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McNamara criticises uses of perspex for visitors in nursing homes

Independent Deputy Michael McNamara plans to raise the use of perspex to screen visitors from patients in residential care facilities with Health Minister Simon Harris.

While Deputy McNamara accepts that precautions have to be taken to minimise the risk of spreading Covid-19 between patients and staff, he is concerned about the use of perspex in nursing home during visiting times.

“You visit people in a prison through perspex. I am very concerned about this. People in nursing homes are not in some kind of prison or some type of a biblical leper colony.

“The idea of seeing you loved ones through a perspex screen is not acceptable. I have no problem in accepting that Covid-19 poses a huge risk of nursing homes and precautions need to be taken.

“As someone who spent a considerable length of time visiting someone very close to me in a nursing home up to quite recently this shocks and appals me,” he said.

Gerry O’Malley of St Senan’s Nursing Home, Kilrush confirmed management have no plans to introduce perspex for visitors as he feels this is unfair to some elderly patients who may have hearing difficulties.

Instead, Mr O’Malley outlined visitors are asked to keep within two metres of a loved one, wear a face mask and undergo a temperature check before they are admitted to the facility.

He said the HSE had not requested the use of perspex but noted every nursing home is different and they have to decide what safety measures they are going to introduce.

“The new visiting rules have worked out well so far. People have conformed and are used to following guidelines now. We don’t know when this virus will end so prevention is better than cure,” he said.

All visitors to St Senan’s must secure a prior booking with the matron and must arrive within a 30 minute slot. In fact, St Senan’s was booked out with visitors from 9 to 4 pm on Monday and Tuesday.

The HSE has issued new guidelines for visitors to a residential care facility with no outbreak of the virus.

Each resident has a maximum of two named visitors and only one can be present at any one time.

Visitors will be asked a series of questions including if they have had the virus or were in close contact with a confirmed case.

Any visitors with fever or respiratory symptoms will not be admitted.
Unplanned visits shall not be facilitated.

Visitors will be required to sign in and out using their own pen and have to have to wash their hands before they enter and leave the premises.

People are advised to only wear gloves or an apron when asked to do so by staff.
Visitors are required to wear a surgical mask if they are not able to maintain social distancing during the visit.

Visits of less then 30 minutes should occur either in the resident’s room if it is a single room, or if there is more than one resident in the room in a room away from other people or in an outdoor area weather permitting where distance can be maintained.

Each visitor is allowed a maximum of one visit per week. No food or refreshments are permitted.
Use of the residents or visitors’ bathroom facilities is discouraged.
Children under 16 are not permitted to visit.
It is permitted to bring a gift or other things a resident may need during the visit.

Visiting will cease if there is an outbreak of Covid-19 but there may be exceptions if a loved one is dying.
For further information visit HSE.ie or call 1850 24 1850

Dan Danaher

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