yes. Providers should risk assess, with the resident (and their family / advocate, as appropriate), decisions for the resident to go out. Isolation is not required for residents following a visit out, including overnight stays.
Wider guidance on good hand hygiene and requirements on use of face coverings issued by Welsh Government should be followed whilst residents are away from the home.
Providers should be aware of the requirements around the COVID Pass in Wales to support visits to certain venues, such as cinemas, theatres and night clubs.
With regards to transportation, providers should be aware that face coverings are required on public transport, unless someone is exempt. If the care home is using its own vehicle then cleaning protocols should be in place.
Friends and family members collecting residents in cars should minimise the number of passengers. Ideally this should be the driver only with the resident using the back seat; this should be risk assessed according to the resident’s individual circumstances. Windows should be opened, if tolerated.
Residents should be supported to take a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test following a visit out of the home. Testing should start on the day after the visit out and should be undertaken every day for 7 days (days 2-8) and thereafter on alternate days (days 10, 12 and 14). People are not required to self-isolate during this period where results are negative.
The advice on testing on return to the home does not apply to children living in care homes who would test in line with the testing requirements for the general public.
Can residents go out if the care home has an outbreak?
Visits out should cease during a COVID-19 outbreak, apart from for urgent medical reasons. Care home providers should communicate any changes to visiting policies to residents and their relatives to ensure they are kept informed.
What is the guidance for seasonal decorations?
Residents and staff should enjoy a festive atmosphere this season.
Care home providers are advised to:
- Use single season use disposable decorations or decorations that are cleanable/wipeable; these decorations should be part of daily/weekly cleaning schedules depending on where they are placed e.g. person’s bedroom, main area.
- Use non-residue fixings like blue tack or staples that leave no sticky surface to attract micro-organisms.
- Minimise handling by residents (e.g. by displaying decorations at a height where they can’t be touched), but if beneficial and residents want to touch decorations, then assist with hand hygiene.
- Risk assess decorations in relation to infection transmission and ease of cleaning particularly if there is an outbreak in the home
- Thoroughly decontaminate all decorations before storage and store them in sealed containers away from clean goods e.g. clean linen, personal protective equipment (alternatively, dispose of at the end of season if they cannot be decontaminated).
Residents can display their own personal decorations and tree in their own room, if they wish to.