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Nursing home residents allowed two visits per week from 22 March

There will be no requirement to limit these visits to under an hour.

Image: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

PEOPLE IN NURSING homes will be permitted two visits per week from 22 March if approximately 80% of residents and staff have been vaccinated against Covid-19. 

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) today approved the new visiting guidance today for visits to long-term residential care facilities. 

In a statement, the Department of Health said the “advanced stage of the vaccination rollout in nursing homes” has allowed for “cautious” changes around visitations.

Until now, residents were allowed one visit every two weeks. 

The guidance already in place allowed for visiting on critical and compassionate grounds at the moment. The new guidance will expand the scope of visiting on general compassionate grounds. 

The guidance says the visits are possible two weeks after full vaccination of around 80% of residents and healthcare workers in the nursing home.

The department said there is no requirement to limit these visits to under an hour. 

It provides for increased visiting at levels 3-5 “subject to risk assessment and no open outbreak”. 

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said: “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.”

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Minister of State for  Older People Mary Butler said she hopes the new guidance will be “widely welcomed”.

“We all need to remain vigilant, and continue to follow public health advice, including when visiting, to reduce the spread of COVID and protect those living in our communities,” she said in a statement. 

“It signifies a big step forward in providing opportunities for people living in nursing homes and their families to meet much more frequently. I expect that all nursing home providers will facilitate visiting, in line with the new guidance announced today.”

The specific critical and compassionate circumstances includes a resident expressing a “strong sense of need to see someone whether for personal reasons, to make financial or other arrangements or to advocate on their behalf”.

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