Scottish Care statement on Meaningful Contact.

Scottish Care welcomes the announcement today from the Scottish Government about enabling meaningful access for families into care homes.

The last year has been one of very real pain and anguish for both residents, families and staff in Scotland’s care homes. No one wants to keep people apart and care homes have always had a tradition of making sure that families can be with their relatives who are residents in our care homes. The pandemic and the protective measures which were put in place by Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland, stopped that natural and normal contact.

Scottish Care will work with all parties to make sure that we implement the new Guidelines in a supportive and enabling manner and to do so as urgently and speedily as possible.

However as a body representing many care homes across Scotland, we are very aware of the very real fear and anxiety which exists around opening up care homes. There are hundreds of care home staff and managers who are really fearful and anxious about allowing the virus in. This is especially the case in care homes where there have been outbreaks and sadly deaths. In addition care homes are aware that there are many relatives who themselves are anxious of the virus coming in and who have to date decided not to visit. We need to support everyone to overcome fear and anxiety.

We believe the new Guidelines will offer a way forward which will help re-connect people and that with the hope given by vaccination, appropriate use of PPE, IPC measures and critically a robust and frequent testing system we believe safer visiting is possible. We are, we believe, in a very different position than where we were in the earlier stages of the pandemic.

Scottish Care is committed to supporting our members to ensure that each care home is helped to enact these new measures. We appreciate that this will add additional pressure on frontline staff but believe that this is an absolutely critical step which we all must take. We call on all involved to show understanding and flexibility as these new measures bed in. We hope each care home will work to enable visiting on an individual care home level and not adopt blanket policies.

We fully appreciate the necessity to act speedily yet safely on this issue. We have worked hard to protect and to reduce the risk of infection, but we also fully acknowledge the risks to life and quality of life which have arisen from separation from family. We must all work to restore contact.

We therefore will work to build confidence, reduce fear and to make sure care homes can be open to safe meaningful contact.

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