CARE homes are working as fast as they can to make it safe for families to visit their loved ones.

Staff across Bolton are trying to find a way to ensure families can have close contact visits with residents before Christmas.

Cllr Andy Morgan, who also runs a care home in the borough, said the visits can't be allowed until everyone is certain they can be done safely.

He said: "If lateral flow tests aren't done by a trained individual they're only 50 per cent reliable, which is not a risk you can take when you have vulnerable adults in your care.

"This testing scheme is a massive strain on resources – a half hour visit will take around an hour and half of staff time by giving the test, aiding the visit, and decontaminating the space afterwards.

"It's a big task, and we need to make sure this is safe.

"Unless I'm confident and comfortable rolling this out in my home, I'm not going to tell people to start rolling it out in theirs."

Care providers are keen to introduce the scheme, which will allow families to hold hands with their relatives for the first time since March.

However, nearly every care organisation in the borough has raised the same concerns about resources, liability, and safety.

Bolton Council will not allow close contact visitation until further guidance has been released, allowing all homes to facilitate safe visits.

Cllr Morgan added: "Another issue is the availability of tests, we had 15 tests delivered to our home – that wouldn't even last a day.

"I need 135 tests each week just for my staff and residents, and to use them for visits too, I need at least 200 or 300.

"How do you decide who comes to visit when you've got so few tests?

"We will continue working with our care homes to ensure that they are able to support visits in the safest way, but we are assured that all measures are in place to facilitate close contact visiting we encourage care homes to continue to allow visiting pod and window visits, along with the use of technology such as Zoom calls and Facetime to keep the residents in touch with their families.

“Only when we are confident safety measures are in place will we announce when it is appropriate to allow close contact visiting.”