The news released over the weekend is that plans are being finalised for care home residents to be able to have one regular visitor. To be able to see them in the care home and even hold hands, is a welcome piece of good news for so many of our clients, their families and indeed so many people. It's also hopefully a sign of brighter things to come for all as the vaccine rollout continues at a significant pace. Rapid testing and PPE requirements mean it won't quite be a return to normal, and being limited to just one visitor may not be ideal - but for significant numbers of care home residents, it may have been a year since they have seen a family member face to face.
For so many people, the lack of physical contact has been exacerbated due to limitations on other methods of communication - or their efficacy - for those within a care home setting. Whether poor resident wi-fi provision, lack of staffing to support the extra needs of residents to support their use of technology or physical limitations of users who perhaps are unable to hear clearly through an electronic device, it is clear that the future re-visioning of how society 'works', once the present requirements of the lockdowns and pandemic management have passed, will need to explore how the use of technology can be enhanced, more widely available within communities who perhaps haven't previously seen a need or had a desire for such services and generally can be better facilitated.
And for those with family in such care settings, where their loved one is at some distance away and regular visiting isn't (and indeed perhaps never has been) an option, one hopes that for them the now routine facilitation of online video calls by care staff can continue as a normal part of life to enable them to have more regular contact with their loved ones.
Often the pandemic has felt very difficult but every cloud has a silver lining, and a changing culture around online provisions in care homes might just be one such benefit that the pandemic has helped to bring forward - let's hope that the resource to support that regular and ongoing use is also seen as a long term essential too.
Care home residents in England will be allowed one regular visitor from 8 March, in the first easing of lockdown since its reintroduction last month. They will be able to meet indoors and hold hands - but visitors must wear PPE and be tested beforehand. The health secretary said the move was a "first step" to allow more visiting. Downing Street sources say an "absolute priority" is to try and reunite families and give people more social contact as lockdown is eased.