Some older people have told Sage Advocacy that they are “dreading” Christmas this year because they will not be able to celebrate it where they want to or with their own families.
The national charity said the combination of a lack of home care supports in the community and restrictions that have been introduced by some nursing home providers has left some older people without a choice about where they would prefer to celebrate Christmas
Sage Advocacy, which provides advocacy and support services to older people, vulnerable adults and healthcare patients, said it has been closely monitoring current arrangements in place in nursing homes and is aware that some nursing home providers are not adhering to HPSC guidance.
However, Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy, said some nursing home providers are not adhering to the guidance and have introduced their own restrictions on visiting.
Ms Lennon said residents have been advised by some nursing home providers not to temporarily leave their nursing home over the Christmas period to spend time with loved ones and family because they may have to isolate for five days on their return and take a Covid-19 test.
Other visiting restrictions in some nursing homes could also mean that some residents may not be to enjoy “meaningful” visits with loved ones when they would choose to, for example on Christmas Day.
Sage Advocacy has said the combination of a lack of available care in the community and the record case numbers of the Omicron Covid-19 variant has contributed to an increase in the number of people who are contacting the national organisation for advocacy and support.
Ms Lennon said: “We know from our advocacy work that older people – both those who live in their own homes and those who live in nursing homes have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
“We’ve seen at first-hand how the lack of connection with loved ones earlier this year, the closure of community-based services such as day centres and the ongoing challenge of accessing home care services has impacted overall on older people.
“Clearly Covid-19 has impacted on all of our communities and our lives. But we need as a country, to recognise that older people have borne the very worst impacts of this pandemic – in terms of the threat to life, to their independence and to their physical and mental health and now at a time of year when family and home is so important, many older people have had the choice about where to celebrate Christmas taken away from them.”
Sage Advocacy said strong political leadership and urgent action is needed to ensure that that the independence and rights of older people are restored.
Ms Lennon said: “We are aware that some nursing home residents and their families are concerned about some nursing home providers who have re-introduced restrictions both on visiting arrangements and on residents who wish to temporarily leave a nursing home.
“We also know that there are some older people who have not been able to return home or been able to stay in their own home because of the lack of available home care support and the result is that many older people have told us that they are now dreading Christmas because they will not be where they want to be this year – either in their own home or with a family member in their home.
“If an older person cannot celebrate Christmas in the place of their choice, then clearly this country is failing them”.