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Crisis in care homes as visitor restrictions causing “hidden catastrophe”

Leading charities have written a letter to the health secretary, appealing for relatives of care home residents to be treated as key workers.

They argue that the current restrictions on family visitations are having “damaging consequences” on the mental and physical health of residents – particularly those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The call for a review of current limits is supported by Dementia UK and the Alzheimer’s Society, who are asking the government to address the “hidden catastrophe” in care homes.

The letter requests that visits are allowed to resume safely and that relatives can access the same testing as staff. They are asking the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to publish more in-depth guidance on visiting procedures and for certain relatives to be granted ‘key worker’ status – which would allow them to access increased testing.

Residents with dementia make up 70% of the care home population and the charities are highlighting how the “enforced separation” of residents from their families is causing them to deteriorate more rapidly.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there have been 5,404 excess dementia and Alzheimer’s deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has released a statement outlining how they will be setting out further details on how to re-open care homes “carefully and safely”.