FAMILIES in Worcestershire will be reunited with loved ones in care homes following a decision by Public Health bosses to allow limited visits.

A spokesman for Worcestershire County Council Public Health say they have considered the current situation and the impact the closure to visitors is having on families and residents.

Despite infection rates being higher in many areas than in September when the decision was taken to stop visits, the spokesman said care homes will be able to welcome limited visitors, providing strict safety measures are in place.

Michelle Kudhail, director of clinical excellence at care home Inspire Neurocare Worcester, said she welcomes the news that Worcestershire is now permitting visits.

She said: “We understand how important it is that our residents and their loved ones are able to see each other, so we have a dedicated internal Covid-secure visiting space to safely welcome guests into our service. We’ve tried to make the space as comfortable as possible so everyone can relax and enjoy the visit.

“Our family and friends lounge has a clear floor to ceiling screen which allows visits to take place without the need to wear masks and other forms of PPE.

“Plus, we have installed a state-of-the-art amplification system so you can chat and interact as you normally would, with crystal clear sound.

“There’s a separate entrance to the lounge so all of our enhanced infection measures remain in place and in between each visit the lounge is fully sanitised with our robust cleaning process, ready for the next family to enjoy.”

City resident Teresa Webb said allowing visits at care homes now was "too late" for her family.

She said: “It's too late for me and my mum. After four-and-a-half months apart, she died a month ago. She felt abandoned and just gave up.

“I don’t blame the care homes. I blame the government who locked down too late and also knowingly allowed Covid patients to be discharged to care homes.”

Fellow resident Andrew Brown added: “It’s quite right. My mum is in a care home in Shropshire and they have closed to visits again and they are in same level as Worcestershire.

“I think it’s wrong and inhumane. People can lose the will to live and who wants their last memory of their relative to be a Zoom call?”

Dr Kathryn Cobain, director of Public Health for Worcestershire, said: “Our first priority must always be the safety and health of our most vulnerable, poorly and elderly residents.

“Restricting visits to care homes was a very difficult decision, and we promised we would continue to monitor the impact this would have.

“It is always a question of balancing protection from Covid-19, with the mental health and emotional wellbeing aspects of restricting family contact.

“With these considerations in mind, we have decided to advise that care homes can re-open to limited visitors, providing there are stringent safety measures in place.

“I hope this will ease worry and anxiety for Worcestershire families and I thank our residents, families, and care homes for working with us to protect loved ones.”

Extra care and supported living residents will also be advised they can open to limited family visits again.

County councillor Adrian Hardman, cabinet member with responsibility for adult social care, said: “Thank you to every family who has had to sacrifice visiting their loved ones in order to keep them safe. We know this was extremely difficult and upsetting, and we thank you for co-operating fully to protect those we love.

“I hope the re-opening of care homes for visits will bring comfort and reassurance.

“When you visit, please follow the rules, they are there to protect everyone. Covid-19 is on the rise still, we must take it as seriously as ever.”