Relief as rule change allows outdoor family visits for care home residents

Care home residents leaving their home for a walk or to visit friends and family in a garden will no longer have to isolate for two weeks on their return.

By Georgina Cutler
Saturday, 1st May 2021, 11:40 am

The Government announced on Saturday, May 1 that care home residents will be able to spend time with loved ones in “low risk” visits without having to self-isolate on their return from Tuesday, May 4.

But those leaving for medical appointments and for overnight visits will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The news comes after the Government was threatened with legal action by the charity John’s Campaign.

Care home residents will be able to spend time with loved ones in "low risk" visits without having to self-isolate on their return, the Government has said. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

Campaigners said the rule encourages care homes to act unlawfully by “falsely imprisoning” residents, with family members calling it “barbaric”.

Under the changes, residents on visits out must be accompanied by either a member of staff or one of their two nominated visitors.

It is understood that a resident would be able to eat outside at a restaurant or cafe with their care worker or nominated visitor, if they agree this with the care home in advance.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We know how challenging this time has been for care home residents, so I am pleased that they can now leave their homes to reunite with their loved ones outdoors.

“With the data continuing to head in the right direction and as restrictions ease, it is my priority to keep increasing visits for residents in the coming weeks in a safe and controlled way.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said updated guidance will be published in due course.

John’s Campaign co-founder Julia Jones said the rule change did not go far enough, addind it was “massively inadequate” that the isolation requirement remains for those who leave to visit the doctor.

She said: “I still struggle to see what legal right the Government thinks it has for preventing people with full mental capacity from walking out of their homes the same as every other member of the population.

"I struggle to see why they should be under surveillance.”

Leigh Day partner Tessa Gregory, who is representing John’s Campaign, said legal proceedings were due to be issued next week.

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