Residents can now have safer contact with named visitors during a COVID-19 outbreak.
New guidance will allow care home residents to choose a friend or relative as a ‘named visitor’ who will be able to visit them, even during a managed Covid-19 outbreak .
This is a change to current practice where most homes suspend routine visiting until outbreaks are over. It will allow those living in care homes to continue to have meaningful contact with loved ones, and balance the need for continuing infection prevention and control measures in care homes with the wider wellbeing of residents.
The change will apply to one named visitor when a care home is in a controlled Covid-19 outbreak, and a guidance note has been issued to support care homes to plan for this in consultation with their local Health Protection team. Revised guidance from Public Health Scotland issued last week has already set out that residents should be able to receive visits from a nominated person even while they are self-isolating as a precaution (i.e. after hospital stays; after being close contacts of a COVID-19 case if fully vaccinated).
Meanwhile Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to introducing ‘Anne’s Law’, to enable people who live in care homes to choose a person or persons to support them in their health and wellbeing, as called for by Care Home Relatives Scotland. A consultation on how best to implement this will be published shortly.
Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care Kevin Stewart said:
“Throughout the pandemic, our overriding priority in care homes has been to safeguard and protect staff and residents from infection – but at times that meant that residents were cut off from their loved ones, which we know has caused anguish and distress for many.
“The proposal for a named visitor will provide continuity of meaningful contact for care home residents in managed COVID-19 outbreak situations, helping to protect residents’ wellbeing in parallel by allowing visiting in a safer way, rather than automatically suspending routine visiting during an outbreak.
“We will further strengthen residents’ rights in adult residential settings through the introduction of ‘Anne’s Law’ and a consultation setting out our aspirations for Anne’s Law and seeking views on how best we might make it work in practice will be published shortly.”
Advice (for residents/family/friends) will shortly be available on NHS inform at www.nhsinform.scot/openwithcare