Revised guidance on COVID-19 Guidance on visits to Long Term Residential Care Facilities published

A revised version of the COVID-19 Guidance on visits to Long Term Residential Care Facilities has been published. This guidance will be implemented as of 4th May 2021.

The guidance is available on the HPSC website.

Important Note on the Managing the Risk of Introduction of COVID-19 into a Long-Term Residential Care Facility (LTRCF)
The surge in COVID-19 in January of 2021 and the resulting harm to residents and staff is a reminder of the ongoing need for vigilance to prevent introduction of COVID-19 into LTRCFs. Although the situation has greatly improved, there is a continuing risk of introduction of infection even with a high level of vaccination. There is a particular concern about the possibility of introducing a new variant against which the vaccine may be less effective.

The vaccination rollout in nursing homes and the associated benefits of the vaccine provides an opportunity for further incremental changes in some public health measures, including on visiting. It may still happen from time to time that it will not be possible to support routine visiting in some LTRCFs because of outbreaks. There is a need for clear communication on these issues with residents and families and in all circumstances, the wishes of residents who wish to see visitors and those who may feel safer not seeing visitors should be respected.

In this context, it is important to draw attention to the following key elements in this document:

  1. Service providers will need to facilitate visiting and ensure that there is sufficient staff on duty at key times to support visiting.
  2. Visiting is subject to a risk assessment.
  3. It is essential that the service providers engage with residents, involve them in decision making and communicate clearly with each resident and relevant others regarding visiting policy including any restrictions, the reasons for those restrictions and the expected duration of restrictions and who they can contact for support if they are dissatisfied.
  4. Service providers should comply with the spirit of the guidance set out below and facilitate visiting of residents as advised within their facilities to the greatest extent possible. Restrictions on visiting that are in excess of those outlined in this guidance (for example in the context of an outbreak) should be agreed with the local public health department, be clearly documented and communicated in engagements with HIQA (along with expected duration of same).
  5. Residents in LTRCFs have the right to have or refuse visitors. 
Last updated on: 04 / 05 / 2021