Sage Advocacy has appealed to owners and operators of nursing homes to respect and comply with new Covid-19 guidance on visits to nursing homes and long term residential care facilities, which has been published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy, said although families and relatives will welcome the latest guidance document because it provides them with further clarity about the HPSC’s visiting policy up to Level 5, it fails to establish a set of national protocols relating to nursing home visits.
‘‘We have previously warned that while guidelines have been in place before in relation to nursing home visits these have been open to interpretation by nursing home owners and operators and as a result different restrictions have been in place from nursing home to nursing home and from county to county.
‘‘This new HPSC guidance document gives families a reference point – for example in relation to window visiting where a person stands outside and speaks to a person at safe distance through an open window or by telephone it clearly states this is acceptable at any framework level and during outbreaks.
‘‘The number one priority must always be to safeguard the health and well being of both residents and the staff who care for them. But we remain concerned that some nursing home operators and owners may choose to ignore this latest guidance from the HPSC because, they continue to view vists by families and relatives as a Covid-19 risk.
‘‘Last month a senior HSE official told the Oireachtas Special Commitee on Covid-19 Response that there is ‘very little evidence that visitors introduce Covid infection to nursing homes’ and that ‘much more of the risk is through staff transmission’.
‘‘We urge nursing home operators and owners to show compassion and while being vigilant to infection control ensure that the bond between nursing home residents and and their loved ones is not broken because of the threat of Covid-19.’’