Care group accused of ignoring COVID-19 visitor guidelines

Balhousie Wheatlands

Balhousie Care Group has been accused of ignoring government visitor guidelines when it opens its doors again this week.

The Perthshire based company is limiting the number of visits per resident to one week from one visitor when it resumes visiting on 4 March with physical contact prohibited.

Government guidance published last week recommends up to two visits from two visitors at separate times per week.

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Cathie Russell, of Care Home Relatives Scotland, told the Scottish Daily Record: “You have to ­wonder what Balhousie are thinking about. They don’t own our relatives.

“A lot of people in care have poor sight, poor hearing or have some form of cognitive impairment. You do things that give them some light in their eye.

“People will play them their ­favourite music, show them photos from the past to bring back memories, dance with them help with some exercises or crafts.

“None of this is possible at two metres distance in an empty room.”

A Balhousie Care Group spokesperson said: “We want to say a huge thank you to our relatives, who have been overwhelmingly supportive of our visitor guidelines as we have attempted to navigate the coronavirus pandemic in a way that works for our residents, staff and families.

“We will be opening our doors again on March 4th, giving us a little over a week for our homes to be ready for in-home visits. We are of the firm belief that having one visit and one designated visitor a week is the safest, fairest and most manageable way of welcoming relatives back quickly.

“Moreover, the Scottish Government has made it clear that this week’s ‘Open with Care’ guidelines are recommendations, not rules. Balhousie’s guidance will, of course, change as transmission risks reduce. In the meantime we’re excited about this major step forward for our care home families.”

Speaking yesterday during a press briefing, Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, said: “From this week onwards, I expect to see all care home providers applying the guidance that we have published last week.

“I am anxious to talk to any individual provider that has any remaining concerns about implementing the guidance or any practical problems in implementing it. I don’t expect every care home to get to two designated visitors by the end of this week … but I certainly expect that by the middle of March with our continuous support and the support of Scottish Care that we will get into a position where are all our providers except where they have an outbreak of COVID that all our providers will be offering this really vital contact between loved ones and care homes.”

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The author Lee Peart

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