Health Minister announces updated guidance to increase visiting in NI care settings

New guidance that will facilitate increased visiting in care settings is being finalised, Health Minister Robin Swann has announced.

The new guidance is being updated for visiting hospitals, hospices & care homes and is expected to be published imminently to allow preparations to be made in care settings for new arrangements taking effect from next week.

The Health Minister said: “I fully recognise the desire for more visiting. Receiving a face-to-face visit from a loved one is so important to people who are unwell, elderly or vulnerable. Of course, we also have to remain vigilant about the continuing threat from the virus and strike the right balance.”

The new guidance will include a new approach to supporting safe and proportionate increased visiting in care homes. This will include updated arrangements for the safe management of care home residents receiving visitors, as well as residents being able to visit other households and community facilities and take part in excursions.

The Public Health Agency is leading the development of this new guidance, using a co-production approach by working with representatives from the statutory sector, representatives from various relatives’ groups and independent healthcare providers.

In addition, new guidance is being finalised by the Department of Health for visiting in hospices and hospitals – including Maternity and other services. This is in the final stages of a rapid consultation with stakeholders and will see a phased approach to the easing of restrictions to allow the careful monitoring of the outcome.

Picture (c) Aaron Chown / PA.