Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Public Service Transformation, Delyth Jewell MS calls on the Welsh Government to find solutions that would allow family members to visit their loved ones in care homes

Not allowing visits for care home residents will have a negative effect on their wellbeing and could be detrimental for illnesses such as dementia according to Plaid Cymru’s Delyth Jewell.

In First Minister’s Questions this week, Mark Drakeford said he would be holding meetings to discuss ways that visits could resume in a safe manner.

But the Welsh Government’s updated guidelines that have just been published do not include measures that would allow visits to resume.

Age UK and the National Care Forum recently noted the significant risks banning all care home visits present for residents, explaining that the negative impact on residents’ mental health a lack of stimulation and lack of contact with loved ones could well cause harm and is some circumstances reduce life expectancy.

Wales’ Older People’s Commissioner has also recently raised similar concerns, and has urged the Welsh Government to put measures in place that continue to allow safe visits.

While Plaid Cymru accepts that preventing the virus getting into care homes is of paramount importance, the party feels it must be balanced with the emotional and medical need of residents to have contact with their family.

Ms Jewell is calling on the Welsh Government to implement stringent safety procedures in order to allow visits to resume, including:

  • Giving visiting families personal protective equipment and COVID safety training;
  • Allowing distanced outdoor visits where suitable;
  • Testing family members ahead of visits with instructions to quarantine from the point of taking the test and the visit (assuming it comes back negative)
  • Confirming positive test results with second tests, so that 28-day care home lockdowns are only enforced when it's certain that they're necessary.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Public Service Transformation, Delyth Jewell MS said,

“I am disappointed that the Welsh Government’s updated care home guidelines do not include provisions to allow family visits to resume.

“I fully appreciate that ensuring the virus does not enter care homes is of paramount importance, but there are ways some visits could be accommodated, as long as stringent safety guidelines are put in place.

“The Welsh Government could, for example, provide visitors with PPE, offer them Covid safety training, allow distanced outdoor visits where applicable, and establish a testing and quarantine system to ensure that only Covid-free visitors are allowed on the premises.

“The risks that isolating care home residents and keeping them from family members poses to their wellbeing are too high to ignore, so I would urge the Welsh Government to reconsider the ways in which safe visits could be permitted under certain strict conditions.”