Care Provider Visitor Guidance
Visitors should not enter the care home if they are feeling unwell, even if they have tested negative for COVID-19, are fully vaccinated and have received their booster. Transmissible viruses such as flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and norovirus can be just as dangerous to care home residents as COVID-19. If visitors have symptoms that suggest COVID-19, they should avoid the care home until at least 5 days after they feel better. For other suspected or confirmed infections follow advice specific to that infection.
Care homes should ask visitors to follow IPC processes put in place by the care home, such as practicing hand hygiene and wearing appropriate PPE, to ensure visits can happen safely noting additional requirements for face masks may be in place. Visitors should consider taking up any COVID-19 and flu vaccines they are eligible for.
Visitors to care homes do not routinely need to wear a face mask at all times in the care setting, however there remain a number of circumstances where it is recommended that visitors to the care setting wear a face mask to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
- If the person they are visiting is known or suspected to have COVID-19 (recommended Type IIR fluid-repellent surgical mask).
- If the visitor is a household or overnight contact of someone who has had a positive test result for COVID-19.
- If the care setting is in a COVID-19 outbreak.
- If a care recipient is particularly vulnerable to severe outcomes from COVID-19 mask wearing may be considered on an individual basis in accordance with their preferences.
- If the care recipient would prefer visitors to wear a mask while visiting them then this should be supported.
We know you are aware that contact with relatives and friends is fundamental to care home residents’ health and wellbeing and visiting should be encouraged. As you will be aware, in March 2022 all government restrictions on visiting within care settings were removed (with the exception of infection prevention and control measures during an active outbreak). The ‘Essential Care Giver’ (ECG) role was removed and instead, during an outbreak, residents can have one visitor. In July the guidance was further updated to clarify that this meant ‘one visitor at a time’
(with no limit on the number of different visitors). For people at the end of life, there should be no restrictions; the guidance is clear that contact “should always be supported”.
There should not normally be any restrictions to visits into or out of the care home. The right to private and family life is a human right protected in law (Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights). Please can we take this opportunity to remind you that in the event of an outbreak, each resident should be able to have one visitor at a time inside the care home. This visitor does not need to be the same person throughout the outbreak. They do not need to be a family member and could be a volunteer or befriender.
We are aware of concerns being raised about isolation in care settings during coronavirus outbreaks and so would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the current guidance which can be found here – COVID-19 supplement to the infection prevention and control resource for adult social care – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and ask for your continued support in ensuring that care providers and families are able to visit safely now and in the months ahead, in line with guidance and respect for legal rights, for the overall health and wellbeing of the residents involved.
Geraldine Bruce, Head of Health Protection
Hertfordshire County Council
Visitors to adult social care settings are no longer required to have a temperature check on arrival.
The MHRA have advised there is little scientific evidence to support temperature screening as a reliable method for detection of COVID-19 or other febrile illness especially when used as the main method for testing.
Temperature readings from temperature screening systems will measure skin temperature rather than core body temperature. In either case, natural fluctuations in temperature can occur among healthy individuals. These readings are therefore an unreliable measure for detection of COVID-19 or other diseases which may cause fever. Furthermore, infected people who do not develop a fever or who do not show any symptoms would not be detected by a temperature reading and could be more likely to unknowingly spread the virus.
It is therefore recommended that you follow the visitor guidance set out here: COVID-19 supplement to the infection prevention and control resource for adult social care – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)