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Dublin: 17°C Wednesday 17 August 2022

Visits to nursing homes return on 15 June - but with stringent checks for visitors

The lifting of the ban on nursing home visits was announced today.

Nursing homes have been among the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic.
Nursing homes have been among the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic.
Image: Shutterstock

VISITING OF NURSING homes will be able to take place under certain conditions from 15 June, as Ireland enters Phase Two of the easing of restrictions. 

At the Department of Health press briefing this evening, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan said that the National Public Health Emergency Team had been “sensitive” to the isolation experienced by residents and the pain experienced by families.

As things stand, the guidance remains that there is a blanket ban on visiting nursing homes. 

“Even though it was one of the Phase Three measures, we think the conditions are right for us to bring that forward,” Holohan said. 

Guidance, published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, states that all visits to nursing homes – many of which are privately operated – are “at the discretion” of management and “it is their responsibility to ensure that visitations do not compromise overall resident care or adherence to requisite infection control procedures”. 

“Restrictions to visiting are aimed at protecting residents, staff and visitors from exposure to Covid-19,” the guidance states. 

The guidance includes recommendations that each resident has a maximum of two named visitors, with only one visitor allowed to be present at any one time. 

Visits will also have to be scheduled to avoid “heavy footfall”. 

Visitors will also be asked if they have Covid-19 or had close contact with a confirmed case. 

“Visitors should declare that they have no symptoms and undergo a temperature check before being permitted to enter,” the guidance notes. 

“Nursing homes will have to put in place those arrangements, so we’re moving from the current situation where there is a blanket recommendation across the country for this visitation not to happen, to a situation in which there is specific guidance that provides for how it can happen in a safe way,” Holohan said. 

He said that the extra week will allow nursing homes to implement the correct procedures for visitors. 

Nursing homes have been one of the worst-hit areas of the Covid-19 outbreak in Ireland, with questions asked about the adequacy of the government’s response. 

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There are currently over 250 clusters of Covid-19 in nursing homes across the country

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