Scottish Care’s statement on care home visiting

Scottish Care warmly welcomed the announcement to increase the number of outdoor visitors and to start indoor visitors when it was made by the Cabinet Secretary. Care homes were asked to develop plans and submit them by the 24th August. This has meant that in many parts of Scotland indoor visiting has now started. Unfortunately, in some parts of the country this has not been the case. In some places local sign-off has not been achieved  and in others care homes have been unable to satisfy local risk assessment requirements. We are working intensively to address issues at a local level. For specific local reasons there has been a ban on indoor visiting in NHS Tayside and NHS Lanarkshire because of local outbreaks and clusters, and NHS Grampian because of the extended period of lockdown.

We consider that visiting is of fundamental importance in ensuring that residents are able to exercise their human rights to be with family and friends. It has been harrowing and hard for families, residents and indeed staff to be forced to live under such restrictive circumstances over the last six months. This is not a normality that either the sector or families can live with much longer.

Scottish Care has always sought to ensure that we get the balance right between the protection of individuals from the pernicious disease which Covid-19 is and the rights of residents as citizens to be able to make decisions about themselves and live their lives as they would want. More than anyone else we can appreciate and know the horrors of this virus and never again want to witness the loss of life we have seen. We are very well aware indeed of just how vulnerable the care home population is. However, care home providers want the restoration of visiting as urgently as families do.

Looking forward Scottish Care believes that we must all work together to:

  1. Increase (with appropriate protection) the ability of individuals to visit indoors as we come closer to winter.
  2. Increase the use of communal spaces and activities in care homes.
  3. Ensure that family members and relatives are fully involved at national and local level in decision-making and developing Guidance.
  4. Consider the formal designation of a family member as a priority individual who has the right to gain access (with protection and testing ) to the care home as would be the case of other professionals and staff.
  5. Give serious consideration to using testing (especially new salvia tests as they develop) to enable families to visit more frequently.

Dr Donald Macaskill, CEO stated:

“First and foremost, care homes are a home they are not a hospital unit or institution. We are all of us working hard to getting back to re-creating care homes as a place of home, where families can be with their relatives without having to make appointments, be restricted to time, and be limited in what they can do. This will be a slow process, but we must as a society give equal priority to our older citizens in the weeks and months ahead as we do to other sectors and age groups within our community.”