A social care leader has given a “cautious” welcome to news that indoor care home visits are being allowed again in Wales from August 29.
But Mary Wimbury, the chief executive of Care Forum Wales which represents nearly 500 providers, stressed the need for the visits to be properly “risk assessed” so that they are done safely in a way that did not place residents, families or staff at risk.
Back in March Care Forum Wales urged care homes to lockdown – well ahead of the Welsh Government advice to do so.
At the same time they launched a campaign to “Shield Social Care and Save Lives”, calling for sufficient supplies of PPE, a comprehensive testing regime an financial support to help the sector survive the economic storms caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In announcing the decision to allow indoor care home visits again, First Minister Mark Drakeford said there would be “strict” rules for the visits which would be set out in guidance and that the public shouldn’t move away from the cautious approach taken so far.
Ms Wimbury said: “Care Forum Wales was ahead of the curve back in March when we called for care homes to be locked down so we could shield social care and save lives which in the event proved to be a wise decision.
“As the situation has improved, many care homes have facilitated socially distanced visits in outside areas to reunite residents and their families and there have been some deeply touching moments across Wales.
“However, we recognise that meeting outside is not always practical, particularly when the weather is not good.
“Enabling indoor visits can be important for the mental health and well-being of residents and their loved ones but it vitally important this is done safely.
“We cautiously welcome this opportunity to provide additional support to care home residents through risk-assessed indoor visits by professionals, family and friends. “We are pleased we are being consulted by the Welsh Government on the guidance around when such visits might be permissible and appropriate.”
Prof Drakeford added: “While coronavirus remains effectively suppressed in Wales and cases continue to fall, the situation in the rest of the UK and further afield is still problematic.
“We cannot think that we are immune from everything elsewhere. So while things remain benign in Wales, I want us to go on being careful, being cautious, doing things one step at a time, so that we can try and sustain our positive position for as long as we can.”