Care homes in Portsmouth welcome end to visitor limits to start on Monday

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CARE home bosses in Portsmouth have welcomed the end to restricted visitor numbers due next week, believing it will boost residents’ quality of life.

Managers of sites in the city say the change will ‘bring back that sparkle’ within the community as long as other Covid measures such as frequent testing are maintained.

It comes as the government announced care homes will no longer need to limit visitor numbers from Monday, January 31.

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Previously care home residents were only allowed three visitors and one essential care worker each.

Andrea Pattison outside St Ronan's care home in Southsea

Picture: Habibur RahmanAndrea Pattison outside St Ronan's care home in Southsea

Picture: Habibur Rahman
Andrea Pattison outside St Ronan's care home in Southsea Picture: Habibur Rahman
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Andrea Pattison, the owner of St Ronan's care home in Southsea, was pleased by the update but said her team would go through all the guidelines thoroughly to ensure staff and residents are kept safe as a priority.

She said: ‘We absolutely welcome any effort to make sure that all of our lovely residents have the best possible quality of life. Having those visitors is so important for so many.

‘Of course the devil is in the detail, so we will be looking at who we make sure we can do that and keep everyone safe at the same time.’

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Young carer walking with the elderly woman in the parkYoung carer walking with the elderly woman in the park
Young carer walking with the elderly woman in the park

‘We are hoping that as we move along with the different stages of the pandemic and understanding it better, that we can make sure people can be reunited with their loved ones in a way that suits them and can really bring that sparkle back for those communities.’

The director of Bluewater Care Home in Buckland, Dave Sheppard, agreed.

‘For us the wellbeing of residents is the most important thing,’ he said.

‘We welcome it as long as everyone is still testing - it is fantastic news. We have managed to keep our residents in touch with all their loved ones throughout the pandemic, with up to eight Zoom or Facetime calls a day. So for them it might not change the amount of interaction they have with families but it is always nice to see people face to face.’

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The Bluewater Care Home
Picture Ian Hargreaves (161106-1)The Bluewater Care Home
Picture Ian Hargreaves (161106-1)
The Bluewater Care Home Picture Ian Hargreaves (161106-1)

The Department of Health and Social Care said the changes were possible due to the ‘success’ of the vaccine programme.

Latest data shows 86.5 per cent of all care home residents in England have now had their booster jab.

Roger Batterbury, chairman for Healthwatch Portsmouth, added: ‘We are pleased that due to the continually increasing, to a very high rate of take-up, of the vaccine and supporting evidence from scientific advice that these measures can be introduced.

‘We feel that the rolling back of the government’s plan B curbs in England gives a parity of contact with loved ones of care home residents as that enjoyed by people currently living in their own homes. Healthwatch Portsmouth feel that it is vital to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of care home residents which has for so long been curtailed due to the necessary restrictions on movement brought about by the risks to them of the pandemic.’

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He added with the safety measures in place in Portsmouth City Council-run care homes: ‘We feel therefore that the safety of residents will be maintained at the existing high standard even though the number of visitors to care homes may increase from next Monday.’

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