Coronavirus in Scotland: New care home visiting guidance will increase indoor contact
The new guidance will aim to “maximise meaningful indoor contact between residents and their loved ones”, the Scottish Government’s director of mental health Donna Bell said in an email to care homes.
Indoor contact between care home residents and family members will be facilitated by lateral flow testing, with kits supplied to care homes by the Scottish Government.
The government recognises that visits by family members are “essential” to wellbeing of care home residents, said Ms Bell, and contribute to their care with social interaction and engagement.
A series of workshops have been organised at care homes to raise awareness of the updated guidance.
Ms Bell said: “We appreciate that this is a journey that providers, staff, families and social care partners need to advance together.
"As such an incremental approach to maximising meaningful contact will be recommended.
"We know that you have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to support continued contact between residents and their loved ones and as such you will understand the drivers behind the new guidance.”
The campaign group Care Home Relatives has been calling for increased care home visiting for several months, but Alison Leitch, a member of the group, raised concerns that without legislation, care homes may choose not to follow the guidance.
A petition created by the group calls for the introduction of a law allowing for one designated visitor to be granted access to care homes.
The proposed change has been nicknamed Anne’s law, in honour of the mother of Natasha Hamilton, who created the petition.
Anne, 63, has dementia. Ms Hamilton’s petition highlights the fears of some family members they may not be able to see their relatives again before they forget who they are.
Asked about the possibility of care home visiting returning during her Covid-19 daily briefing on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon said health secretary Jeane Freeman was looking at the issue “on an ongoing basis”.
“It's important that we don't do that in a way that risks older people in care homes any more than we want to do,” she said.
Ms Sturgeon said vaccines would help “pave the way” for greater visiting allowances, but that more information was needed about its effects on transmission.
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