The Government today eased restrictions in care homes from Monday, including reintroducing unlimited visiting and cutting self-isolation rules.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) has welcomed the news - but also urged caution.
Chair Mike Padgham said: “Of course, we welcome the reintroduction of unlimited visiting as we appreciate how important it is for residents and their families to be together and we, more than anyone, want to end the heartache that separation has brought.
“But we would appeal for caution and patience over this change.
"It is being introduced from Monday which gives care settings precious little time to prepare.
“We also have to bear in mind that care and nursing homes are going through their worst ever staffing crisis and, in some cases, might struggle to accommodate a sudden big influx of visitors.
“It will be down to individual homes to decide but I urge people to be patient with homes and I expect many, like mine for example, will want to retain an appointment system and of course continue to follow the guidance on negative tests, social distancing, personal protective equipment and hygiene.”
He welcomed the cutting of outbreak management rules from 28 days to 14 and the self-isolation period for staff from 14 to 10 days.
“The biggest issues care settings are facing at the moment are staffing levels, low occupancy and rising costs and together they are pushing some to the brink of survival,” Mr Padgham added
“We need to get back to a position where homes can accept new admissions quickly after an outbreak and have the staff on shift to care for them.
“These measures will certainly help, but they are not the complete solution.
“In the short term we still believe the Government should set up a bank of volunteers who can help in care settings while we are so short-staffed.
“And longer term we desperately need the long-promised reform of the care system that would make working in social care a more attractive proposition in terms of staff pay, terms and conditions, so that we can tackle the underlying shortage of staff that continues to cripple the sector.”