Wolverhampton North East MP Jane Stevenson has called for a safe way to visit care home residents to be found as quickly as possible, as she voiced her concerns about their health and wellbeing.
In a question to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock in the House of Commons yesterday (8th September), Jane asked what could be done to facilitate safe visits so that residents do not have to suffer weeks and months of not being able to see family and friends.
She spoke of her own personal experience of a friend who is a care home resident and whose mental health and wellbeing has noticeably declined since the lockdown in March.
Earlier this week Wolverhampton Council announced that non-essential visits to care homes in the city have been stopped, with only essential and compassionate visits being allowed to continue.
Jane said: “I was saddened to hear that because of a rise in local cases, care home visits in Wolverhampton are to be severely restricted again.
“I absolutely recognise the heroic efforts of care home staff, but how can we facilitate safe family visits so that care home residents can enjoy quality of life?”
In response, the Health Secretary Mr Hancock said: “The decisions over the visitor arrangements for care homes are rightly made by the care home in consultation with their local Director of Public Health according to the local risk.
I do want of course to see as much visiting as possible, and to see it done safely. This is the difficult balance that needs to be struck, not least because of the negative health impacts, both mental and physical, of the restriction of visiting to care homes. I also very much hope that as testing expands, we will be able to use that more and more to provide for safe visiting.”
There is hope that a rapid 20-minute saliva test, currently being trialled in Southampton and Hampshire, could allow much of normal life to resume if it is rolled out nationally. The Government has committed £500 million towards this new testing technology as well as increasing testing capacity.