Today (12 Oct) at the daily briefing, the Cabinet Secretary for Health & Sport announced the publication of updated guidance on visiting in adult care homes.
In her announcement, Ms Freeman MSP highlighted that care home residents and loved ones wanted to see changes to visiting restrictions, and that Scottish Government had been working closely with Scottish Care and others on a staged approach to reintroduce visiting in care homes as safely as possible while COVID-19 remains in Scotland. In doing so, they were trying very hard to balance health of residents with quality of life.
The updated guidance provides additional advice to care homes to better balance safety with need for greater contact. It provides greater flexibility for indoor visiting in particular.
Easing measures within the guidance include:
- Extending indoor visits from 30 mins to up to 4 hours
- Outdoor visits extended to up to 6 visitors from no more than 2 households for up to 1 hour at a time
- Increased personal interaction including holding hands
The guidance also provides more clarity & visibility for essential visits. Essential visits should be supported generously, and care homes can draw on local support to implement these where necessary.
The guidance also sets out that visits can be enabled from spiritual care professionals, hairdressers, pets and therapets, and also allows for some gifts and resident belongings to be brought in.
As before, to implement these measures care homes must be COVID free for 28 days and must be taking part in the weekly staff testing programme
The Scottish Government will continue to keep the guidance under review, but this guidance hopefully provides some opportunity for greater & more meaningful contact.
The guidance and accompanying documents, including a letter from the Cabinet Secretary to care homes, can be accessed here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-adult-care-homes-visiting-guidance/
Scottish Care statement on updated visiting guidance:
Everybody is working hard to ensure that care home visiting can be sustained, particularly indoor visits. The measures announced in the guidance today have been considered by the Clinical Group to be safe but it should be recognised that unfortunately, easing of existing restrictions won’t be able to happen everywhere – for instance in areas with additional restrictions – and also won’t be able to be implemented overnight. We very much welcome the increased visiting flexibility that this guidance provides but it will require real partnership activity between Public Health, care homes and relatives. The sector must also be supported, most crucially in sorting out testing to ensure it is reliable and that results are received promptly. Care homes continue to work hard to keep people safe and connected to loved ones, and this announcement must be supported by the wider population continuing to follow FACTS advice as well as other national and local guidance.