Pilot scheme to treat care home resident relatives as key workers

Relatives, friends or informal carers of care home residents will be treated as key workers to allow more frequent visits under a pilot scheme in England.

Care minister Helen Whately said the pilot at the unnamed location will trial designated visitors with regular Covid tests.

“I am planning for us to launch a pilot on that shortly. I can't give you a date, but what I can say is we're moving forward with it and we are going to pilot it,” she told the Health and Social Care select committee.

Whately (pictured) added: “Visiting is incredibly important for residents and their families and care homes. I really want us to enable visiting but it must be safe.

“I think you do have to recognise that should a visitor take Covid, they are not just endangering the individual they're visiting but actually it's very hard to control Covid within a residential setting.”

The National Care Forum welcomed the piloting of designated visitors as key workers in care homes.

“NCF, alongside a wide range of partners, have been calling for this since June. The government must act quickly to move us to a place where this pilot comes into play, and we move to a situation across the country where the default assumption is that meaningful and regular visiting is a clear part of every resident’s care,” said executive director Vic Rayner.

“For many, the decisions that are taken about visiting are life changing, and potentially life limiting. None of this is easy – but nothing that mattered ever was,” she added.