Birkdale Park with a new approach to the Care Home COVID challenge.

A Southport care home manager who has used his rickshaw during lockdown as a genius way of helping residents to meet their family members has welcomed new Government guidance for care homes. 

From this Tuesday (4th May), all care home residents will be able to participate in more out-of-home visits without having to isolate on their return.

Residents will be able to leave their care homes to visit a friend or family member’s garden, or go on walks in places such as parks, public gardens and beaches. They will not have to self-isolate when they return.

Residents must be accompanied by either a care worker, or nominated visitor, and follow the government guidelines of washing hands regularly, keeping social distance, and remaining outside, in line with Step 2 of the government’s roadmap.

During the pandemic, Registered Care Manager Jonathan Cunningham MBE has been determined to use government guidance to ensure the absolute safety of his residents. 

Within that, he has also worked hard to ensure that people in his homes have not been left isolated, using his rickshaw as an innovative way to ensure they have been able to enjoy some much-needed enjoyment. 

Jonathan Cunningham MBE is Chair of the North and South Sefton care Home Group representing 132 care homes.

He is also the Registered Care Manager over Birkdale Park Care Home and Rosebank Care Home in Southport and Chair and Founder of The UK Care Home Managers Inner Circle (3,500 members). He said: 

“I am glad to say that at Birkdale Park Nursing Home we have never interpreted the guidance in such a manner. 

“Our residents have safely gone on trips out even with their relatives, trips to see their family in gardens and even see their friends on a golf club green.

“We have never had them isolate. The trips have always been taken within the guidance. “Regrettably this is another indication of additional ‘clarification’ in the face of some care homes choosing not to follow common sense or pragmatic risk assessment. 

“It’s a great day for all social care residents.

“As we see lock down relaxation we must ensure social care isn’t the last consideration.” 

Birkdale Park with a new approach to the Care Home COVID challenge.

Birkdale Park with a new approach to the Care Home COVID challenge.

The changes come as the data shows cases continuing to fall, meaning it is now much safer for care home residents, who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, to leave their homes. Keeping visits outdoors will ensure any risk is minimised as much as possible.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“We know how challenging this time has been for care home residents, so I am pleased that they can now leave their homes to reunite with their loved ones outdoors.

“With the data continuing to head in the right direction, and as restrictions ease, it is my priority to keep increasing visits for residents in the coming weeks in a safe and controlled way.”

Minister for Care, Helen Whately said:

“I know residents and their families have found the restrictions on trips out of care homes incredibly difficult. This is one more step towards getting back to normal, while protecting care homes from the continued risk of COVID-19.

“As part of this interim update before the next stage of the roadmap, care home residents will be able to leave to spend time outdoors. I know this has been long awaited for those who haven’t had a chance to enjoy trips out. I look forward to encouraging more visiting and trips out in future as we turn the tide on this cruel virus.”

To take part in outdoor activities, residents will be accompanied by a member of care home staff, or one of their nominated visitors, and they cannot meet in groups as care home residents are most at risk from COVID-19.

Visits out of the care home should take place solely outdoors, except for the use of toilet facilities, with no visits to indoor spaces (public or private) and avoiding the use of public transport where possible.

An exemption will be in place for those who wish to vote in person in the upcoming local elections, as long as they follow national coronavirus restrictions and measures in place at polling stations. While the majority of residents will have made use of postal votes, or a proxy, those who prefer to vote in person can do so on 6 May.

Jonathan Cunningham MBE, the Registered Care Manager at

Jonathan Cunningham MBE, the Registered Care Manager at
Birkdale Park Nursing Home in Southport

Arrangements in areas with high, or rapidly rising, levels of infection in the local community, and / or variants of concern, will need additional local advice from directors of public health.

Latest statistics show that 95% of residents have received their first dose of the vaccine and 71% have received their second.

Residents who have tested positive, or who have COVID-19 symptoms, must self-isolate and would therefore not be able to leave the care home. In the event of an outbreak, all residents must self-isolate, and visits out will be suspended to prevent the spread of the virus.

As part of the roadmap out of lockdown, guidance was updated on 12th April for care homes to increase visiting, and allow two nominated visitors per resident.

Guidance on visits out of care homes will be kept under review, including, when the data shows it is safe, the requirement for residents to isolate on their return from a visit.

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