Welcome for revision of care home curbs

The need to keep physically safe during the coronavirus pandemic comes at an emotional cost. The price some pay is very high indeed.

Monday, 5th October 2020, 7:00 am

Vulnerable residents of care homes have had an especially difficult time. Separated from their families for months, they have been deprived the simple comforts of holding hands with and hugging a loved one. Yes, we all understand the need to protect the frail and elderly from a virus which has killed so many senior citizens but we must balance that with the need to combat loneliness and allay their fears.

And so The Scotsman is pleased to learn that plans are afoot to revise the restrictions under which care home residents currently live.

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After meeting with representatives of residents, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman is preparing new regulations which will strike a more compassionate balance between suppressing the virus and allowing the elderly and infirm to maintain contact with their families.

We know from the devastating experience of the first coronavirus wave that the elderly are especially vulnerable to this illness. A decision to send people into care homes after they had contracted coronavirus had the most disastrous effect, with the virus swiftly spreading and claiming a great many lives.

But it is quite clear from the experiences of families across the country that restrictions have had a dreadful impact on the quality of life of many who live in residential care homes.

Of course, any loosening on current restrictions must be done with great care. It would be beyond reckless to simply throw open the doors of care homes. But new rules – such as a need for a home to have been coronavirus-free for a minimum of 28 days – should ensure that safety is maintained.

We all face some challenging months ahead. After a long period of lockdown saw the number of cases and – crucially – the number of deaths fall, the coronavirus infection rate is on the rise again. Naturally, this will concentrate the minds of the most vulnerable in society and those care for them.

But, counterintuitive though it may seem, it is essential that we find a way – as safely as possible – to reunite families kept apart by this damnable virus.

In normal times we take for granted our ability to hug a loved one. In these troubling days we must do all we can to preserve that simple act of comfort.

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