‘Distressing and harmful’ Covid isolations cut for care home residents

The limit on the number of households allowed to visit their loved ones has also been dropped.

‘Distressing and harmful’ Covid isolations cut for care home residents Getty Images
The lengthy isolation times have been described as "distressing and harmful".

Longer isolation periods and limits on visiting for care home residents have been eased under new guidance from the Scottish Government.

While Covid restrictions have eased for the general public, those living in homes have still had tougher rules designed to limit the spread of the virus.

Even if they had a negative PCR test, people transferring from hospitals to care homes were made to isolate.

Positive cases and their close contacts have also been isolating for the full 14-day period, rather than the reduced time for everyone else in Scotland.

The lengthy isolation times have been described as “distressing and harmful”.

But on Thursday, the Scottish Government announced an easing of the rules for care home residents, including allowing more visitors.

Those coming from hospital will no longer need to isolate if they have a negative PCR in the previous 48 hours, have no respiratory virus symptoms and have not been exposed to Covid-19 in the previous two weeks.

The isolation period for positive cases and close contacts is also being cut to ten days, bringing it closer to the rules for the general public.

Residents who have been in hospital for acute overnight stays will also no longer need to isolate, and will not need a negative PCR test, provided there is no clinical reason to think that they have Covid.

Guidance also recommends there should be no set limits to the number of households visiting their loved ones.

The Government said the changes were made in line with public health advice, recognising high levels of vaccination in homes and the need to balance the harms caused by long periods of self-isolating.

It comes after warnings the social care sector is “buckling” under the strain of staff absences.

Scottish health secretary Humza Yousaf told STV News National Health Service staff could be redeployed to help tackle pressure in the social care system amid increasing workforce absences.

Audit Scotland has warned of shortages in the social care workforce amid a failure in leadership from the Government.

Social care minister Kevin Stewart said: “We know isolating for longer time periods can be distressing and harmful for care home residents and for their loved ones.

“Reducing the length of time care home residents have to isolate if they catch Covid, or are identified as close contacts, reflects the ongoing risks facing people who live communally, in a homely environment with other care home residents, many of whom have long term conditions.”

Stewart said it was important for care homes to support indoor visiting after Nicola Sturgeon advised lifting limitations on households meeting indoors.

“Care homes will determine group sizes and numbers taking into account the size of the visiting area and other factors,” he said.

 “As before there should be no restrictions placed on frequency and duration of visiting which will guided by care home arrangements and circumstances.”