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Coronavirus West Berkshire: Council taking steps to allow visitors at care homes

Families have been unable to visit since March

Jonathan Ashby

Jonathan Ashby

jonathan.ashby@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886637

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FAMILIES will soon be able to visit their loved ones in council-run care homes again.

Having closed its care homes to all but essential visitors in March, West Berkshire Council is now taking steps to permit families to visit their loved ones safely and in accordance with current Government guidelines.

All visits will take place in the care home’s garden and the local authority is publishing a Visits Code which includes a booking system, a limit on visitors to two (who must be from the same household), social distancing and the wearing of appropriate personal protection equipment.

Each home’s registered manager will always have the final say as to whether to permit a visit to take place.

West Berkshire’s service manager for responsive care providers Sara Ross said: “It was only because of the extreme circumstances faced at the outset of the pandemic that visits were curtailed, although they have continued in very specific cases such as end of life.

“Getting visiting back underway is something that I, together with our registered care home managers, have been striving for.”

Visiting brings comfort both to those who are visited and to those visiting.

Some care home residents are living with dementia and have a limited understanding of events, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

They may experience distress and confusion, which can be relieved by the presence of familiar faces.

Visits can also have a positive effect on diet and nutrition, and are a fundamental part of the care of each resident.

The council’s executive member for adult social care Graham Bridgman said: “In March we recognised the risks of care homes remaining open to visitors.

“We have done what we can to keep residents in touch with their families and friends, but nothing beats a personal visit.

“As the lockdown eased and there was more understanding about Covid, and testing became more widespread, we were keen to reintroduce visiting, so long as it was done with the safety of residents and staff paramount in our minds.

“I am delighted that we are now at that point.”

Each care home will be able to provide a copy of the Visits Code to the families and friends of residents.

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