CARE HOME VISITING GUIDANCE CAUSING CONFUSION FOR FAMILIES

A LONELY SUMMER FOR CARE HOME RESIDENTS

Many will remember the heart-wrenching images of families visiting residents in care homes at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – gazing through the window of the home just to get a glimpse of their loved ones.  However, this has now been replaced with confusion and turmoil for the 400,000 plus care home residents and their families across the country as the new guidance over visitors to care homes is interpreted differently by different care providers.

GUIDANCE GIVES RELIEF TO SOME

Since July when lockdown eased in England many care home providers have been facilitating one-to-one visits for families in their gardens as we have been able to enjoy the warmer climate.  Whilst clearly this is better than the forced separation endured by many families, it has not enabled families to maintain meaningful contact that is so important to those living in care homes, where loneliness and isolation has been prevalent during the last six months when visits were restricted and outbreaks in homes managed.  For those living with conditions like dementia, it will have been extremely difficult to comprehend.

The new guidance focuses on re-opening care homes ‘in a way that is safe and proportionate to their localised understanding of the risk’ according to the Care Provider Alliance guidance (a body representing private and community care providers). Furthermore, the Government guidance states that ‘To limit risks, where visits do go ahead, this should be limited to a single constant visitor, per resident wherever possible.  This is to limit the overall numbers of visitors to the care home and risk of infection.’  Of course, to families up and down the country any easing of visiting restrictions has been welcomed. However, the policy adopted by individual homes and care home groups has been varied as they balance operational decisions, around risks and benefits to guide their policy on visitors.

INCREASING ISOLATION IN CARE HOMES

Many families are faced with the fact that their loved ones’ care home will just not be opening and are adopting a cautious approach given the potential risk of a second wave of Covid-19, new restrictions issued by the Government in September, as well as the usual winter pressures they face each year.  For many families who have not seen loved ones in an intimate or connected way for several months this has been hugely upsetting and worrying.  The most significant impact however has been on those living in care homes who are facing increasing loneliness and isolation, which has affected psychological and emotional well-being.  Many residents in a care home are living with cognitive impairment, like dementia or some form of memory loss.  Not seeing familiar family and friends for such a long time could see a further severing of cognitive connection with those they love.

ONE-TO-ONE CARE AT HOME HAS FAR REACHING BENEFITS

Live-in care provided by a dedicated and experienced carer who lives with you in your home focused on providing high-quality care, support and social enjoyment has been preferred by many families during the pandemic.

Also, live-in care is and, continues to be the safest form of care.  As we saw earlier this year in the care home sector, risk of transmission is exacerbated given the number of touch and contact points in a care home environment, as well as the volume of interactions from staff and other health professionals involved in providing care to residents.  With live-in care, you are receiving care in your own home, in a controlled environment with minimal touch points, where interactions can also be minimised.  It enables families to visit in a safe way that means families and loved ones can remain connected, whilst respecting social distancing and other Government guidance.  For those living with dementia it enables them to continue to have the familiarity of the same carer caring for them and all in the comfort of their own home, surrounded by those close to them.

Find out more about how Oxford Aunts have been providing live-in care throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.  Or call our friendly and approachable team on 01865 791107 to see how we can help you and your family make the right care choices.

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