Care professionals are criticising a new quarantine policy which they say could be financially ruinous for care homes across Wales.

Public Health Wales has sent a letter to care home managers saying they should "not routinely accept new residents until they have had no new cases for 28 days", but many homes are only profitable if they're close to full.

Public Health Wales say the measures are to protect those being admitted and those already in care.

Karen Healey runs Tregwilym Lodge, a home in Rogerstone, Newport specialising in care for people with dementia. She says the new policy means she won't have any new residents until August at the earliest.

"Bringing in the policy now when I have 21 beds empty, the financial implications of the policy are catastrophic to care", Karen told ITV Cymru Wales.

Karen Healey runs Tregwilym Lodge, a home in Rogerstone, Newport Credit: ITV News

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Mario Kreft MBE, chair of Care Forum Wales, says Public Health Wales did not engage with care professionals before implementing the new policy.

"As a consequence their approach has not always been appropriate and their advice to the Welsh Government has been incomplete.

"The 28-day Covid-free policy is a case in point. They have come up with a one-size fits all policy which assumes that all care settings in Wales are the same when that is patently not the case.

"Some care homes will be able to isolate particular residents while others will not have that ability because of the scale and design of the home.”

Care Forum Wales is warning that up to half of care homes in Wales could be threatened with closure due to the financial implications of the policy.

Most homes plan for occupancy to be at more than 90% at all times. Coronavirus has reduced that to lower than 80% in many homes already. It is feared by care professionals that the new Public Health Wales could reduce occupancy further.

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Karen understands the need for a cautious approach. In April, 14 residents in her home died from suspected coronavirus, something she described as a "catastrophic loss".

Each of the residents had showed symptoms of coronavirus before they died, although tests were not carried out.

Karen, who has been a nurse for more than 40 years, says she wants more regular testing on a bigger scale to ensure care home residents are safe.

A Public Health Wales spokesperson said: "This guidance is intended to protect those being admitted into care homes, and those who are already in care homes, many of whom are extremely vulnerable, as well as preventing the spread of Coronavirus.

"Standard outbreak control procedure is to declare an outbreak over after a minimum of two incubation periods of the disease. Therefore, the advice not to allow new admissions for 28 days is because Coronavirus has an incubation period of 14 days, so two incubation periods would be a total of 28 days.

"This public health advice is intended to protect the individual and increase the likelihood of that home staying free of Coronavirus.

"This guidance is based on established technical outbreak control principles and practices used across the UK and internationally, and is in line with that usually advised in the scientific literature. As we learn more about this disease and the local situation in Wales evolves, we will continue to review, amend and ensure understanding of our Public Health guidance.

"Our staff have been supporting around 600 care homes in every part of Wales, and we recognise the enormous pressure the care home system and staff are under as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. We respect that this is challenging but it remains essential to follow such routine guidance to protect vulnerable individuals in the population."