New visiting guidance for care homes in Northern Ireland

People in Northern Ireland will be able to visit loved ones in hospitals and care homes from 6 July, the government announced.

Northern Ireland health Minister Robin Swann said visits would be possible from next week, but added decisions on allowing visitors will now be made on a day to day basis, by the nurse in charge in hospitals, or by the manager in care homes.

Mr Swann added that all visitors to hospitals and care homes are now also required to wear a face covering.

The new guidance includes a number of measures including:

  • In both general wards and intensive care units, one visitor will now be permitted per patient.
  • In Covid-19 free care homes one person will be permitted access to visit at any one time and if necessary a second person if required will be accommodated where possible, as long as this can be carried out safely and under the usual social distancing requirements.
  • Birth partners will be facilitated to accompany women to pregnancy dating scans, anomaly scans, early pregnancy clinic and fetal medicine appointments, for induction of labour, the duration of labour and for birth as well as to visit in antenatal and postnatal wards as appropriate.

Anyone showing or experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 or any other infection should not visit, even if these symptoms are mild and unconfirmed.

The new guidance follows a decision by the Scottish Government to allow care home residents to receive visitors outside from 3 July, provided their home meets strict criteria, with infection control measures remaining in place.

‘I understand that the temporary restrictions on visiting have been a particularly difficult consequence of Covid-19,’ said Mr Swann.

‘However, they were necessary in limiting the spread of the virus. I am acutely aware that there are many families yearning to see a loved one, either in hospital or in our care homes.

‘While today’s announcement will be welcome news, we must remain mindful of the risk of this virus and as such virtual visiting is the preferred option where possible. If this is not possible then social distancing and hand washing remain vital,’ added the minister.

Photo Credit – Veve (Pixabay)

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