New Guidance

11 December 2020

Dear Relative/Friend

We imagine you will have seen in the news that care homes are now ‘open for visitors’, through the provision of rapid testing (lateral flow tests) for visitors. This was announced almost as if visiting would be able to return to normal. Sadly, this is not the case.

On 1st December 2020, the government issued updated guidance on visiting within care homes. This guidance can be found on

The guidance clearly states that the emphasis is on providers and registered care managers to ensure that all visits are subject to risk assessments whilst ensuring the safety of all concerned and to ensure the home can provide the necessary arrangements to facilitate these visits.

The guidance also states that the Regional Directors for Public Health also have the power to introduce different local guidance on visiting. Therefore, please understand that what we are able to do, may differ from county to county, and through time, which is out of our control.

For example, Bolton County Council has directed us not to use the Lateral Flow Tests due to concerns over reliability. However, we are now permitted to open up our visitors’ pod.

We fully appreciate how distressing it can be not being able to see a loved one and we are doing everything we can to facilitate this process. However, our main priority has always been, and will continue to be, to ensure the protection and safety of all concerned.

You may also have seen that there are serious concerns regarding the accuracy of the Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) which are being issued to care homes and would be key to being able to allow safe visits inside the home. Indeed, some local authorities are directing care homes not to use them.

Having carefully considered this guidance, advice from Public Health Directors and Abbey Healthcare Management team, our latest policy on visits will be as follows.

  • Visitor room/Pod visits will continue and be reintroduced where this has been halted due to local measures. This will be subject to instructions from the Regional Public Health Directors.
    Exceptional visits will continue in discussion with the Home Manager
  • We have decided to take a staged approach to the Lateral Testing Procedure and to this and will firstly prioritise visits with consideration being given for those residents who are bed fast or under the present policy have not received visits for several months.
  • For the moment these visits for the above residents will be limited to one visit per month with up to 2 visitors per visit.
  • The visits will be subject to a negative Lateral Flow test and you will be supported to undertake this test by our staff once they have received the necessary training
  • Visitors will need to give consent to the test
  • Further details on exactly how this will be carried out will be discussed with the home manager

Whilst we fully understand this is not the desired outcome many of you would want, we hope you appreciate that we need to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone concerned. We also note that it appears that a vaccine is likely to available in the near future, which will permit safe visiting, and ask for your ongoing support until this is possible.

Our home managers and staff have done and continue to do a fantastic job which is very much appreciated, this remains a very pressured and stressful for time for them and we continue to support them in every way we can. We ask that you please continue to do the same and understand that managers are acting in line with national guidance and their primary goal is to keep everyone safe.

Our home managers are happy to answer any questions you have however if you would like to discuss any questions/concerns you have, then the management team are happy to answer. If you could kindly send an e mail to one of the management team will respond to you as soon as practically possible.

As stated, every decision we make is thought through and discussed fully, with the safety of all at the forefront of every decision.

Yours sincerely

Abbey Healthcare Management Team