Wales rolls out £3m visitor pods pilot

Temporary pods are to be provided to care homes across Wales to better facilitate visits over Christmas and the winter months.

Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething (pictured) said a £3m pilot will cover the procurement, installation and lease of 100 units, with an initial 30 being installed and ready to use before Christmas.

The semi-permanent units will be available for a period of six months, while longer-term solutions are sourced and put in place.

The funding includes £1m for plans to support providers who prefer to make their own arrangements on a similar basis.

Gething said expanding capacity within care homes will help to better support risk-assessed visiting during the winter months as some care providers have found it difficult to support socially distanced visits due to a lack of internal visiting space.

Visiting restrictions for care homes in Wales were eased as wider lockdown restrictions were lifted in the summer, and again following the fire-break.

Since August, guidance has supported the reintroduction of indoor visits where possible with a designated indoor visitor.

“We recognise both the distress and sadness that has been experienced since March, but also the desire from care homes to facilitate visits before and during Christmas as well as throughout the winter. Having engaged with key stakeholders, we are confident these units are a way to enable meaningful visits to take place,” said Gething.

“The pilot scheme will help us to understand whether visiting pods are an effective and practical way of supporting meaningful visits. We will use this learning to determine whether we should consider commissioning a bespoke Wales-based solution in future if the course of the pandemic means this is required,” he added.

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