Support to essential visits
Alongside resuming meaningful contact for residents on a day-to-day basis, generous support to essential visits was also emphasised in Open with Care, at all stages of the pandemic. These should be supported in a range of circumstances such as to alleviate distress, to prevent or respond to a decline in residents' wellbeing, and approaching end of life. This section considers how well essential visits have been supported.
Reporting by care homes
Chart 2 shows the visiting status of adult care homes submitting data to Turas. As support for indoor visiting has grown, the proportion of homes supporting only outdoor and essential visits and only essential visits has fallen. If care homes report support to indoor visits, they are not asked about outdoor and essential visits.
Source: Turas Care Home Management Tool
The number of homes that indicated 'other' visiting status (no indoor, outdoor or essential visits, and outdoor visits only (no indoor or essential visits)) has been very low and in most weeks fewer than 10 homes have reported this visiting status.
Where essential visits are not supported
Turas asks care homes to explain why essential visits are not being supported, where they report that in returns. It is assumed that care homes supporting indoor visits also routinely support other types of visit, including essential visits.
It is clear from the information provided that, for some homes, there has been a misinterpretation of the question, with essential visits being supported but none needed on the day. The type of service (i.e. respite) is also a factor.
There have been homes that have reported "no" to supporting essential visits due to no residents at end of life requiring essential visits. Follow up contact with these care homes by the Care Inspectorate confirmed that they would and do support essential visits if needed, but did not have people requiring these at time of completing Turas.
A very small number of homes over the period since publication of Open with Care (less than ten care homes weekly) have provided reasons for not supporting essential visiting that, based on the limited information provided, could be contrary to guidance. Based on the information provided we do not know the circumstances to answers – whether for example these reflect visiting policy or a misunderstanding of guidance. Reasons included, for example, allowing window visits only, not supporting any visiting due to lockdown or not supporting essential visits because of wider COVID-19 restrictions. It is worth reiterating, however, that the number of care homes that fall into this category has been very small.
Reports from Action on Rights show that accessing essential visits continued to be difficult for some. Examples included:
- visits not being proactively facilitated, or restricted to end of life situations;
- care homes advising that designated visits replaced essential visits;
- a lack of clarity or restrictions on the number of people that could be supported in an essential visit (numbers are not restricted).
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