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Care home restrictions to be relaxed

Aerial view of Braeburn Care Home and sheltered housing, St. Margarets Hope – Tom O’Brien

Family and friends of those in care homes will soon be allowed longer visits and further personal interaction.

Jeane Freeman, Scottish health secretary, has announced updated guidance from the Scottish Government that recommends easing restrictions on visiting in a number of ways.  

Indoor visits are recommended to increase from 30 minutes to up to four hours, and outdoor visits can be extended to to include six visitors from a maximum of two households (including children) for up to one hour per visit. 

A return to increased personal interaction, such as and hugs hand-holding, is also supported by the new guidance, provided that proper PPE and infection prevention measures are followed. 

These include:

  • Personal interaction – visitors can support personal care and daily routine activities, provided this is agreed with the care home and takes place in residents’ rooms.
  • Touch – enabling contact with loved ones with regular training and supervision for visitors to put on and take off PPE and safety guidelines.
  • Family pets and therapy animals – during outdoor and indoor visiting, if agreed with the care home, and certain pre-conditions are met.
  • Gifts and residents’ belongings – can be brought in by visitors, when agreed with the care home manager in advance.

The proposed changes are said to require careful planning by care homes, and will be implemented once said care homes are satisfied they can be safely accommodated. 

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We know how difficult visiting restrictions have been, and it is only natural after six months of lockdown restrictions, that care home residents and their loved ones will want to see and interact with each other as much as possible.

“The Scottish Government has been actively working with Scottish Care and other care home stakeholders on a staged approach to re-introduce visiting in care homes in as safe a way as possible, while COVID-19 remains in Scotland.

“This latest guidance has been developed with input from family members, carers, and clinicians to offer greater flexibility in visiting arrangements, and indoor visiting in particular, as winter approaches. 

“We will continue to actively consider how we can best support visiting in care homes, and protect those who are at most risk from this virus.”

 

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