This report summarises progress with Open with Care - Supporting meaningful contact in care homes guidance since its publication on 24 February 2021. Drawing on a range of data and information, it considers progress with supporting both routine indoor contact and consistent, compassionate support to essential visits. Feedback is also shared around how well good quality, regular contact between residents and their loved ones has been restored. The report recognises the excellent progress so far. By late March, over 90 per cent of care homes supported contact for residents indoors and at 14 June, 97 per cent of all responding care homes reported indoor visiting was underway. Over the same time period, the number of confirmed care home outbreaks has fallen.
This progress is to be commended and reflects the significant efforts by care homes and partners to help it to happen. Continued progress to normalise residents' meaningful contact is important and timely.
The report also identifies key areas of action where care homes and partners can best improve and embed good quality, meaningful contact as the norm. These should focus on:
a. Care homes improving, maximising and embedding meaningful contact
b. Local system support and monitoring to maximise contact
c. Strengthening awareness and adoption of Open with Care.
1. Care homes improving, maximising and embedding meaningful contact
The need to balance the risks of harm from COVID-19 and from ongoing isolation or restrictions continues. With multiple protections, care homes should always promote meaningful contact, using essential visits in parallel. Where conditions are met and residents wish, at least two indoor visits weekly should be supported as the minimum starting point to supporting residents to reconnect and reengage.
Care homes should now move rapidly, with support where necessary, to increase the frequency, duration and number of indoor and other visits, with the fewest restrictions. This will enable them to fulfil residents' wishes and human rights in a flexible, person-centred way and related quality indicators.
2. Local system support and monitoring to maximise contact
Continued local support to care homes remains crucial. Local oversight, including the Care Inspectorate, has a key role building confidence and continued improvements. Actions are outlined to take this forward, through learning and mentoring, regular focussed discussion and targeted support or challenge.
3. Strengthening awareness and adoption of Open with Care
It remains a key priority that all partners communicate and publicise visiting guidance and resources accessibly, including dedicated information for residents, family and friends. This is to support increased awareness and confidence, for care homes as well as residents, family and friends, around resuming contact and activities and the COVID-19 protections in place.
Continued progress to improving, embedding and normalising meaningful contact for residents remains a priority. Looking ahead, it will also be important to resume and develop meaningful lives for all residents, including those who do not have regular contact with family and friends. This means continuing and building on the invaluable learning over the last year such that there is a collective focus on care home life being both vibrant for residents and important parts of local communities.
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