'Meaningful contact with family and friends is important': Nursing home residents set for two visits per week

'Meaningful contact with family and friends is important': Nursing home residents set for two visits per week

Nursing home residents in Ireland will be able to receive up to two visits a week on compassionate grounds, ministers said. Picture: PA

Nursing home residents in Ireland will be able to receive up to two visits a week on compassionate grounds, ministers said.

This will be possible following two weeks after full vaccination of approximately eight out of 10 of all residents and healthcare workers in the home.

There is no requirement to limit visits to less than one hour under the plan.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and the Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, said: "It is recognised that the necessary public health protective measures, such as the need to reduce social contacts, has effects on social, psychological and emotional wellbeing.

"The availability of vaccines brings great hope and will play a critical role in protecting the population, especially those most at risk such as older people, against Covid-19.

"The advanced stage of the vaccination rollout in nursing homes provides an opportunity for cautious incremental changes in some public health measures, including on visiting."

The new guidance incorporates early learning from the positive impact of the vaccine rollout nationally and internationally and will provide enhanced opportunity for visiting in nursing homes.

To allow time for making arrangements and planning for the implementation, the rule change comes into effect from March 22.

Mr Donnelly said: "While the previous guidance had provided for visiting on critical and compassionate grounds this new guidance now expands the scope of visiting on general compassionate grounds.

"Meaningful contact with family and friends is important at all times which is why these additional grounds will be facilitated.

"Compassionate grounds could be for example to see a family member or friend as prolonged absence is causing upset or for personal reasons, to make financial or other arrangements or to advocate on their behalf."

Ms Butler added it had been an incredibly difficult time for those living in homes.

She said: "The ongoing reduction in Covid-19 cases across the community and the significant progress made in vaccinating the majority of nursing home staff and residents will now result in a loosening of current visiting restrictions.

"Moving forward under levels, three, four and five, residents will be able to receive two visits every week, under compassionate grounds where there is high vaccine coverage in a nursing home."

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