Exclusive

LBC poll finds two-thirds of people want more visitors to be allowed at care homes

5 May 2021, 13:17 | Updated: 5 May 2021, 17:34

Care home residents should be allowed more visitors, two-thirds of people have said.
Care home residents should be allowed more visitors, two-thirds of people have said. Picture: Getty

By Will Taylor

Almost two-thirds of people believe care homes should allow more than two loved ones to visit regularly, LBC's exclusive polling has found.

Coronavirus guidance for England says care home residents can only nominate up to two people for regular visits, forcing them to pick among family members.

The rules are designed to prevent the most vulnerable from being exposed to Covid but restrictions on homes have led to outcry over the effect they are having on residents and their loved ones.

Today, an exclusive LBC Poll with findoutnow.co.uk - which surveyed 10,000 people - has shown 65% of people back allowing more visitors in.

Read more: Care home residents can visit loved ones without isolating after 'barbaric' rules dropped

Read more: Care home coronavirus rules: what are the latest changes?

Most people support allowing care home residents to have more than two visitors
Most people support allowing care home residents to have more than two visitors. Picture: LBC
More than a third believe the current rules exclude family members and friends who aren't nominated
More than a third believe the current rules exclude family members and friends who aren't nominated. Picture: LBC

Support was highest among 18-24s, where 73% agreed with allowing more, while 58% of over 65s thought so.

Responding to the findings, Minister for Care Helen Whately said: "I know how difficult the last year has been for people in care homes who are among those most at risk from COVID-19.

"Residents can now leave their care home to spend time outdoors, for instance to visit a park or garden, without having to self-isolate upon their return.

"This is another significant step towards normal life and is being taken in a way that will help protect care homes from the continued risk of COVID-19.

"We recognise that every care home has a unique layout, physical environment and facilities, and residents have their own individual health and wellbeing needs, which is why care homes themselves are best placed to decide how to enable visiting safely."

The findings come after Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi pleaded for care homes to "work with us" to allow visitors in, while the manager at one home said she was worried Covid could get in when relatives arrive.

The most popular reasons for supporting more visitors were that family and friends who weren't nominated by the resident would be excluded, two regular visitors isn't enough and that care homes have made it safe to visit, with a third of respondents choosing each reason.

A total of 17% said the nominated two may feel burdened, while just 6% said the rules were not clear enough.

Rules were also recently relaxed to allow care home residents to leave for low-risk visits without having to self-isolate when returning.

Read more: Care home campaigners issue fresh legal threat against Govt over self-isolation rule

But despite some relaxations, some homes are struggling with permitting in-person interaction with families.

Nicola Rowland, manager at Manor Park care home, told LBC: "I would love to let families in because we are built for this - we are a family-run care home and we are family-orientated.

"But I also don't want Covid in my care home because I don't want to lose anyone that we care about.

"I do understand where the campaigners are coming from and hope we can find a safe way, but even now I've read some of the guidance and I don't even know how we're going to be able to do all of that stuff."

Some homes have said that staff shortages and insurance will prohibit family visits.

Challenged on the issue by Nick Ferrari on LBC, Mr Zahawi said Care Minister Helen Whately was "working very hard" to engage with managers at homes.

"My message to them is please, please, where you can work with us to make sure the residents really do get the freedoms they deserve."

MPs and peers have called on the Government to underpin guidance on visits to care homes in law.

Those on the Joint Committee on Human Rights said it was "completely unacceptable" some providers said it was not safe to follow the guidance.

They said staff should not make blanket decisions and residents' views, needs and wellbeing should be taken into account.

The committee said anecdotal evidence heard during its inquiry suggests a "large number" of care homes are not following the Government's guidance.