Visiting relatives over Christmas

Dear family member,

In my last letter to you dated 9th December I was happy to be able to set out how we
planned to facilitate visits over the Christmas period. By making use of rapid ‘lateral flow’
coronavirus tests, we hoped that as many people we support as possible would either be able
to visit family members or have family members visit them over the five day window during
which restrictions were to be eased.

However, it is with a very heavy heart that I must let you know that our guidance on visits
over Christmas has had to change due to the surge in coronavirus cases and the new rules
issued by the government in both England and Wales.

All of London and most of the south-east of England has now been placed in ‘Tier 4’
which means that all mixing of households over Christmas has been banned. Other than
in exceptional cases, I’m afraid this will mean that no visits will be possible at all in ‘Tier 4’
areas – unless a single family member is able to arrange an outside meeting in a public space.

In the rest of England, three households can still mix indoors but only on Christmas Day
and no overnight stays are allowed. The situation in Wales is similar, although only two
households are able to mix indoors plus one other single-person household.

It may, therefore, be possible to arrange for your loved one to visit you on Christmas Day
other than for those who live in ‘Tier 4’. However, in most cases it won’t be possible for any
family member to visit a loved one in one of our services, unless it is a single-person service
and you have formed a support bubble with your loved one.

I know this will cause a lot of pain, sadness and frustration. It really isn’t where we should be
now, nine months into this pandemic. But I do still firmly believe that things will get better in 2021.

The roll-out of the vaccine is continuing at pace and we hope that as many people as
possible will take up the vaccine. I would also like to reassure you that we will have adequate
numbers of colleagues on duty to support your loved one over Christmas and make it special
for them, and we will do all we can to facilitate virtual ways for you to keep in touch with them
– such as by Zoom calls, etc.

If you have any questions about Christmas, or have any other questions about how we are
supporting your loved one, please liaise with your Locality Manager or contact our helpline
for families (open from 9.30am to 1.30pm, Monday to Friday) on 0300 303 9161 or email
the team at The helpline will close from 1.30pm on
Wednesday 23rd December and re-open on Tuesday 5th January.

Despite it all, I would like to wish you a peaceful Christmas.

Best wishes,

Steve Scown
Chief Executive
Dimensions Group (including Discovery)

PS – I know that some family members prefer bullet points to letters, so attached to this is a
simple rundown of the key points.

Key points from the letter

The government has changed the rules about meeting up with family and
friends over Christmas.

Lots more people are infected with the virus and a new type of coronavirus is
easier to pass on to others.

These are the new rules:

If you or your relative live in Tier 4 you will not be able to see each other indoors
over Christmas.

It might be possible to arrange a short outdoors meeting in a public place with
just one person.

You must wear a mask and not hug or touch each other if you do this.

You cannot visit your relative in their Discovery home on Christmas Day.

In exceptional circumstance your relative may be able to go to your home on
Christmas day.

We are sorry we have to change the rules at short notice.

Our staff have cancelled their own holiday plans and will make sure your
relative has a good day.

We will make sure you can seek to your relative on the phone or in a video call.

We hope everyone will get the vaccination as soon as it is available to them.