'I'm not risking it all now' says Leeds care home boss on first day regular visitor allowed
The director of a family-run Leeds care home has said she will not allow visitors inside the home until after all residents have had their second Covid jabs.
The Government has said care home residents in England will be allowed one regular visitor from today (Mon March 8) in the first easing of the latest lockdown.
They will be able meet indoors and hold hands - but all visitors must wear PPE and be tested beforehand.
Marilouise Bree is director of Alexandra Court care home in West Park - which has not had any Covid infections since the pandemic started.
"I'm not risking it all now," she said. "We haven't come this far to fall at the last hurdle.
"They can still visit in the visiting pod and at the windows, but as for inside the building it won't happen for us until they have all had their second jabs."
Marilouise said all 22 residents and the majority of staff had their first jabs on January 15.
The second round of jabs are expected to be given in mid April.
“There's nothing I want more than for visitors to come back into Alexandra Court," said Marilouise.
“We used to have an open door policy. People just came in really as and when they wanted to visit and ideally that is what I want it to go back to.
“We get a weekly email from the council saying what is going on in the care homes.
“in Leeds there are still 15 care homes with active Covid infections. it is ludicrous to allow visitors from March 8.”
“ I have explained my stance to the relatives and they have been really supportive.
"They completely agree that until they have had their second jabs it's too soon to allow visitors in.
“Residents are a bit disappointed. I think it gave them a bit of optimism. It is just false hope.
“We have residents’ meetings regularly. They all know I have been really clear that as soon as they have had their second jabs, then I will follow the Government’s guidance, which will be one designated visitor in the resident’s bedroom, because it's easier to clean the bedroom rather than a communal area."
Kirsty Watson is lifestyle manager of Windsor Court care home in Wetherby, which has around 45 residents.
She said one visitor per resident will be allowed in the garden room at the home from today.
But visitors must have had a negative Covid test and be wearing full PPE - gloves, apron and a face covering.
There will be a plastic screen between the visitor and the resident, but they will be able to hold hands.
Kirsty said: “We are going to get on with it. It has been a long time coming. This is the next step to being able to fully open.
"We can't wait, it's going to be the start of a new page for us."
The government has said that the new measure, which follows advice from the deputy chief medical officers and Public Health England, is the next step towards normal indoor visits resuming at care homes.
A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “Whilst the government announcement states that from March 8 care homes can allow one nominated visitor per resident, the final decision will likely remain with individual care home managers, until new government guidance which we are still awaiting.
“The safety of our residents, their families and our staff is of utmost importance and concern to us.
"We would encourage all care homes to carefully consider the benefits of visiting against the risk of infection now that vaccination, testing and PPE are all available to increase visiting safety.
"We are working extremely closely with all our care homes to ensure the necessary vaccinations are carried out as quickly as possible.”