Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services
Between 23 and 27 December two households – plus a single-person household – can join together to form an exclusive Christmas bubble. Further details about these arrangements are set out at: https://gov.wales/making-christmas-bubble-friends-and-family
However, whenever people come together there is always a risk that coronavirus will spread because this is a virus, which thrives on human contact. We urge everyone making plans for the festive period to think carefully about how they can reduce their risk of catching – and spreading – coronavirus and keeping their loved ones safe, especially more vulnerable members of their family.
Some people have made the difficult decision to have a small Christmas this year, preferring to wait for next year and the hope of vaccination and a relaxation of restrictions before seeing other family members.
This year has been particularly difficult for people living in care homes and their families – they have been separated from each other for many months. I do not underestimate just how difficult this has been and the lasting impact this has had on all.
I know many people with close family and loved ones living in care homes will be hoping to spend time with them this Christmas – either in their home or the care home.
As the current coronavirus situation remains serious in Wales, I would urge everyone in this position to discuss this with the care home provider. However careful we all are, none of us wants to risk coronavirus entering our care homes.
The need to balance people’s rights and support their well-being with the need to protect people living in care homes from the risk of infection remains very challenging. The public health advice is that indoor visits and overnight stays by care home residents with their families over Christmas, will present a risk of infection with coronavirus to both them and the wider care home residents.
These risks should be considered and evaluated by the person, their family and the care home provider when considering visits out of the care home. Care home providers and families can take steps to mitigate the risks of a visit out of the care home but it cannot be removed completely.
Any decision to spend time away from the care home during the five-day Christmas period when the UK-wide common arrangements are in force – between 23 and 27 December – should be informed by a dynamic risk assessment, which upholds rights and choice and involves the care home provider, the care home resident and their family.
Unfortunately, in the current circumstances adults will need to self-isolate for 14 days on their return to the care home. I appreciate that this will be disappointing.
We will be publishing FAQs to support families. These will be available at: https://gov.wales/visits-care-homes-guidance-providers.
Care homes across Wales, supported by the Welsh Government, have been working hard to facilitate indoor visits and to help people maintain contact with their families and friends when routine visits have not been possible. They are making plans to ensure the next few weeks are as festive as possible.
Care home providers and their staff have worked exceptionally hard and I applaud those efforts and their innovation because they make a huge difference.