Nationally, people have been unable to visit their loved ones in person during the coronavirus pandemic, with care homes instead setting up 'virtual' visiting via video calls wherever possible.
The Government has now announced that visiting should be allowed in care homes once more, but that the decision about when this should begin must be made by local councils and Directors of Public Health.
Councillor Linda Leach, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Services, said: "We know how important it is for families and friends to be able to visit their loved ones and we are working closely with local care homes to ensure this can be done as safely – and as soon as possible.
"Care providers are having to do a lot of work to ensure they can comply with the guidance around safe visiting which has been set out by the Government, and we hope it won't be too long before care home residents can be reunited with their friends and family once more. In the meantime, I'd encourage people to use video calling to keep in touch with their loved ones.”
John Denley, Wolverhampton's Director of Public Health, said: "While anyone can get Covid-19, it is particularly dangerous to elderly people or those with underlying health conditions, and there have been too many tragic examples in this country and elsewhere of what happens when there is a coronavirus outbreak in a care home.
"We need to avoid that happening at all costs and over the next few days we will be reviewing all the data to determine whether visiting in care homes might be safe in some circumstances in Wolverhampton.
“While it is an operational decision for care providers to determine whether they are ready to reopen to visitors or not, we would expect all our commissioned providers to welcome visitors once it is safe for them to do so."
Thorough risk assessments will take place for each care home, taking account of other issues such as transmission rates in the local community, and providers are required to put in a range of additional safety measures including social distancing.
Visitors should wear a face covering and other personal protective equipment as appropriate, including gloves and aprons, and where possible visits should take place in a communal garden or other outdoor area which can be accessed without going through the main building.
The Government says that, to limit risk, visiting should be limited to a single constant visitor per resident wherever possible to help limit the number of different people going into the home.
The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages at Coronavirus advice and information. There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves and their families from coronavirus from the NHS at Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The council’s Stay Safe, Be Kind campaign offers clear and simple advice about how people can help themselves, and how they can support others who may be particularly vulnerable at this time. For more information, please visit Stay Safe, Be Kind.