New guidance issued by the HSE which sets out a timetable for “normalising visiting” at nursing homes and residential care facilities must be adhered to by nursing home providers, in line with public health guidance, Sage Advocacy has said.
The national organisation, which supports and advocates for vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients, said visits by family and friends is one of the most important aspects of daily life for nursing home residents and is vitally important for residents’ health, well being and quality of life.
Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy, said: “These latest guidelines, which will come into effect on July 19, mark a vitally important step towards a more regular daily life for this country’s estimated 32,000 nursing home residents and their families.
“As the country moves towards a further relaxation of restrictions it is important that we do not leave the thousands of people who live in nursing homes behind. However, we completely understand the need to remain constantly cautious in relation to Covid-19 and particular because of the current Delta variant. We are told that the high level of vaccination in place in nursing homes is a floodwall and is holding tight”.
The latest HSE guidance Normalising visiting in LTRCF.pdf (hpsc.ie) outlines that residential care providers should “put in place the necessary measures to progress to more normalised visiting and visiting frequency as quickly as possible in line with public health guidance”.
But the HSE also warns that the guidance will be kept under continuing review as it continues to deal “with the evolving risks associated with COVID-19.”
Ms Lennon said there are several important steps towards re-instating more normal visiting arrangements outlined in the latest guidance including:
Ms Lennon added: “It is encouraging that children may now visit without any reference to age. We know that some nursing home residents have family they have never met.
“Throughout the pandemic we have provided support and advocacy services to nursing home residents and their families through our Nursing Home Residents – Family Forum and visiting has consistently been one of the key issues that families and nursing home residents have contacted us about.
“Nursing home providers now have a responsibility, under the latest HSE guidance,to restore normal visiting rights to nursing home residents as quickly and as completely, as is practical in line with public health guidance.
“We are very aware that some people have continued to experience issues in relation to visiting nursing homes, some have shared their concerns with us about how some nursing home providers have interpreted the HPSC guidance previously and it is vitally important that normalised visiting is delivered on the ground by nursing home providers from July 19.
“Sage Advocacy wants to hear from nursing home residents and their families if they experience any issues in relation to visiting and this latest HSE guidance and our team of advocates across the country can provide tailored advice and support to anyone who faces difficulties.”