The nursing home managers were promised quick Covid test kits within a few weeks so that the residents can be reunited with their loved ones in time for Christmas, as the mail reveals.
Officials have written to all nursing home bosses announcing the launch of a program to ensure that proper visits from family members can resume.
The letter from the Department of Health, featured in the Daily Mail, was sent to all nursing homes in England this week.
It says they will have supplies of quick cross-flow tests within a few weeks – and urges nursing homes to prepare for family members to visit their loved ones indoors, where they can finally hug and hold hands.
Nursing home managers were promised quick Covid test kits within a few weeks so residents can be reunited with loved ones in time for Christmas (Image: Relatives in Norfolk reunited)
It is concrete evidence that the ministers intend to keep their promise to reunite nursing home residents with their relatives following our campaign on the issue.
Last night, activists hailed it as "brilliant news", saying it could end "nine months of hell" for troubled families torn apart by cruel visitation restrictions.
The guidelines sent to households read: "The Ministry of Health is beginning to introduce cross-flow tests for nursing homes nationally."
The tests, which give results in 20 to 30 minutes, will be made available "in the coming weeks" and personal protective equipment for visitors will be delivered by December 18th.
The Department of Health's letter said they will receive supplies of rapid cross-flow tests within weeks (Image: A Covid test being done at a Norfolk nursing home).
The Department of Health's email added, "Please consider how best to prepare your nursing home for these new tests."
They have been asked to ensure they have adequate PPE for visitors and they should prepare a designated area for visitor testing.
Nursing homes have also been instructed to train staff in the use of cross-flow tests, and everyone will be invited to a one-hour webinar that explains details on how to use the kits.
The introduction of rapid tests is a big win for Mail's Christmas campaign, which allows all nursing home residents to make meaningful personal visits with their friends and family.
For almost nine months, most relatives have only been able to wave through a window or a Plexiglas screen.
However, on Monday Boris Johnson announced that each resident will be granted two designated “key visitors” who are regularly tested to make sure they are not infected with the virus.
Vic Rayner of the National Care Forum said, “Ultimately, it's great news that lateral flow testing has been available to all nursing homes for weeks.
“We know this is the right thing to do, but it is important that nursing homes have the additional resources they need to facilitate these visits.
"You need extra resources to coordinate staff, tests and PPE for visitors."
Donna Pierpoint, manager of the Broomgrove Nursing Home in Sheffield, said she jumped for joy when she received the email from the DoH.
& # 39; It is absolutely amazing news. We haven't received any data yet, but we have been told that we will receive the tests in the coming weeks.
“Visitors are still required to wear face masks, but that means they can hug and hold hands, which means anything.
“It means that on Christmas Day people can cuddle and hold on to loved ones. I can't wait to see the smiles on people's faces.
& # 39; It feels like a huge government commitment. The tests only take 20 to 30 minutes, so they can arrive on site and find out almost immediately if they are negative. & # 39;
Gavin Terry of the Alzheimer's Society said, “It's good to see the government finally taking these concrete steps.
"At least 70 percent of people in nursing homes have dementia, and it has been nine months of hell for them and their families."
On Thursday, Jeremy Hunt, former health minister, raised the issue in the lower house.
He asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock if every person in a nursing home could be sure that a relative could visit them before Christmas.
Mr. Hancock replied, "We are now developing the protocols for how exactly this can be done and we are working hard to ensure that everyone should have the opportunity to visit a loved one at a nursing home before Christmas."
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