The Scottish Government is appealing for ideas to give care home residents the right to have meaningful contact after visiting was banned or significantly restricted during the coronavirus pandemic.
A five-week consultation has been launched to introduce the policy, named after Anne Duke, a resident with dementia in an East Kilbride care home who was cut off from her daughter.
Ministers want to hear about legal and practical considerations to implement the right to visiting, including how legislation would affect the competing rights and needs of others, including other care home residents and staff.
Social care minister Kevin Stewart said: “Social connections and meaningful activity are important for the wellbeing and quality of life of people living in adult care homes.
“For many residents, family members or friends also play a vital role in their care, complementing the support provided by care home staff.
“The Scottish Government is committed to bringing in Anne’s Law to ensure people who live in adult care homes have rights to see and spend time with those who are important to them.
“It is important that we hear views and suggestions on the proposals to achieve this so that we do it in the best possible way.
“We want to hear from as many people as possible to help shape the proposals – including people who live in adult care homes, their families and friends, care home providers and staff and a wide range of other stakeholders.”
Ms Duke’s daughter Natasha Hamilton, who has been campaigning as part of the Care Home Relatives Scotland group, said: “We are very pleased to hear that the consultation for Anne’s Law is getting under way.
“The pandemic has caused great suffering for residents and relatives and has really taken its toll on people’s mental and physical wellbeing.
“We have always believed that even during outbreaks, nominated carers such as husbands, wives, parents, sons and daughters should be enabled to spend time with their loved ones just as staff do.
“We sincerely hope legislation can be enacted that recognises the importance of family life for people in care and the need for personal connection and touch.”