Nursing homes open to visitors again

Galway daily news Day services in Loughrea remain in limbo

People are able to visit their older relatives in nursing homes today for the first time since March.

Nursing homes were to remain closed to visitors until Phase 3 of the roadmap out of the COVID-19 crisis, but Dr Tony Holohan said earlier this month that this was being brought forward, as the NPHET felt that “conditions are right”

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has published new guidelines on how to allow visitors to residential care facilities without endangering patient health.

Whether to allow visits to a care facility is open to the person in charge, and they are ultimately the one responsible for ensuring visits do not “compromise overall
resident care”.

Nursing home residents should have a maximum of two named visitors, only one of whom can be present at any one time.

Visits should be scheduled ahead of time, with visitors coming and going through a separate entrance.

Masks should also be worn at all times in the facility, with temperature and symptom checks also required for visitors, who should be asked if they have had COVID-19, or if anyone close to them has.

These are in cases of nursing homes with no COVID-19 outbreak, if there are cases in the facility, then only essential visits should be allowed.

Sage Advocacy, a group which campaigns for older vulnerable people, welcomed the resumption of visits at nursing homes, saying people are “counting down the minutes” until they can visit loved one.

But the group said the impact COVID-19 has shown the need for private homes to be “integrated” in the public health system framework.

Mervyn Taylor, Executive Director, Sage Advocacy, said many families had suffered heartbreak and loss during the pandemic.

“We know there are many families and friends today who are grieving over the loss of a loved one and we also recognise how difficult it has been for nursing staff, carers and all workers in care homes and residential care facilities.”