‘Find a way’ to relax care home visiting rules, Robin Swann told
Health Minister Robin Swann has been urged to “find a way” to allow more family members to visit their loved ones in care homes.
Last month, the Older People’s Commissioner Eddie Lynch expressed concern about “possible human rights breaches” due to care home residents being kept away from their families and friends by restrictions on visiting.
DUP MP Carla Lockhart has written to Mr Swann to request a new assessment of the rules around visits.
Currently one nominated individual can visit a resident indoors, with other visits to be held outdoors, or in pods.
Mrs Lockhart said that the success of the vaccination programme means that should be widened out.
“Our care home residents have been so significantly impacted by the restrictions on visitation over the last year,” she said.
“I have had many personal accounts relayed to me of the loneliness, depression, and decline in overall health of residents that family link to the lack of close contact visitation.”
The DUP MP continued: “Now with the vaccine programme being so successful and the reduction in cases, I would urge the health minister to work with local care home providers to find a way to allow even greater close contact visitation for families.
“Currently one nominated member can visit a resident indoors. That is a very tough situation for any family, with all members desperate to once again have the more personal visit to loved ones but only one allowed.
“I am urging the minister, Robin Swann, to urgently reassess the rules around care home visits. I have for some time been urging a more compassionate approach on this issue. We need to continue to make progress in allowing a greater degree of normality for care home residents, particularly as such a high percentage now have both their vaccines.
“Families, and care home residents, have had over a year of detachment. This now needs corrected and that support, love and care allowed with more family members.”
Meanwhile, the UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme hit the milestone of delivering second jabs to a quarter of the adult population.
The Department of Health and Social Care said that health services across the UK have now administered a total of 47,045,391 vaccines, including 13,201,811 second doses.
In Northern Ireland, the latest figures from Mr Swann’s department shows a total of 1,275,695 vaccines, including 356,403 second doses.