TEMPORARY meeting pods will be installed at Welsh care homes to facilitate family visits over Christmas, the health minister has said.

Vaughan Gething said the £3 million pilot will see an initial 30 pods given to care settings ahead of the festive period, with 100 in total due to be installed later for a period of six months.

The cash figure also includes £1 million to support providers who want to make their own arrangements to facilitate visits.

Mr Gething said the visitor pods would expand capacity within care homes which lack internal visiting space and struggle to accommodate socially-distanced visits from outsiders.


Mr Gething said: “We all know how difficult recent months have been for people living in care homes and their loved ones, however ensuring the safety of our most vulnerable has always been paramount.

“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.

“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.”

The Welsh Government has repeatedly come under fire for their handling of care homes during the pandemic, and last week it was revealed 53 people were discharged from hospital into care homes in Wales within 15 days of them testing positive between March 1 and May 31.

In July, the Welsh Parliament’s health committee said care homes were “badly let down” by the Welsh Government at the start of the crisis, and ministers had been too slow to launch a testing regime for both staff and residents.

On Friday, it was revealed 15 residents had died in a three-week period following a coronavirus outbreak at Llangollen Fechan Care Home in Llangollen, North Wales.

First minister Mark Drakeford said at Friday’s Covid-19 press briefing that the rules around care homes were “much stronger now than they were back in the spring”, and the government had “a much better understanding of the way the virus spreads”.

Mr Drakeford also said care home residents and staff were “very much part” of discussions about which groups would have use of new rapid lateral flow tests which can detect the virus in asymptomatic people.