Do I need to take a test to visit a care home?
If you are visiting a care home resident as a named visitor, you will be required to take a rapid LFD test and test negative before every visit. If visitors test positive, they must immediately return home, self-isolate and complete a further test which will be provided to them by the care home.
The care home provider should provide full details on their testing process and obtain consent from visitors prior to their participation in testing.
If you have arranged with your local care home to be a resident’s ‘essential care giver’, you will be supported to follow the same testing arrangements in place for care home staff.
Those visiting loved ones indoors at the end of their lives may be offered a test on arrival for their visit, but those visiting residents outdoors will not require a test. However, if visitors are displaying any symptoms of coronavirus, they should not visit the care home, self-isolate and order a test immediately.
All visitors may be asked screening questions upon arrival. These may include:
- Have you been feeling unwell recently?
- Have you had recent onset of a new continuous cough?
- Do you have a high temperature? A care home may consider providing a temperature check for all visitors to provide confidence to visitors and to staff.
- Have you noticed a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell?
- Have you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days?
- Have you had recent contact (in the last 14 days) with anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or someone with confirmed COVID-19 – if yes, should you be self-isolating as a family member or as a contact advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace?
- Have you returned from an overseas visit recently and are you still in the quarantine period?
What is likely to change when I visit my loved one?
Indoor visits may take place in designated visiting rooms, but in all cases, they should take place in a well-ventilated room. Those visiting indoors must observe strict social distancing from other residents, visitors and staff at all times, and follow care home policies in place for testing and use of appropriate PPE.
There may be some instances where visits are supervised, for example during a visitor’s first visit. In most circumstances this will not be necessary, but where used, this should be clearly explained in the care home’s visiting policy.
Any additional visits should take place where possible outside. Other appropriate visits include:
- Visits under a cover such as an awning, gazebo or open-sided marquee, where residents and visitors remain at least two metres apart.
- Visits in temporary outdoor structures, such as COVID-secure visiting areas/pods which are enclosed to some degree but are still outside the main building of the home. These areas can only allow one visiting party at a time, will require good ventilation and screens between residents and visitors.
- Visits in a dedicated room such as a conservatory, which can be accessed from outside of the home. These areas can only allow one visiting party at a time, will require good ventilation and screens between residents and visitors.
- Visits at a window.
What should I do to keep the person I am visiting safe?
Named visitors should be tested using rapid LFD tests before every visit, must wear the appropriate PPE, and follow all other infection control measures. The Care home will guide visitors on infection control measures.
Visitors and residents may wish to hold hands but are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum as any contact increases the risk of transmission.
Visitors should also be careful to ensure they observe strict social distancing from other residents, visitors and staff at all times.
As is the case with visitors of all ages, there should be no close physical contact between babies or young children and the residents they are visiting. Children aged 11 and over should wear the same PPE as adult visitors. Children under the age of 3 should not wear masks for safety reasons.
How often can I visit a care home?
Care homes will decide how often and for how long it is possible for named visitors to come into the home. This is likely to be depend on practical considerations, such as the layout of the home and the numbers of residents and families who may wish to have visits.
There will be opportunities for more family members and friends to come for a visit – not just the five named visitors.
But these visits will need to take place in a different way. For example:
- Outdoors, including at a window;
- in a special ‘visiting pods’ if the care home has one;
- or in a room with a screen between you and the resident.
These visits still need to be agreed upon with the care home, and you will probably need to book an appointment. It is also important to observe good social distancing and follow any instructions the care home gives you.