Following the announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the roadmap for exiting lockdown in England, we have summarised the key stages of the roadmap, and what this means for housing-with-care settings. Below you’ll also find the latest information on vaccinations for both staff and residents in housing-with-care.
The roadmap out of lockdown
There are four key stages to the roadmap out of lockdown announced by the Prime Minister. These are:
- From 8th March, schools will reopen, and people can socialise with one other person from another household outdoors. Care home residents can nominate one person to regularly visit.
- From 29th March, people can meet in groups of six outdoors, and outdoor leisure and sport facilities can open.
- From 12th April at the earliest, more spaces and facilities will reopen, including indoor leisure for individual use or within household groups, personal care premises such as hairdressers, outdoor hospitality, and libraries and community centres.
- From 17th May , reopening will be indoor entertainment and attractions, indoor adult sport, and some larger events.
- There will be a 30 person limit for meetings outdoors, and six person limit indoors.
- From 21st June at the earliest, there will be no legal limits on social contact, while larger events will be allowed.
Regulations relating to the roadmap
On Tuesday 23rd March we published this summary of the new COVID-19 regulations announced by the Government, which should be read alongside the roadmap out of lockdown. The summary includes details of the regulations around "Step 1" of the roadmap, as well as the "extra care housing exemption for restaurants, cafes and canteens". Following this, England entered "Step 2" of the roadmap on April 12th, with a slight update to the regulations, as described here:
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps and Local Authority Enforcement Powers) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 came into force on 12 April in England. They confirm that England moved on 12 April to “Step 2” of the Government’s Spring roadmap. They also make some minor amendments to the “Steps” Regulations. Of particular relevance to Retirement Communities is the amendment of restrictions on hospitality premises serving alcohol. The Regulations clarify that an establishment serving alcohol for consumption on the premises may allow customers to enter the premises to pay for food and drink; but the customer must order and sit outdoors and the provider must take all reasonable steps to ensure that they remain seated outdoors while consuming the food or drink on the premises.
The accompanying Government guidance for this update to the regulations can be found here.
What does this mean for housing-with-care?
Broadly, members should ensure the re-opening of particular facilities and services remains in line with the stages of the roadmap set out by the Government. For example, onsite hairdressers can open after 12th April, as can gyms and indoor leisure facilities used by individual residents or members of their household.
As has been the case during lockdown, there are some areas of greater flexibility for housing-with-care settings, such as the ability to offer an eat-in service in a restaurant where this is necessary to safeguard the physical or mental health of a resident, or to open gyms and leisure facilities for those with a disability. These flexibilities will continue as we move through the different stages of the roadmap.
Shielding for the most vulnerable
The roadmap does not change current shielding guidance for those identified as being Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. Those people who received a letter notifying them that they should shield were asked to continue to do so until 31st March. The Government then confirmed that from 1st April, people who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable would no longer be advised to shield. Everyone on the Shielded Patients List should have received a letter at the end of March, informing them of the guidance changes and including practical steps they can follow to reduce their risk of catching COVID-19.
Visits to care settings
Step 3 of the roadmap commenced on Monday, 17th May, from which point five named visitors can visit residents in care homes on a regular basis, so long as no more than two visit on any given day. In addition to these five people, care homes can continue to allow visits for other loved ones and friends through arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, visits behind windows or outdoor visiting.
Members may wish to follow a similar plan for housing-with-care settings – combining limited face-to-face visiting in line with the new measures from 17th May with the continuation of visits using substantial protective equipment. Members can consult the full updated guidance on care home visits published by the Government here.
It is great to hear that a large percentage of our members’ residents and staff have received first Covid-19 vaccines. Everybody aged 70 and above, and all frontline social care workers (together covering the majority of people living and working in housing-with-care settings) were included in the top four groups of the JCVI’s priority list for receiving the vaccine, and should have received their first dose by 15th February.
Everyone will be offered their second dose no more than 12 weeks after their first dose. This means that those in the first four groups who received their first dose by mid-February will get their second dose by mid-May. The NHS has now begun offering the vaccine to those in lower age categories, with over-35s due to begin receiving the jab in the coming days (as of 17th May).
A number of resources may help members during the vaccination programme, including:
- A toolkit listing all of the resources available to help employers address any concerns that staff may have about having the vaccine.
- All eligible staff who haven’t yet received their first dose can book their appointment via the national booking service. Employers can also contact their Local Authority urgently if their staff haven’t been called for vaccination.
- A new nationwide campaign has been launched by DHSC to support the vaccine roll-out. Social media platforms and celebrities have teamed up with the Government and NHS to launch new graphics – and anybody can get involved. The announcement can be read here, and social media tools found here.
Find out more from ARCO
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK, ARCO has shared and provided advice on Covid-19 guidance through a variety of mediums, including daily update emails, regular online discussion and bulletins.
- If you would like to receive the weekly Covid-19 update email that ARCO sends out, including all the latest information and guidance relevant for the housing-with-care sector, then please email Sam Dalton, Policy and External Affairs Manager, via email@example.com.
- If you work for an ARCO member and would like to join our monthly calls to discuss the latest Covid-19 guidance and have your questions answered, then please email Sally Ireland, Barrister and Head of Regulation and Compliance, via firstname.lastname@example.org.