Visits to nursing homes should be possible during a Covid-19 outbreak in the facility, according to the latest advice from the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
The updated guide on visits to residential care facilities stresses the importance of visits for residents and highlights the lack of evidence that managed visiting is associated with major risks.
The limit on the number of nominated visitors to two is removed and there is also some flexibility around the number of visitors a resident can have at one time.
Also, the one-hour limit has been changed and some visits by children will be facilitated if they are accompanied by an adult who takes responsibility for ensuring appropriate conduct.
Where there is an outbreak of Covid-19, visits will be facilitated but controls will be applied to limit the spread of infection.
The visiting guidance recognises the autonomy of residents to have visitors and contact family members.
However, the person in charge has to ensure that the residents’ right to have visitors is balanced with the need to ensure that care or infection control procedures are not compromised.
Indoor visits should be encouraged and normalised as soon as practical. However, outdoor visits should also be encouraged because they carry a lower risk.
-there is no need to limit the number of nominated visitors but they should generally be limited to two per resident at a time;
-outings for a drive with a visitor may be facilitated subject to a risk assessment and confirmation that the visitor does not have symptoms of Covid-19 and is not a Covid-19 contact;
-visits by a child may be facilitated if the child is accompanied by a responsible adult;
-during an outbreak of Covid-19 in a residential care facility visits generally will be suspended in the first instance but an exception will be made for residents at the end of life;
-when the situation is evaluated and control measures in place, family and friends should be advised that essential visits will be facilitated but general visiting will be limited;
-residential care facilities have a right to decline visitors during an outbreak but every effort should be made to support them.