After a long, difficult and unprecedented year, many of us are looking forward to the festive season. This is especially true of the residents and staff within the country’s care homes, who have had to deal with rapidly changing guidance, infection control requirements and significant restrictions to their daily lives.
At a time when the national Covid-19 strategy appears to be focused on enabling most families and friends to meet, it is cruelly ironic to read that some care homes are being directed not to put up decorations.
Care home operators have obligations to provide safe care to their residents, but also to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of those who work at their homes. These requirements extend to ensuring that any infection risks to residents and staff are controlled so far as reasonably practicable. These requirements (and now the Covid-19 guidance) are fundamental to the operations of all homes, and safety is a key priority for all providers.
Notwithstanding this, there is also a need for providers to ensure resident and staff well-being and to boost morale, especially as we move through the second national lockdown. The mental health of residents and its impact on their physical health often appears to be overlooked, whether in relation to care home visits or the apparent prohibition of decorations.
Throughout the Pandemic, providers have had to balance their differing obligations (which are often competing) to act in the best interests of their residents and staff, and this same approach will need to be taken in relation to the festive celebrations - this does not mean, however, that Christmas decorations and celebrations need to be banned.
To avoid prohibitions like those discussed in the attached article, it appears sensible for local authorities and providers to work together to ensure residents and staff have a safe and happy Christmas. If properly planned and approached there should be nothing stopping care homes and their residents celebrating Christmas together.
Even if visits are enabled in time for the holiday period, some care homes may not appear very festive because health authorities have raised concerns that decorations may spread infection.