Family and friends of people living in nursing homes in England will have access to regular testing so they can visit their loved ones, the government said.
A new pilot launch on Monday will take place in 20 nursing homes in Hampshire, Devon and Cornwall. However, according to the UK Department of Health and Welfare, the program will roll out in other regions before Christmas.
The tests offered to a family member or friend for each resident, when combined with other protective measures such as PPE, could put an end to “heartbreaking” visit restrictions.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I know how heartbreaking it was to limit visits to nursing homes, not just for residents – many of whom are feeling disoriented and confused by the situation – but also for their loved ones who are not easy can hug each other to support them during this difficult time. “
He added, “By respecting social distancing and staying home as much as possible, we will help bring families and friends back together with loved ones in nursing homes as soon as possible.”
The Alzheimer’s Society commended ministers for recognizing their calls for “the integral role family carers play in helping their loved ones with dementia” but feared that the change in approach may have come too late for some.
The charity said, “We fear that it is too late for the desperate families who have waited eight months to visit loved ones.
“The promise that care home visitors will be at the forefront of getting more tests when the new ones are available needs to be a reality quickly.
“We have to recognize the terrible psychological distress of people with dementia who simply give up their lives, and of thousands of grieving families who have not been with loved ones in the past few months, weeks and days. and who will never be able to get that precious time back. “