Care home coronavirus rules: what are the latest changes?

1 May 2021, 16:19 | Updated: 2 May 2021, 08:09

Rules for care home residents change next week
Rules for care home residents change next week. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Coronavirus rules affecting care homes will change next week.

The changes apply to care home residents visiting loved ones and come after the Government was threatened with legal action.

The rules have previously been strongly criticised by campaigners and family members.

READ MORE: 'Barbaric' care home self-isolation rule axed for 'low risk' trips

What are the changes?

From Tuesday, residents will be able to leave their home for a walk or to visit a loved one's garden without having to isolate for two weeks on their return.

Residents on visits out must be accompanied by either a member of staff or one of their two nominated visitors, and follow social distancing throughout.

They cannot meet in groups or go indoors - except for the use of toilets - and public transport should be avoided where possible.

It is understood a resident would be able to eat outside at a restaurant or cafe with their care worker or nominated visitor if they agree this with the care home in advance.

Residents will also be able to vote in person in the upcoming local elections without having to self-isolate for 14 days afterwards.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We know how challenging this time has been for care home residents, so I am pleased that they can now leave their homes to reunite with their loved ones outdoors.

"With the data continuing to head in the right direction and as restrictions ease, it is my priority to keep increasing visits for residents in the coming weeks in a safe and controlled way."

What does the vaccine data tell us?

New data shows that 95% of elderly residents have received one vaccine dose and 71% have received two.

What if the visit doesn’t fit the criteria?

Those leaving for medical appointments and for overnight visits will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days, it is understood.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is expected to review the self-isolation requirement for more visits when it reaches the next stage of the Government's road map on May 17.

Legal action

The DHSC is changing the rules after being threatened with legal action by the charity John's Campaign.

Campaigners say the strict rules encourage care homes to act unlawfully by "falsely imprisoning" residents, with family members calling it "barbaric".