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25 June 2020
Care home visiting to be allowed from July


Care home visiting to be allowed from July

Residents in some care homes will be able to see visitors outside from 3 July, the Scottish Government has announced.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said that care homes that have been coronavirus free for at least 28 days will be allowed to receive visitors outdoors.

Communal activities and use of outdoor areas will also be allowed to resume under strict rules.

Guidance from the Scottish Government’s care homes clinical and professional advisory group sets out a four-phase approach to the reopening of care homes to visitors.

At present only essential visits are allowed, such as to see relatives who are at the end of life.

Stage two of the plan, where outdoor visiting with one nominated person will be allowed, comes in from 3 July. There are no dates provided for subsequent stages of the plan, which will lead eventually to a “controlled programme” of indoor visiting in stage four.

Homes with no outbreaks of COVID-19 can move forward with the staged plan immediately from 3 July.

Homes that have previously had outbreaks must wait until 28 days until after the last resident shows any symptom and be declared outbreak free by Health Protection Scotland or the Director of Public Health.

Outdoor visitors must maintain physical distancing and wear a face covering for the duration of the visit.

The guidance discusses the impact of isolation on older people in care, particularly those with dementia and others with cognitive and communication difficulties.

It also says that consideration will need to be given by care home staff on the “specific needs” of the residents on an individual basis to ensure it would be safe and not cause distress.

A maximum of one visit per resident per week is suggested for the initial stage of the plan.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “I fully appreciate that the necessary restrictions placed on care homes have been challenging for the people living in care homes, their loved ones, and the staff. Care homes are first and foremost people’s homes, and it is now important that we find safe ways for residents to reconnect with their families and friends.

“Significant progress is being made and we are continuing to see improvements with fewer care homes currently having an infection. On that basis, we can now see a phased return to visiting in care homes when and where it is clinically safe to do so.

“It is crucial that we do this incrementally and proceed with real caution to protect vulnerable residents and staff. Only outside visiting with a named key visitor using appropriate physical distancing and safety measures can be permitted from 3 July. When the scientific advice states that it is safe to do so, we can then gradually open up further visiting options.

“Today’s publication will be important news for families with loved ones in care homes. I recognise how long people have been waiting to see their friends and families and I hope to be able to offer further updates in the coming weeks in order to reconnect even more loved ones.”

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