A BLANKET ban on visitors in care homes has been lifted – after just five days.

Care homes in Somerset were told they had to ‘pause’ visits from residents’ family members on Friday (November 27).

Somerset County Council (SCC) sent a letter to care homes across the county suspending visits until further notice, after “several Covid-19 outbreaks in care settings”.

Now the council has reviewed the latest guidance from Public Health England and is supporting a “phased return” for family visitations.

But many family members of residents and even care workers were upset about the sudden blanket ban.

One care worker, who does not wish to be named, said: “When I saw the letter, I immediately felt disappointed for the residents who have already been isolated from family this year.

“It turned to anger because I feel nobody is asking the residents what they would want.

“The feeling I get from working in a care home, is that those residents who have capacity would rather take risks to see their family.

“I think should be up to the residents.

“All we are doing is depriving people of their rights, they are just having to do what we say because of the laws that have been implemented because of Covid-19.”

Former Wellington councillor, Janet Reed, is among those unable to see relatives due to the ban.

Her husband has dementia and lives at the Oaktree Court Care Home in Wellington.

And Mrs Reed – a former district and town councillor – said the move was “heartbreaking”.

“I still want to visit my husband,” she said. “He has become more frail since lockdown, and I haven’t been able to touch him or hold him for nine months.”

She said the blanket ban was the “wrong decision”, with care homes like Oaktree implementing a range of safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“There are so many of us in this situation, it’s heartbreaking, it really is,” she added.

“The council did the wrong thing, judging every care home the same way.

“It isn’t a problem in every care home.”

SCC have now agreed to visits in care homes where “Covid-secure arrangements, such as substantial screens and visiting pods” are in place.

“Thanks to the incredible efforts from our care home providers and staff, this was the first time we’ve paused care home visits here in Somerset since the start of the pandemic,” said a SCC spokesperson.

“We’ve worked with Public Health colleagues to now support a phased return to family visitation.

“Therefore, now visits can be undertaken within the national Tier Two Guidelines in the following circumstances:

• Visits may take place where Covid-secure arrangements such as substantial screens and visiting pods have been provided.

• Window visits may also be undertaken.

• Whilst outdoor or airtight visits are permitted within Tier Two, when available, the rollout of rapid testing will enable indoor visits to be undertaken.”

A Taunton resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, visits her mum regularly in Burnham-on-Sea and found it “distressing” when she heard the news.

“I was so looking forward to seeing my mum, it was very distressing,” she said.

“But the care home are only doing what they are instructed to do. They are just following the guidelines.

“People in care homes haven’t got time on their side to wait for things to put into practice.

“I think some care homes are probably better than others and this makes it easier for people to visit.

“But for places that don’t have screens or visiting pods, it must be dreadful.

“Wives and husbands that have been married for years and who can’t see each other – well, it must be horrendous.”