Kenneth Gibson MSP has welcomed new guidelines clarifying that people in care homes should be able to see friends and family without restrictions such as limits on how often visits can take place or on how many different visitors a person can have.
Booking systems for families should only be required when a home is managing a COVID-19 outbreak. Where there is an outbreak, residents should still be supported to see one of their three named visitors.
To reinforce the guidance, the Care Inspectorate will receive an additional £276,000 to support visiting rights, including dedicated resources for care homes.
Minister for Social Care Kevin Stewart met staff, residents and relatives at the Erskine Park Home in Bishopton to see how easing restrictions has made it easier for residents to have contact with loved ones, both in and out of the home and said:
“The restrictions on visiting introduced early on in the pandemic were necessary to protect staff and residents and curb viral spread, but I am under no illusions as to just how difficult and painful it has been for staff, residents and their loved ones.
“We are pleased to be in the position to move to a ‘new normal’, with the latest Open with Care guidance setting out much less restrictive measures in care homes.
“As we move towards seeing visiting rights embedded in legislation through Anne’s Law, our recent strengthening of rights within the Health and Social Care standards means the right to visit loved ones is already in place. £276,000 of additional funding to the Care Inspectorate to further its work supporting care homes to return to normal and protect visiting rights.
“I am very pleased to be here to thank the staff and hear from them, the residents and their loved ones about how they have managed over the last two years and the difference that it is making now we have been able to open up care homes more.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“For residents who live in a care home, having contact with loved ones in what is fundamentally their own home is essential for good mental health and wellbeing, so these guidelines are very welcome.
“I know that only too well from witnessing the deterioration in my own mother’s wellbeing during the isolation lockdown imposed in her own care home. This was despite the best efforts of an attentive and hard-working care staff who I thank for their dedication, commitment and professionalism in supporting my mother and thousands like her through the most challenging of circumstances.”
Erskine Director of Care Derek Barron said:
“Care homes have been at the forefront of the country’s provision of excellent care to our most vulnerable citizens during the pandemic. The Minister is the first to have ‘social care’ in his job title. His visit helps to underline the integral part we play in delivering health and social care.
“We were very pleased that the Minister chose to visit Erskine for his announcement. He took the opportunity to meet our amazing staff, who have worked quietly and relentlessly through the pandemic. They not only delivered compassionate and quality care; they fundraised to support that care - whilst adapting the charity and its services to the economic, demographic and policy changes, which we anticipate.”
Edith Macintosh, interim Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate, commented:
“The release of today’s revised guidance highlights the importance of people experiencing care having face-to-face contact with their loved ones and provides the framework to support them to do so.
“We welcome the additional funding for the Care Inspectorate to support the implementation of this guidance and to support visiting.
“I want to also thank our care services for the professional job they have carried out in exceptional and unprecedented circumstances with such commitment during the pandemic and their hard work and dedication in restoring the service as we return to normality.”