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Care Homes: Visits

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 85003, tabled on 4 September 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what representations he has received on allocating key worker or equivalent status for family carers, enabling them access to (a) regular covid-19 testing, (b) PPE and (c) training on infection control so that they are able to visit their loved ones in care homes safely; what discussions he has had with (i) infection control experts and (ii) charities representing people living in care homes about those representations; and if he will make a statement.

Answered on

8 October 2020

We continue to work closely and listen to the views and concerns of carer organisations and those they represent during this period.

Current clinical advice is that testing of individuals without symptoms, including family visitors of care home residents, should be used where clinically appropriate, predominantly for outbreak investigation and infection control. Our primary focus at present is testing all symptomatic people and asymptomatic people in specific circumstances, to ensure that everyone who needs a test can get one. That said, we have listened to unpaid carers’ concerns about getting access to testing and have made them a priority group for COVID-19 testing. They are now included in the list of essential workers that can get a COVID-19 test if they show symptoms.

We are not currently recommending that personal protective equipment be used by family carers unless it would ordinarily be used in delivering care to the individual, or if advised to do so by a healthcare professional. We are keeping this policy under review.

We have published guidance for unpaid carers on GOV.UK providing general advice, including advice on infection control, links to other information and support, and advice on caring where someone has symptoms.