Care home providers in England issue guidance allowing visitors with sighted guides

Post date: 
Thursday, 11 March 2021
Category: 
Campaigning
Other campaigning
A long cane user holds the elbow of a sighted guide.

The Care Provider Alliance (CPA) has clarified its guidance, which RNIB welcomes, after a blind person was not allowed to visit his mother at her care home.

From 8 March, care home residents will be allowed one regular visitor - provided they are tested for COVID-19 and wear personal protective equipment (PPE). New CPA guidance clarifies that care homes can allow a blind or partially sighted visitor to “bring a sighted guide with them” or the care home can provide “a member of staff to act as a sighted guide”. It explains this is “a reasonable adjustment to make if the care home assesses that it is safe to do so”.

Before the third national lockdown, the one regular visitor restriction prevented some individuals from visiting care home residents, if they needed another person with them to provide support. For example, Steve Springthorpe, a volunteer RNIB campaigner in Loughborough, told us he was refused access to his mother’s care home, because he needed his wife to accompany him as a sighted guide.

Steve said:

My elderly mother has been in a care home suffering with vascular dementia for over a year. Whilst the care given to her by the staff has been fantastic, often going above and beyond the call of duty, I was very disappointed to learn that... interpretation of original guidance meant I could not visit my mother before the third lockdown.

RNIB understands the need to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection, especially at care homes. But we pointed to guidance by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and RNIB’s own guidance, which explain how a person can receive sighted guiding while minimising risk of coronavirus infection. Allowing this assistance for blind and partially sighted visitors – and others disabled visitors – means they will no longer be prevented from visiting loved ones due to their disability.

Steve told us:

I fully understand and would always support the need to protect staff and other residents, however, the clarification by the CPA means that I will hopefully now be able to spend a few more precious moments with my much loved mum. I am delighted and cannot thank the RNIB enough for its help with this.

You can read the CPA guidance on its website. The CPA represents care homes and services across England in private, voluntary and community sectors.