We all want to see, touch, hold, embrace, and hug those that we miss so much, and it seems like ages since we were able to. Once the roadmap was published last week outlining the gradual lifting of restrictions, we at QCC have been counting the days until we can move away from blooming Zoom and Skype and have an actual, proper, face to face conversation with our family members, raise a real toast rather than lifting our cups of tea/glasses of wine towards the screen and removing the frustrations of buffering, connectivity issues or the call being timed out. But just when will this be?
Care minister Helen Whately told Sky News she wants to see a return to more “normal” visits as the restrictions begin to relax. She inferred that family members would not have to wait until their relatives in care had had their second jab and is quoted as saying, “I really want to open up visiting in care homes more”. She went on to say, “What I want to do as we come out of the national lockdown is also increase the amount of visiting. I don’t want to see that we have to wait for the second vaccination dose, I want us to open up sooner than that.” Furthering this point she said, “I’m determined so that we can see people going back to be able to hold hands again and to see somebody who you haven’t been able to see very much in the last few months and over the last year. I really want to make this happen again.”
In a following interview with the BBC Ms Whately went on to say that visitors to care homes would still have to wear face masks and other PPE to protect both themselves and residents if and when the regulations concerning visiting were relaxed.
The government claim that all care home staff and residents have been offered the Covid jab, so the first line of defence is now in place.
So when can we start visiting our relatives properly? It is true that through screens etc visits have been possible throughout the pandemic, but if your relatives are anything like mine, well, these barriers have been just that, barriers against hearing, expression and nonverbal communication.
According to Ageuk.org, the 4 steps that need to be taken are based on data and will begin on 12th March and continue over the next few months. The 4 steps are
This means that no earlier than 8th March every care home resident can nominate a named visitor who can visit regularly. The visitor will have to have a test and a wear a mask.
No earlier than the 29th March you can meet up to 6 people in outdoor settings whilst social distancing
No earlier than 12th April non-essential retail, hairdressers etc can open, restaurants and pubs can serve outside and crucially for the care home sector public building such as libraries and community centres can open up.
No earlier than 17th May you can meet with 1 other household indoors, up to 30 people can meet outside and up to 30 people can attend commemorative events.
No earlier than 21st June all limits will be removed.
We can now cautiously say that this long winter of hardship, alienation, loneliness, and loss is slowly drawing to a close. As I look out of my window, I can see snowdrops and the shoots of daffodils. Bluebells are soon to come into bloom, crocuses and primroses will be out in no time and Mothering Sunday is just around the corner. It will be a decision my mum will have to take whether its me or my sister who gets to see her this year, and whoever of us she chooses will be delighted. To think that we may be all be able to meet in time for my nephew’s birthday this summer fills us all with hope…