Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has welcomed new Scottish Government guidance for care homes which now recognises the importance of social interaction and indoor visits between residents and family members.
Jackie Baillie has repeatedly called for consideration to be given to resuming indoor visits in care homes. She has stressed the importance of social interaction – including physical touch – and has previously raised concerns about the impact that a lack of interaction is having on the mental health and wellbeing of care home patients.
The new guidance now allows for:
– Extending indoor visits between residents and their designated visitor to up to four hours;
– Extending outdoor visits to up to an hour with up to six visitors from no more than two households, including children and young people;
– Increasing personal interaction, including hugs or hand holding, as long as strict PPE and infection prevention control measures are met;
– Resuming wellbeing activities and visits by professionals.
The guidance also recommends that hairdressers be supported to return to care homes, with safety measures in place.
The guidance has stated that care homes should only resume visiting when they have been free of COVID-19 for 28 days, are participating actively in the care home worker testing programme, and have had their visiting risk assessments approved by the local Director of Public Health (or delegated official).
Unfortunately those areas that face additional restrictions, which includes West Dunbartonshire, will not be able to implement the new guidance yet but it is hoped that they will be able to do so when the restrictions are lifted. In the meantime the new guidance applies to care homes in Helensburgh and Lomond.
Jackie Baillie has also called for family caregivers to be allowed to re-join the care teams for their relatives who are in care homes and supported accommodation settings. She described family caregivers as being “key workers” who played a “vital role” in the care that care home and supported accommodation residents received.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“Allowing family members to hug their loved ones doesn’t sound like much but this contact will go such a long way in providing much needed interaction and a sense of normality.
“Our care homes have truly been at the epicentre of the Covid-19 crisis. Care home staff have been working around the clock in unimaginable circumstances and they have provided a fantastic level of care to their patients.
“Letting families hug their loved ones will be a welcome reward for all those who have had to endure the last seven months in almost total isolation.
“It is vital that local health and social care partnerships, health boards and the Scottish Government give care homes all the support that they need so that they can begin to implement this new guidance quickly and safely.”