Minister for Mental Health and Older People welcomes updated Visitation Guidance for Nursing Homes

Published on: 23 April 2021

Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, TD, has welcomed the approval by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) of revised Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) COVID-19 Guidance on visitations to Long Term Residential Care Facilities. The new guidance will come into effect on 4th May.

Residents may now be facilitated to receive four visits per week. This will be possible following two weeks after the full vaccination of approximately 8 out of 10 of all residents in the nursing home. Otherwise, two visits per week should be facilitated.  The duration of visits should be appropriate to the needs of the resident and should not be less than one hour. Where there is high vaccine coverage, 2 people may visit at a time but there is no requirement to limit the number of nominated visitors.

The increased level of visiting provided for under the new guidance follows the move to two visits per week announced last month. The revised visitation guidance continues to build on learning from the positive impact of the vaccine rollout nationally and internationally and will provide a further easing of visiting restrictions as we continue to see huge benefits from the vaccine roll out across the community.

Welcoming the new guidance, Minister Butler said: “There is no doubt that the last 14 months have been incredibly difficult and challenging for nursing home staff, residents and their families and the sacrifices made have been enormous. I would like to acknowledge and thank nursing home staff for their tireless efforts and hard work in keeping people as safe as possible.

“I understand that, for some, there may be apprehension about an increase in visiting, given the considerable challenges posed since the arrival of the pandemic. However, a balance must be struck between protecting residents and staff from the risk of COVID-19, and individual’s rights to visits from family and friends. Visiting, social connections and meaningful contacts are an inherent part of the wellbeing of residents and of the quality of care provided. With the benefit of the vaccine, regular visiting is now moving away from general and compassionate circumstances only, towards a more normalised situation.

“The implementation of the new guidance from 4th May will allow time for nursing home service providers to communicate with families, book visits and prepare for additional visiting. I expect that all nursing home providers will facilitate visiting, to the greatest extent possible, in line with the new guidance announced today”.