Government has set out how care homes can support families and visitors to visit residents from 8 March.

Care homes, local health partners, families and residents can work together to make care home visits as safe as possible for everyone. Minimise risks wherever possible to help family and friends spend time together.

Visits to residents in care homes should be supported wherever they can happen safely.

The registered manager of each care home is responsible for setting the visiting policy and for considering the individual needs of each resident.

Each resident will be able to nominate a single named visitor who can come into the care home if they test negative on every visit, wear the right personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow all infection control measures. People may wish to hold hands, but bear in mind that any contact increases risk. Physical contact like hugging must not take place.

For some residents, a visit with a greater degree of personal care may be critical for their immediate health and wellbeing. The care home and the family can agree that an ‘essential care giver’ can provide this care.

They will be able to visit more often and have the same testing and PPE arrangements as care home staff.

Outdoor and screened visits are an option for more family members to be involved. Social distancing, PPE and good hand hygiene are still very important.

Visits in exceptional circumstances, such as end of life, should always be supported.

It is essential that visiting is supported by good infection control – this includes social distancing, PPE and hand hygiene while in and around the care home – including during the visit itself.

If there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the care home, unfortunately visiting will have to stop until the outbreak is over. This is to protect vulnerable residents, staff and visitors.