IT’S been over a year since it was possible to go and visit loved ones who reside inside care homes in Wales.

Only two designated visitors could enter a care home according to guidance from the Welsh Government.

From today (Monday, May 24), changes in the guidance mean that anyone can visit a care home, but residents are only permitted to see two people at once.

It’s being left up to local authorities and individual care homes to decide whether or not to allow visits.

These changes will “improve the quality of life for residents and their families” said First Minister Mark Drakeford.

These changes, which allow care homes for both children and adults to welcome relatives and friends of residents to visit, are a result of Covid case numbers’ steady and continued decline.

Care home visits were stopped at the very start of the pandemic with many people having to make-do with seeing their relative through a window.

Family members of residents described the restrictions as ‘cruel’ with many left unable to reassure their loved ones or even hold their hand in the months before they died.

Outdoor visits have been allowed since last summer but lockdowns and localised cases of Covid-19 resulted in many care homes simply stopping people visiting altogether.

One designated visitor has been allowed indoors per resident since March 13, 2021.

When outdoor cafes and beer gardens reopened on April 26, care home visiting guidance was also eased meaning two people were allowed in at once to see a relative indoors.

Under those changes to restrictions, the visitors had to be designated which meant that the same two visitors were the only ones allowed to visit a relative every time. 

From today any two individuals will now be allowed inside to visit a resident after they provide a negative result from a Covid test.

The latest update to restrictions comes after the news that one million people have received both required doses of a Covid vaccine in Wales, weekly infection numbers also show that there are only 9.7 cases per 100,000 people in Wales.

From today visitors in to care homes will be able to hold their relatives hand but will have to wear a facemask to do so, facemasks are only needed if you intend to physically touch a relative, if social distancing rules are stuck to, facemasks aren’t required as long as the room is well-ventilated.

The updated restrictions also allow babies and infants to visit, however the Welsh Government are still advising families with small children not to visit residents indoors because of concerns over social distancing. 

Animals are now also allowed to accompany visitors into care homes.