Care home visit rules relaxed with hand-holding allowed

Number of outdoor visitors permitted extended while indoor visits of up to four hours will be allowed.

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Rules on visiting relatives in Scottish care homes have been relaxed, including allowing physical touch such as hand-holding.

Previously, just one person was able to visit a care home resident, but now up to six people from two households can pay visits outdoors.

Indoor visits will remain restricted to one person but will be extended from 30 minutes to a maximum of four hours.

Furthermore, visitors can touch their relatives, such as by holding hands with them, provided hygiene measures are strictly followed.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman announced the changes at Monday’s coronavirus briefing.

Outdoor visits can last up to an hour, she told the briefing, and the six-person limit includes children.

Visitors can also bring some types of gifts for residents as well as any belongings they need.

Care homes must be Covid-free for 28 days and their workforce undergoing routine testing for residents to enjoy the relaxed measures.

Freeman said the new arrangements had been made in consultation with the care sector and with the families of care home residents.

She said striking the right “balance of safety with the need for family and visitor contact” had been difficult.

Freeman said: “Having spoken to care home relatives, I know how much they appreciate and will comply with these infection prevention measures, precisely because of the love they have for their family member.”

The health secretary added she hoped the relaxation of measures would provide an “opportunity for greater and more meaningful contact” between relatives and care home residents.