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NPHET to recommend nursing home residents should have no more than 4 nominated visitors

NPHET discussed the issue of visitation in nursing homes and residential care facilities at its meeting today.

Image: Shutterstock/evrymmnt

THE NATIONAL PUBLIC Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is to recommend that nursing home residents should have no more than four nominated visitors for the next three weeks.

Speaking at this evening’s press briefing at the Department of Health, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said NPHET discussed the issue of visitation in nursing homes and residential care facilities at its meeting earlier today. 

“We’ll be making some small changes to the restrictions around those facilities over the coming days and we’ll provide more detail on that,” Dr Glynn said. 

Dr Glynn explained that at present, a resident can have any number of nominated visitors. 

“The key change in that is, in line with our wider guidance to society, to limit your network, and in line specifically to our guidance to people who are older or people who have medical vulnerabilities, to reduce down their network,” Dr Glynn said. 

He said “there will be guidance coming which recommends that no one resident should have more than four nominated visitors”.

“That’s four nominated visitors for multiple visits, but four nominated visitors as the total size of the network, just for the next three weeks,” he said. 

Nursing home report

A 200-page report published yesterday by the Nursing Home Expert Panel, which looks at how nursing homes responded to the Covid-19 crisis, offered a series of wide-ranging recommendations about how the system needs to change to cope with any similar issues in the future. 

Launching the report, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that the government would be looking carefully at the recommendations but acknowledged that the care of older people needs “systemic reform”. 

This report, he said, should be a key foundation for that reform. 

Donnelly didn’t commit the government to implementing all the recommendations of the report, admitting that some of it would be a challenge. 

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However, he said that there were things – such as testing and infection control – that were either already in place or could be introduced immediately. 

An implementation group for the report will be established next week, but Donnelly also said that some of the more ambitious measures were matters for the government to discuss. 

“One of the things Covid-19 is doing, it is shining a light on the weaknesses in our society. We are seeing outbreaks in nursing homes, we are seeing outbreaks in congregated settings, we are seeing outbreaks in Direct Provision. We’re seeing outbreaks in workplaces where people are not paid a lot of money,” Donnelly said. 

Prof Cecily Kelleher, who led the review of nursing homes, stressed the need for “systematic reform” in the care of older people. 

“Many of the the people infected in this were the citizens and taxpayers who helped to create this State. We owe it to them now to have a healthcare system that is entirely fit for the 21st century.”

With reporting by Dominic McGrath

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