Nursing home residents and their families want the Government to develop a roadmap to reinstate safe and meaningful indoor visits at nursing homes.
Members of Sage Advocacy’s Nursing Home Residents – Family Forum have told the organisation, that they are “desperately looking forward to real contact” with their loved ones, while others have warned that they feel “time is running out” for them and their loved ones.
Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy, the national organisation, which is a support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients, said it has received a substantial number of calls from residents and families asking if nursing homes will “reopen” to visitors once the vaccine rollout is complete.
Ms Lennon said: “This country’s 30,000 nursing home residents have made enormous sacrifices throughout the pandemic, to the expense of having very limited or no contact at all with their loved ones.
“We know from our work that many nursing home residents welcomed the opportunity to receive a Covid-19 vaccine because they felt it would help them get back to doing what they enjoyed before the pandemic, particularly in relation to seeing their families.
“Now that many nursing home residents have received the second vaccine, residents and their loved ones are contacting us from across the country to ask when they will be able to have safe and meaningful visits again.”
Ms Lennon said that prior to the ban on indoor visiting at nursing homes many family members were actively involved in the essential care of their loved ones.
“What we all have to consider is that nursing home residents and their families have physically spent months apart. The only contact they have had is through a window and in some cases, that we aware of, this has not been facilitated by some nursing homes despite current HSE guidelines which state that outdoor and window visiting is permitted at every level.
“Residents and their families are asking us how much longer they have to endure this physical separation and if there will be a change to visiting guidelines once all nursing home residents and staff, who have chosen to get the vaccine, have received the second dose.
“We are urging the Government to listen to nursing home residents and their families and set out a roadmap to reunite loved ones, particularly for those with neurological conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease who have not been able to take part in virtual visits such as Zoom.
“We know from our work that regular visits by loved ones are hugely important to the ‘‘quality of life’’ of all nursing home residents. People who live in nursing homes have the same right to see their families if they so choose, in a safe manner with strict infection protection and control measures in place, as anyone else living in any other part of the community.”