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How care home rule changes make it easier to visit friends and family from January 31

Restrictions on visitors to nursing homes will be lifted on Monday, which should allow more families and friends to reunite with loved ones.

The return of unlimited visitors for care home residents is part of a series of changes to coronavirus rules in the sector.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I know how vital companionship is to those living in care homes and the positive difference visits make, which is why we have continued to allow 3 named visitors and one essential carer under Plan B measures.

“Thanks to the progress we’ve made, I’m delighted that care home restrictions can now be eased further, allowing residents to see their loved ones more.”

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There are also changes to self-isolation periods for care home residents who test positive for coronavirus or who have returned from an emergency hospital visit.

Care Minister Gillian Keegan said: “Thanks to the continued success of the vaccine rollout, I am delighted that we can ease restrictions in care settings and allow unlimited visits to ensure that people living in nursing homes care see all their family and friends.

“The changes announced today are backed by scientists, ensuring we all have more freedoms from coronavirus, including care home residents and their families.”

How the rules for care home visitors are changing from January 31

From January 31, there will no longer be a limit on the number of visitors nursing home residents can receive. Plan B restrictions had limited the number of visitors to nursing homes, allowing residents to nominate just three people for regular visits.

Reduced isolation periods will mean friends and family won’t have to wait as long to visit nursing home residents recovering from coronavirus.

The isolation period for nursing home residents infected with the coronavirus also changes on Monday, from 14 days to 10 days, and those who test negative on the five and six days may be discharged earlier. The period of isolation will also be reduced for care home residents returning from hospital after emergency care. Residents of care homes will no longer have to take tests or self-isolate after making outside visits.

If there is an outbreak in a care home, from January 31 they will only have to follow outbreak management rules for 14 days instead of the previous 28.

Detailed guidelines will be issued on Monday, January 31, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

Should I wear a mask during a visit to an EHPAD?

Yes, while the legal requirement to wear face coverings in indoor settings like shops has ended in England, masks must still be worn in some healthcare settings, including care homes.

The government says: “Face coverings and face masks will continue to be mandatory in health and care settings to comply with infection prevention and control (IPC) and adult social care guidelines. This includes hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as medical practices. They should also be worn by anyone accessing or visiting nursing homes.”

Care home visitors are advised to take lateral flow tests before arriving.

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Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera