Today, the Department of Health and Social Care announced that people living in care homes in England will be able to have visits from family and friends by Christmas if visitors test negative for Covid-19.

The Government will be providing additional free PPE to care homes and will be expanding testing to family and friends to enable safe family contact.

The Department of Health and Social Care also published new guidance which allows some people under 65 to spend time with one household at Christmas outside of care homes.

However, the Government is yet to publish guidance or expand the free PPE and testing for families to supported living settings.

Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said:

“This new guidance is a step forward for working aged disabled adults living in care homes, but it fails to give hope to thousands of people residing in supported living settings who are desperate to hug their family this Christmas.

“Many people with a learning disability rely on family contact for additional support and wellbeing. They desperately want to spend Christmas with their family, but don’t know if they will be allowed to – they have been forgotten from today’s announcements.

“Social care is not just for older people in care homes – almost half of the social care budget is spent on support for working-aged disabled adults, many of whom receive care via supported living. We urge the Government to expand testing for families and set out guidance on how the Christmas bubble policy will apply to disabled people who live in supported living settings to enable safe family contact this Christmas. Matt Hancock – please don’t cancel Christmas for thousands of people with a learning disability and their families.”

Read the Government announcement and guidance here.


For further information or to arrange an interview with a Mencap spokesperson or case study, please contact Mencap’s media team on: or 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).         

Notes to editors

About Mencap   

There are approximately 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. 


For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (10am-3pm, Monday-Friday) or email         

What is a learning disability?

  • A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;    
  • Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;     
  • People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.