Calls to cut ‘barbaric’ care home isolation period to seven days

Current isolation rules mean residents are confined to their rooms for 14 days, twice as long as the rest of the country.

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The Scottish Government is being urged to halve the Covid self isolation period from 14 days to seven for care home residents. 

Current isolation rules have been deemed “barbaric and damaging” by relatives and care providers, which see residents confined to their rooms for 14 days – twice as long as the rest of the population.

They are calling for the rules to be brought in line with changes made for the general public last week. 

Dr Jane Douglas from Scottish Care told STV News: “It’s important we do look at this to see if we can reduce the time.

“We have to know what the risks are and obviously people will be cautious because of what happened previously.”

Care home residents were badly affected during the first and second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with almost a third of all Covid-deaths to date occuring in care homes.

Last week Scotland cut the self isolation period for people testing positive for Covid from ten days to seven, as long as two negative lateral flow tests can be produced.

“Yes care homes were hit hard at the beginning, but we’re not where we were, we have all these protections in place,” said Alison Leitch from Care Home relatives. 

The group advocates for better care home visiting rights and has more than 2000 members.

“The isolation policy is too damaging, we’re hearing of people being locked in rooms for 14 days or more with no stimulation, no company just left alone. 

“Many residents spent Christmas Day by themselves. People are losing the ability to walk because of these rules, it’s just barbaric.”

Around 24% of care homes are currently dealing with a case of coronavirus, but the number of Covid-related deaths remains small. 

Relatives are concerned rising case numbers are causing care homes to lockdown and shut out relatives from visiting.

“It feels like we’re back at square one,” says Alison.

Brian Murray from Abbey Court care home is just one of many care providers who are backing calls for visiting to continue and self isolation to be reduced.

“I think at the moment 14 days is a bit much, I remember back to last year when it was 28 days for residents and 14 for everyone else,” Brian told STV News.

“We made the decision early on not to forcibly put people in their rooms, with some people it’s impossible, they don’t know what’s happening or why they’re behind a closed door. 

“It’s up to us to make sure the whole place is safe.”

Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Social Care said: “Our overriding priority throughout the pandemic has been to safeguard and protect staff and residents of care homes.

“The measures that are currently in place ensure loved ones can have meaningful contact with residents while balancing the Covid-19 risk and the need to keep people safe in line with clinical and public health advice especially with the emergence of the Omicron variant.

“The Scottish Government, given the recent changes to isolation announced by the First Minister, had already commissioned public health experts to review the guidelines that are currently in place.”