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Care home visits during COVID-19

Care homes in Gateshead are being supported to allow visits during covid restrictions under new regional guidance issued by the Directors of Public Health and Directors of Adult Social Services across the North East.

Visits to care homes are hugely important to the health and wellbeing of residents and work has been underway across the North East to develop some regional principles to ensure visiting in care homes is undertaken in a safe and secure way. This supports the national government advice to encourage the provision of safe visiting opportunities.

Throughout the pandemic significant work has been undertaken to support our care homes. This has included regular communication with providers; supporting access to PPE and mutual aid; ensuring staff are regularly tested and the administration of grant support for care homes.

Grant support, through the Infection Control Fund, has allowed care homes to provide safe visiting such as dedicated staff to facilitate visits and undertake additional cleaning as well as the introduction in some homes of visiting pods.

The continued challenge remains to balance the benefits of visiting for residents and families, against the risk of visitors introducing infection into the care home or spreading infection from the care home to the community. 

Alice Wiseman, Director of Public Health for Gateshead Council, said: "We understand how difficult visiting restrictions have been for families. Months of restrictions have meant that care home residents have felt isolated and cut off from their loved ones.

"Local authorities in the North East have been actively working together to develop guidance for a safe approach to the reintroduction of visiting in care homes. Our priority must remain to protect residents from infection whilst enabling greater flexibility in visiting arrangements for families."

Local councils are also continuing our plan for increased testing focussed on protecting those most vulnerable to COVID including:

  • rapid testing for visitors to provide them with regular access to homes
  • increased testing for domiciliary care workers and other regular workers entering the homes of older and vulnerable residents
  • daily testing of care home staff.

The decision on whether to allow visitors, and under which circumstances, is down to the individual care home based on the individual circumstances. Residents should contact the individual care home for details of their visiting arrangements.

Any care home with a current COVID-19 outbreak must suspend visits, apart from end of life visits, until the outbreak is over or under control.

View the latest visiting arrangements in care homes for the period of national restrictions on the website.

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