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NHI Communication to Members re Nursing Home Visitations

Tuesday December 1, 2020

Dear Member,

Further to communication regarding updating of “COVID-19 Guidance on Visitations to Long Term Residential Care Facilities”, listen here to interview provided by CEO Tadhg Daly to Morning Ireland, RTE Radio One, this morning regarding the matter.

We are urging nursing homes to be proactive in communicating with resident representatives in advance of the Christmas season regarding this delicate matter.

You will appreciate the matter of visiting to nursing homes presents a very sensitive matter for residents, their family and friends, and of course you, nursing home staff and providers. Guidance for nursing homes in this regard is provided by the HPSC (Health Protection Surveillance Centre) and approved by NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team), which is leading the public health response to Covid19. Nursing homes are in the very precarious position of balancing the protection of residents and staff from the virus with the desire to support the wellbeing of residents through engagement with loved ones.

This Christmas will present a difficult one for all.

Communication is important to inform families in this regard and we recommend you undertake such to ensure you are proactive in briefing with regard to measures planned by your nursing home on this important matter. Seek to ensure there is no communication/information ‘gap’ during this worrying time for all.

We encourage you within your communication to consider informing of:

  • Christmas 2020 will be a very different one for all and very challenging for nursing homes
  • Your policy with regard to visits in the coming weeks
  • What has informed your policy
  • Guidance coming from the HPSC and is endorsed by NPHET, which leads the State’s public health response to Covid19
  • Your duty of care to protect residents from the virus
  • Your commitment that you are, at all times, acting in the best interests of residents
  • Visiting policy being subject to change, given Covid19 is an ongoing threat to the lives of residents in nursing homes
  • Measures you will undertake to keep residents and their families connected before, during and after Christmas
  • Commitment to deliver for residents a very special Christmas 2020. You may choose to inform of activities or events you are planning.

We commend staff and providers for being creative and imaginative in maintaining residents’ spirits and social connections through technology, visiting pods and other means. We’re urging every nursing home to ensure it has in place a plan to keep resident families well connected during the Christmas period. This might include sharing:

  • Your Christmas 2020 schedule of activities
  • Pictures from Christmas celebrations (ensure you have appropriate consent)
  • Christmas greetings from residents (you may record in advance)

You might designate a member of staff / staff members to be responsible for communicating in the coming weeks.
Your website and social media channels might also provide opportunity for you to promote the positivity, amidst the very difficult circumstances, in your nursing home.

You might also wish to share with NHI pictures of your Christmas celebrations. Our Caring Together campaign continues and we are encouraging nursing homes to inform NHI of positive events taking place in nursing home care for sharing on our Facebook page. Ensure you have resident consent for sharing of pictures in advance.

Watch the Caring Together video and read the stories here.

We wish you well in your preparations for Christmas 2020.