Care home chaos as visitors are STILL barred: Boris Johnson is accused of breaking pledge that elderly will be able to hug relatives as report reveals many nursing home residents are still unable to see family
- Campaigners angry after major report warned care homes couldn’t have visitors
- Government is rolling out millions of lateral flow tests to care homes
- Several local authorities are advising against their use because of inaccuracies
Boris Johnson has been accused of breaking his pledge that care home residents would be able to hug and hold hands with family members this year.
Campaigners reacted angrily after a major report warned that many residents were still unable to have visitors.
The National Care Forum (NCF) said local authorities were locked in disputes with ministers over the accuracy of rapid tests.
The Government is rolling out millions of lateral flow tests to care homes, but several local authorities are advising against their use because they are not as accurate as alternative PCR tests.
Peter Vann was overcome with emotion when he was able to hug wife Carole for the first time in 12 months (pictured)
Care home managers said visitors are being ‘left out in the cold’ as managers are ‘stuck’ between two different sets of advice over whether to allow indoor visits.
Jenny Morrison, from campaign group Rights for Residents, said Mr Johnson had broken his promise to care home residents. She said: ‘The idea that everyone will hold hands and hug at Christmas is absolutely off the cards.
That promise was made by the Prime Minister but had no substance or foundation at all. The Government yesterday said they don’t want to break the promise of allowing festive bubbles, but seem happy to break the promise of letting care home visitors have hugs for Christmas.
We’re hearing that the majority of homes still haven’t received their tests in the post.
A cuddle at last after a year apart
Peter Vann was overcome with emotion when he was able to hug wife Carole for the first time in 12 months.
The couple, who have been married for 57 years, had been apart due to various illnesses and the pandemic. But they were finally reunited at Camelot House and Lodge in Wellington, Somerset.
Mr Vann, 79, said: ‘I’m so grateful that they started using the rapid tests.’ Mr Vann, of Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, is now looking forward to seeing his 73-year-old wife again on Christmas Day.
‘If the Government have the power to shut pubs and restaurants overnight, they have the power to make guidance on care home visits mandatory.’
The Mail last month launched a major campaign calling for visiting restrictions to be lifted.
The Alzheimer’s Society yesterday begged the Government to issue clear instructions to care providers so that no more vulnerable residents are forced to spend their final days apart from their families.
Age UK said: ‘We’re increasingly worried that many older people and families who have pinned their hopes on reuniting by Christmas are about to be badly let down.’
The report by the NCF was based on a survey of nearly 1,500 care providers who care for almost 51,000 residents, about an eighth of the UK total. It said: ‘The ongoing dispute over the accuracy and use of lateral flow device testing needs to be urgently resolved.’
The tests give results within 30 minutes, but are less accurate than PCR tests. But a study by Oxford University and Public Health England last month concluded they are accurate and sensitive enough to be used in the community.
Vic Rayner, chief executive of the NCF, said meaningful care home visits are ‘simply not achievable without additional resources’.
National guidelines, issued on December 2 promised that all care home residents will finally be able to hug their families again if visitors test negative for Covid-19. Each resident is supposed to be able to nominate two loved ones who will be able to visit them twice a week, regardless of which tier their local area is under.
But care home managers yesterday warned that many of them are yet to receive the tests.
Oona Goldsworthy, chief executive of Brunelcare which runs homes in Bristol, said: ‘The announcement a few weeks ago that relatives would be able to come in by Christmas, and would be able to hug their relatives, isn’t actually happening because of the conflicting advice we’re getting.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘To bring families back together safely we have sent out millions of tests, provided free PPE and issued guidance to enable this across all tiers, with homes around the country arranging visits now. Our aim is for all care homes to receive their tests by December 18.’
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