Scotland is set to resume routine visiting of care residents by relatives, friends and carers, starting early March. Residents will be allowed to be visited by two designated visitors, with one visit/per week for each visitor. Guidelines supporting care providers for the same will be published on Wednesday 24 February 2021.
The decision to resume visits was made based on a wide range of protections now in place, the most important being COVID-19 vaccination. The vaccination coverage has been exceptional, with more than 99.9 per cent of residents and 92 per cent of the staff having received their first dose to date. Furthermore, deaths from COVID-19 in residents has declined substantially in the last three weeks, and the incidence of COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes has also come down.
Visitors will be required to wear face coverings and any personal protective equipment as deemed appropriate by the care home, and are strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 test on-site. Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman said: “We must remain vigilant about the risks but with multiple layers of protection now in place the balance is in favour of allowing visits. Everyone, including visitors, has a responsibility to ensure that visits take place as safely as possible by continuing to follow safety advice.”
The frequency and duration of visits could be slowly increased in the future, subject to prevailing conditions.
Cathie Russell of Care Home Relatives Scotland welcomed the decision stating: “We look forward to working with care home providers, public health and oversight teams to ensure that the new guidance allows residents to enjoy meaningful contact with their closest relatives and friends once more.”