'It's nuts': Relatives call on Scottish Government to review care home guidance which 'doesn't make sense'

Relatives of people in care homes have called on the Scottish Government to review its visiting guidance, which they say has become outdated and “does not make sense”.

The Scottish Government issued guidance in February, which allows each care home resident one visit a week from two designated visitors.

But the campaign group Care Home Relatives wants to see this extended, as restrictions ease in other parts of society.

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They also say some particular aspects of the guidance have become outdated and don’t make sense, such as the ban on visitors eating and drinking, and children and young people not being allowed to visit indoors.

Cathie Russell and her mother Rose, 89.

Cathie Russell, a member of Care Home Relatives from Glasgow whose mother Rose lives in a care home, said the group had a “positive” meeting last week with health secretary Humza Yousaf and minister for social care Kevin Stewart.

But she added: “We’ve not had any progress yet.”

She said: “We made Humza Yousaf and Kevin Stewart aware of our concerns about a whole range of things.

“When we visit a care home, we can’t have a cup of tea with our relatives according to the guidance and yet we can take them out to a cafe or a pub.

Cathie Russell and her mother Rose, 89.

“In a cafe or a pub there are going to be people who are not tested, who are not vaccinated.

"In a care home, we [visitors] are tested, and our relatives are double vaccinated, but we can’t have a cup of tea just two of us sitting in the same room.

“That’s not allowed, it’s totally illogical.”

Sheila Hall, another member of the group, said: “If I meet my mum in the garden of her care home I have to wear a mask, and yet I can take her to a cafe. It’s just nuts. None of it makes sense.”

The care home relatives group protested outside the Scottish Parliament in September calling for changes to visiting rules.The group says families have still not all been assured they will be able to see loved ones.

Ms Russell also pointed out that Scottish Government guidance does not advise children and young people should be allowed to visit indoors, while some homes do not even allow them outside.

Care Home Relatives has campaigned for residents to be allowed to operate fans in their own rooms during the summer heat.

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"Our argument is that as long as they're in their own room, why can’t they have a fan on?” said Ms Russell.

"They’re not moving air about in the home generally, only in their own room.

"We can’t really understand why there’s this total blanket ban on using a fan in order to make someone who is very hot more comfortable.

“Care homes don’t have much in the way of opening windows, because of the security risk, so it tends to be you can only open the windows an inch or two.”

Social care minister Kevin Stewart said decisions were taken in the context of the local situation.

“We know how important it is for care home residents to meet with loved ones and our guidance is clear the frequency and duration of meaningful contact should be maximised where possible,” he said.

"We are still living with the pandemic and decisions on visits are taken by care homes within the context of local circumstances.

"Care homes can access advice and support from local oversight partners when considering relaxations to visits to ensure everything is safe and suitable for all.”

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