By Rosalind Hughes, founder of Just Caring Legal
From today, 8 March, every care home resident will be able to nominate a single named regular person for regular face-to-face visits. Perhaps that’s you? The likelihood is you haven’t been for a face-to-face care visit for more than a year. Finally, the possibility of just holding their hand is in sight. The prospect of being able to share that small but vital gesture of comfort and affection may feel like nothing short of a lifeline.
So it is devastating that some care settings are already saying they can’t or won’t support these essential care visits. We know this isn’t an easy ask of them. Staffing levels are already strained for many. They need to administer a rapid lateral flow test to every visitor before each visit. They need to provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and take all necessary infection control measures. And they need to continue to offer socially distanced visits to other friends or family members where possible. This means continuing arrangements such as outdoor visiting, substantial screens or visiting pods.
However, the latest government guidance is clear.
The fact is, care homes should support face-to-face care visiting wherever it is possible to do so safely. It must be supported by the government guidance and within an environment set up to manage risks.
This is not just a human rights issue. (Care providers must take seriously their ethical obligations towards their residents.) It is also the case that regular visits from close relatives often make a huge difference to care residents’ outcomes. You know your relative best. You are best placed to read the verbal and non-verbal signs and notice if something is amiss. And you know best when they need extra support, reassurance or comfort. What’s more, you are most likely to raise concerns with staff members and escalate them if necessary. Most times, you know instinctively when they are distressed, going downhill or just not getting the care they need. Without this vital input, vulnerable residents of care homes are at risk from far more than Covid-19.
Of course, you will also need to uphold your end of the bargain. While hand-holding is permitted, you will need to keep other physical contact to a minimum. You need to work with the care home’s procedures to minimise the risk of Covid transmission. After all, many residents and staff have yet to receive their second vaccination dose.
Are you still struggling to access face-to-face care visits with your relative?
If so, please consider getting in touch. As care specialists, Just Caring Legal may be able to help. We are used to liaising with care providers on a daily basis. We are fluent in their language of risk assessments, safeguarding and procedures. Most importantly, after all this time, we understand how much the chance to hold your relative’s hand means to you – and to them. So don’t wait another day – call us now and let us see if we can help.