• 17 December 2020
  • 3 min read

Will COVID Vaccination In Care Homes Be The Key To Allowing Visitors Again?

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder
    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
    • Aubrey Hollebon
  • 1
  • 2116
Will the COVID Vaccine Be The Key To Allowing Visitors in Care Homes Again?

People living in care homes in England will be able to have visits from family and friends by Christmas if the visitors test negative for Covid-19, the government has said.

Now that COVID vaccines are being approved by regulators, it is expected that care homes will be among those prioritised for the first batches of vaccine to be available.

Since March, when the first lockdown was imposed, visitation rights for care home residents have been severely curtailed, if not altogether rescinded.

Will the vaccine, once deployed in large enough numbers, be the catalyst for care home visits to resume at a normal level? Comment 💬 Like ❤️ Reply 🙂 below.

From December 1st, in England, if the visitor can prove they have had a negative COVID test, they can now visit a care home as they would have done previously.

There will remain a requirement to wear protective equipment during these times, to prevent any inadvertent transmission of the virus.

The question is then, once vaccination gets going, should the requirement for visiting someone in a care home shift from a negative test to proof of vaccination?

Certainly, there is an argument that simply showing proof of vaccination requires fewer resources and less logistical planning than organising to take a test and get a result back by a specified date.

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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In England, the Government has stated that it plans to be able to offer twice-weekly testing for up to two visitors per care home resident by Christmas, which would facilitate a return to more normal visitation patterns for care home residents.

To get around the delay in processing time for the PCR tests, rapid result Lateral flow tests are being sent to care homes in England in sufficient quantities to manage the two-visitor demand mentioned above.

Do you think that the continued focus of testing will ease as vaccine supplies and distribution increase?

In Wales, Chief Medical Officer Dr Frank Atherton said ‘elderly residents in care homes are one of our highest priorities’.

In Northern Ireland, the Health Minister confirmed that care home residents had been prioritised and will receive the Covid-19 vaccine in the first phase of the vaccination programme.

This announcement was welcomed as it had been feared that the vaccination rollout for care homes would not begin until the start of January as the characteristics of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine meant that it was not suitable for use on Northern Ireland's 16,000 care home residents.

In Scotland, visits to care homes remain linked to the local level of restrictions.

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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Given the national nature of the virus, do you think the devolved governments of the UK should be coordinating their vaccine strategies?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine especially, creates logistical issues, given the extreme low temperature storage requirement, and this means a likely delay in rollout to care homes when compared to hospitals.

Indeed, the government in England admitted that vaccinations for care home workers would precede care home residents for this reason. Care home workers will be asked to travel to a vaccination hub (likely a hospital or surgery), where the proper storage facilities allow the vaccines to be properly stored prior to deployment.

Once care home workers are vaccinated, should the focus then be on the care home residents, to form a baseline of prevention prior to incoming visits being reinstated?

Currently, care home staff are tested weekly, and residents monthly, but this will be increased so staff will be tested twice-weekly, and residents once a week by the end of December this year.

Is it possible that concentrating on achieving and maintaining a rigid testing schedule risks losing focus on the larger aim of returning to normality for both care home workers and residents?

Previously, the government in England came in for criticism regarding its guidance for safe visits to care homes.

The newly issued guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care says that visits should be enabled to go ahead in all tiers - unless there is an outbreak in the care home.

Has government guidance, often confused and occasionally contradictory, been more of a hindrance than a help during the pandemic?

However, in a departure from the rigid top-down edicts of the past few months, now each care home will be responsible for setting its own visiting policy.

Will this flexibility mean that care homes can better tailor their testing and visitor rules to their immediate circumstances, rather than following a government edict that may not apply to them directly?

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments, and Like the article if you found it of interest.

Thanks.

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

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  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

  • 1 Comments
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    • Carolyn Whitley 6 months ago
      Carolyn Whitley
    • Carolyn Whitley
      6 months ago

      Care home residents and staff will be protected by the vaccine.I don’t think visitors should take priority over other vulnerable ... read more

      • You're right, Carolyn. Agreed. Thank you.

        Replied by: Matt Farrah