Irish Hospice Foundation Urges Balance on Level 5  Visiting  Restrictions for  Nursing  Homes & Residential Care Facilities

At Level 5 restrictions, Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) notes the need for a change in current guidance in relation to visiting to nursing homes and other long term residential care facilities (LTRCFs) as per the HSE COVID-19 Guidance on visits to Long Term Residential Care Facilities (LTRCFs). As outlined in the guidance, to ensure the safety of residents and staff, care providers need to limit any critical and compassionate visiting to times when visiting can be effectively supported by available staff and in some cases a risk assessment will be required to ensure visits can proceed.

Sharon Foley, CEO of IHF says, “We appreciate the grave situation facing nursing homes and LTRCFs and the absolute need to protect residents and staff from COVID-19.  However, we also know of the absolute necessity for residents to be in regular contact with their loved ones so that quality of life and dignity is maximised as far as possible. This is even more critical as residents become more vulnerable and are approaching end of life, a phase which can continue for some time. We urge all nursing homes and LTRCF to remember the importance of critical and compassionate visiting and to prioritise these activities for the sake of residents and their families.”

IHF were in direct contact with NPHET in early November, urging them to look at visiting in nursing and care homes. At that time these recommendations were taken on board and more patients and residents in nursing and care facilities had access to more visits with families and loved ones during Level 3 restrictions.

During the first wave of COVID-19, IHF created their Care & Inform guides for staff and families of people in nursing and care facilities. At this time, in particular, care staff may find it useful to provide the following resources for families:

What to do when I can’t visit a loved one who is dying

What to expect when someone you care about is dying in a nursing home

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