Yesterday in the Scottish Parliament the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman, discussed the topic of relatives visiting their loved ones in care homes and how the Scottish Government are taking steps to make this more accessible. The response came as Ms Freeman was challenged on the topic of relatives having difficulty accessing their elderly relatives in care homes.
Ms Freeman highlighted that 40% of care homes in Scotland already meet the criteria for indoor visiting. To meet this criteria, the care home must be free of Covid-19 cases for 28 days, and the home must also take part in a staff testing programme.
She also highlighted that many care homes have stopped visiting in light of the recent Scottish Government guidelines on not meeting indoors, but it was emphasised that this should not be the case and that care home visits should continue. The Health Secretary noted that she would be contacting care homes to ensure they understood that where it has been deemed safe to have visits, then they should continue to have them at this time.
MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, commented:
“I know that many people in my constituency have struggled with restrictions which have meant that visits to loved ones in care homes have not been possible, so I am glad that the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport has directly addressed this topic in the Scottish Parliament Chamber.
“I am pleased that the Cabinet Secretary has made it clear that the new Scottish Government guidance does not mean that there will be a stop to care home visiting, and that those in care homes can continue to have visits from their loved ones.
“It is important that those who are in care homes do not feel like they are isolated from their families, and I hope that these discussions make it clear that the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring visits can continue where it is safe for these to occur. I am glad that the Health Secretary has also indicated that they are looking at how to increase the frequency and length of visits, and I welcome the discussions that are being had around this, as well as talks about allowing outdoor visits with those in homes.
“The recent guidance which has been announced by the Scottish Government will help us maintain freedoms such as visiting those in care homes. These restrictions are put in place to help lower the rates of cases, and to allow us to continue to have the ability to visit our care homes safely.
“We all need to accept our individual responsibility to keep others safe, by following guidance that means we should not be visiting other households at this time, and by continuing to wash our hands regularly, and social distance from others. We need to do all that we can to protect our loved ones.
“I do not underestimate the difficulties experienced by those in care homes and their relatives over the last few months, and I hope these discussions provide hope and comfort to them.”