Relatives of residents in county council care homes could soon be allowed to meet with their loved ones outdoors while socially distancing.
Derbyshire County Council, in response to new government guidance over “support bubbles”, is looking into how to safely relax visiting restrictions.
Visits to all 23 of the council’s care homes have been banned since March.
The move is noted in a report due to be discussed in an adult social care cabinet meeting next week.
It says: “It is considered necessary to continue with visiting restrictions to DCC care homes as general social distancing requirements are still in place.
“It is important DCC maintains this overall position in order to protect vulnerable people living within the homes who may have long term or underlying health conditions which puts them at more risk should they contract Covid-19.
“National guidance has changed to enable family members to visit loved ones at the end of life and this is being delivered locally and this is being facilitated.
“As a result of the latest changes to social distancing arrangements introduced by the Government this week, officers are exploring how visiting restrictions can be relaxed to enable a relative to meet with a loved one in an appropriate outdoor space, whilst social distancing is maintained.
“This work will be undertaken in conjunction with Health and Safety and Public Health colleagues to ensure any relaxing of the current arrangements are undertaken in a way that continues to minimise the risk to all parties of infection spread.”
Derbyshire’s private care home firms are also looking to relax visitation policies to fit with updated government guidance.
Milford Care, which runs six care homes in Alfreton, Ashbourne, Belper, Hucknall and Milford, is looking at its garden spaces to see if it can “safely manage relatives being able to visit their loved one”.
In a statement on its website this week the firm says: “Relatives of our residents who are sadly at end of life, very unwell or the manager deems necessary, will be allowed to visit and PPE will be provided in the meantime. We are open to new admissions but these are managed very carefully.”
All Milford Care residents and staff have now had a Covid-19 test.
Adept Care Homes, which runs three Derbyshire homes in Alvaston; Douglas Street, Derby and Clay Cross, is also allowing family members to visit residents – while outdoor and maintaining social distancing.
These three homes care for 148 residents.
Relatives can book multiple slots throughout the week but the firm asks that visiting relatives are from the same household.
As of June 18, the county council has tested 793 care staff out of its total 969 – of which 34 have tested positive for Covid-19. Of those tested, 735 staff tested negative for the virus while 24 were void.
This is a sharp increase on the number of staff tested two weeks ago – when the council had only tested a quarter of its staff, with 20 testing positive.
However, the cumulative number of council care home residents testing positive has risen by a quarter in the space of two weeks from 104 to 129.
As of June 18, 19 council care home residents have died after contracting Covid-19.
A council spokesperson said: “We have 23 Derbyshire County Council care homes in the county and national whole home testing is now taking place across all of our care homes, in line with the latest government guidelines.
“We’re moving ahead rapidly with the new testing regime and are supporting all Derbyshire care homes to get staff and residents tested, including more than 140 residential homes in the private, voluntary and independent sector.
“We have been supporting testing in line with government policy throughout the pandemic which is an unprecedented and fast-moving situation.”