Care providers called on the government to release guidance on reopening care homes in England to allow families and loved ones of residents to be reunited.

Appearing on BBC Breakfast this morning MP Grant Shapps said much-awaited government guidance will be issued this week, almost two weeks after the promise from Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health and social care.

Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum said: “The secretary of state for health and social care promised in early July that the government would publish guidance on reopening care homes to families and friends within a matter of days. It is now over 12 days since that announcement and the guidance has still not materialised, causing unnecessary anguish to many.

“As the representative body for not-for-profit care providers we have endeavoured to work with the government to shape the guidance, and emphasise the urgency to ensure residents are reunited with their families and loved ones. Safety is paramount, but it is also absolutely true that people need people, and as we reopen homes to visitors, we must make sure that we put in place all the measures needed for now and the future, so that we never again get into the position where families and friends are kept apart.”

Shortly afterwards the government published guidance.

Care England, the largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, immediately added its disappointment that the Department of Health and Social Care took so long to deliver guidance.

Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, said: “This guidance should have been with care providers last month. We are at a loss to understand why the Department of Health and Social Care cannot act quickly in a crisis or why it is deaf to the comments and input from the sector”. 

As the rest of the country unlocked in June, Care England produced its own guidance for learning disability providers, but stopped short of providing guidance for services for older people, It stated that it acted thus in the belief that the guidance would be delivered by the Department of Health and Social Care “imminently”. 

Care England further added that it was concerned that the guidance did not address a range of issues including: supported living; information about Local Outbreak Boards; volunteers; and support staff ratios. It also warned of a lack of information around how a dynamic risk assessment may affect the frequency of visits.

Green continued: “This guidance fails to consider the issues around visitors and residents leaving the care setting. As lockdown lifts we are likely to see many care providers and relatives wanting to take their loved one out for visits. Also, we need to look beyond outdoor visits and recognise that these new conditions may be with us for quite some time. The failure to acknowledge this nuance underscores the lack of governmental understanding of the complexities present within the adult social care sector.”

Date published: July 22, 2020

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