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New HSE/HPSC guidance on visiting nursing homes, from February 8, that will give residents the opportunity to spend more time and have meaningful relationships with loved ones, is a very welcome development, Sage Advocacy has said.

The national organisation -which provides advocacy and support services to older people, adults who may be vulnerable and healthcare patients, had previously warned that older people and vulnerable adults who live in residential care facilities should not be left behind as Covid-19 public health restrictions were relaxed.

Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy, said the new guidance – which comes into effect on February 8 – must ensure that nursing home residents who have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, also benefit from the general easing of restrictions on social activity.

The HSE guidance - COVID-19: Normalising Access in Long Term Residential Care Facilities (see: Normalising visiting in LTRCF.pdf (hpsc.ie) outlines that from

February 8:

  • each resident “should have the opportunity to identify one nominated support person. The nominated support person should normally have unrestricted access to the resident for most of the day.”
  • a nominated support person is in addition to and not instead of visitors.
  • the minimum level of visiting should normally be daily visits by up to 2 people at one time
  • even in a Covid-19 outbreak a minimum level of visiting must be facilitated.


Ms Lennon has urged nursing home providers to adhere to HSE guidance on visiting.

Ms Lennon said: “We know from our advocacy work that while many nursing homes followed the guidance some nursing home providers have at times introduced their own restrictions on visiting and have not adhered to current HSE guidance on visiting. This has caused significant distress and upset to residents and their loved ones

“We also know from our work that meaningful, safe visits are hugely important to the well-being and mental health of both nursing home residents and their loved ones and that without visits and the connection to loved ones that residents have really suffered throughout the pandemic.

“It is crucially important that nursing home providers continue to manage the ongoing risk of infection from Covid-19 while protecting and respecting the rights of residents to maintain meaningful relationships with people who are important to them.”

Ms Lennon said members of Sage Advocacy’s Nursing Home Residents – Family Forum have reported that some nursing home providers have not enabled residents to have visits with loved ones because they are concerned about the high rate of Covid-19 cases in their local community.

Ms Lennon said: “Sage Advocacy is urging nursing home providers to ensure that a resident’s right to meaningful contact is respected in line with regulatory obligations.

“Everyone who lives in a nursing home has the right to have or refuse visitors and to leave a nursing home”.


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