Families of nursing home residents are “fearful” of the impact that Level Five restrictions will have on their loved ones, Sage Advocacy has said.
Under Level 5 visits to long term residential care facilities “are suspended with the exception of visits required for critical and compassionate circumstances”.
But guidelines from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre also state that window visiting - where a person stands outside and speaks to a person at safe distance through an open window or by telephone - is acceptable at any framework level and during outbreaks.
Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy, said: “The first priority must always be to safeguard the health and well being of both residents and the staff who care for them.
“But it is also important that the bond between families is not broken because of the threat of Covid-19.
“Nursing home residents have a right to see their families and we know from relatives who are participating in our Nursing Home Residents - Family Forum that they are worried about how their loved ones will cope if they are not able to see them for a long period of time.”
Ms Lennon said that evidence shows that when older or more vulnerable people are physically separated from their family, friends and loved ones and unable to see them it can have a big impact on their well being and their mental health.
Sage Advocacy - which provides a support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients – also believes that further clarification is needed around the 5km ruling in the Level 5 restrictions.
Ms Lennon said: “It is very likely that families will need to travel beyond 5km from their own homes to visit their loved ones in nursing homes for the purpose of window visits and it is unclear if this is deemed as an essential purpose”.