Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services
Coronavirus continues to present a challenge for all us, particularly to families with loved ones living in care homes.
On 28 August, we published updated guidance for care home providers about visiting arrangements. This set out how more routine indoor visits could take place, subject to dynamic risk assessments of the local circumstances and needs of the individual home and its residents.
I am pleased indoor visits have been able to take place, giving those living in care homes an opportunity to reconnect and reunite with loved ones. There are clear benefits of face-to-face visits and I am grateful to care home providers and local authorities for all the work to ensure these visits have been able to safely take place.
However, we must always be aware that coronavirus has not gone away and that our care home residents are at an increased risk of the most serious consequences of the virus.
Since the publication of the guidance to enable indoor visiting to resume, we have seen a general increase in coronavirus cases across Wales and some sharp and sudden rises in some parts of Wales. This has resulted in community transmission, and local restrictions being introduced in several local authority areas in South Wales. .
Local authorities in these hotspot areas, working in collaboration with public health experts, have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend visiting to care homes in all but the most compassionate of cases to protect residents from the risk of infection and illness.
I fully support the need for these decisions to be made locally and collaborative decision making with Public Health Wales through the incident management team (IMT) process to ensure a balance is maintained between protecting people’s public health from the risks posed by the virus and maintaining their continued wellbeing. It is important that opportunities for visiting continue to be sustained in areas where it remains safe to do so.