Health Minister Robin Swann has again underlined the importance of safely managed visits for care home residents at Christmastime, whilst acknowledging that the current situation and the Executive’s announcement of additional public health protective measures and restrictions will have implications for visits to care homes over the Christmas period.
Last week, the Minister set out the range of measures in place to support and encourage responsible visiting in a strictly controlled fashion.
The measures were also detailed in a joint letter to the care home sector which was issued last week by Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle, Chief Social Work Officer Sean Holland and Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride.
They include, as an additional assurance, Covid-19 testing being made available to one visitor or care partner per care home resident per week over the Christmas period and up to Friday 8 January 2021.
The testing will be bookable at existing testing facilities, using the established PCR tests.
The Health Minister said: “Time together with loved ones is very important at this time of year, particularly for people who may be in the final chapters of their lives.
“The continuing serious risk from the virus must be balanced against the potentially devastating impact of isolation and loneliness on physical and mental well-being.
“Visiting guidelines are kept under continuous review, taking into account key factors including the prevalence of the virus in the community. This means that whilst responsible Christmastime visiting can be facilitated, we do have to consider the new knowledge and available evidence about the virus and respond accordingly in a way that provides for the protection that care home residents need and deserve. In response to the additional public health protective measures, guidance for visiting care homes has been updated and further details can be found on the Department website."
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