Last Updated 3:30pm, 28 October 2020
Visiting care homes in Devon
The national policies for visiting arrangements in care homes, updated on 5 November 2020, requires the local authority Director of Public Health to make a risk assessment about visits to care homes in their area. The incidence of COVID-19, and therefore risk levels in Devon, are currently comparatively low when looking at the rest of the country and Devon’s Director of Public Health has stated that there are no restrictions recommended at the moment, as long as national and local guidance is strictly followed.
Updated guidance was issued on the 8th December which has meant Devon County Council (DCC) is working with care home providers and through the Devon Care Home Collaborative to support arrangements for family and friends to visit people who live in care homes. We all recognise the enormous value of such contact.
Our collective priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents, staff, and visitors. The COVID-19 pandemic still presents real challenges to the safety of care home residents particularly. We recognise and appreciate the efforts that care home providers and their teams have made, and continue to make, to deliver safe care and enable visiting for family and friends where possible.
We are fortunate in Devon to be able to learn from the early pilot of use of lateral flow testing for visitors which, when carefully implemented, can enhance the safety of visiting arrangements. A negative lateral flow test does not remove risk, and care home providers will need to continue to dynamically assess risk and exercise judgement about when, and in what circumstances, visits can be safely supported. We recognise these are difficult judgements to balance.
Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health supports the use of lateral flow tests as part of the wider testing programme and a care home’s visitor policy, within the context of dynamic risk assessment. Visits must however take place with robust Infection Prevention and Control as outlined in the current guidance. Advice is kept under constant review in line with current guidance and evidence.
DCC and local healthcare partners will do all that we can to support care home providers through these challenging times.
We will continue to monitor the local situation in Devon and will provide further updates to care homes as needed.