Following the recommendation of the UK Chief Medical Officers, the UK’s alert level has been reduced from level 4 to level 3 and, according to the official guidance, this reduction to alert level three will mean the “gradual relaxing of restrictions and social distancing measures”.

The definition of Level three means the virus is in general circulation, the key difference between level three and level four is that it omits the statement “transmission is high or rising exponentially”. Officials, the media and many others have questioned why the Government has remained on its second-highest alert level, despite already easing several coronavirus measures. A question of “putting the cart before the horse”, rather than following the science?

So, it is good news, but what does it mean for care homes?

Our social care sector has performed magnificently, under unprecedented circumstances, with shortcomings in the supply of PPE, issues around availability of testing, for both residents and staff and a marked slowdown in new people moving in to care.

It is very much a personal call as to whether a loved one should be placed in care in the current situation, with most people we speak with avoiding this, if at all possible. This is totally understandable, however, there are circumstances where there is no alternative.

People who need to be discharged from hospital into care, people who live on their own and lack the capacity, or ability to care for themselves, people whose families live far away and have no local support, are just some examples where care homes may be the only option. There are many others.

Most care homes are continuing to deliver excellent care and the latest figures show that over 60% of care homes have had no instances of the virus, in either residents, or staff, with many of those who have experienced cases having robust management policies in place to control and contain any outbreaks. This is a testament to the professional, dedicated and committed work provided by our social care sector.

That said, if you do find yourself in a situation where a care home has to be seriously considered, it is more vital than ever that you get the most up to date and relevant information and can make an informed decision. Circumstances are constantly changing and you need to know the right questions to ask, such as are there any instances of infection, policies for dealing with outbreaks etc.

Hospital discharge teams and social workers will be as helpful as they can, but they will have an enormous workload at the moment and limited time to deal with it. This may limit your options. So, if you find yourself needing to consider a care home, we have an extensive list of questions we are asking homes, when we carry out searches during the pandemic, and we are happy to talk to you about them, without any obligation.

We can also help you with any other questions you may have on any aspect of care, so if you would like a chat, please call us on 0345 853 0300.