NHS Highland has issued updated visitor guidance for hospitals and care homes from Boxing Day as mainland Scotland enters Tier 4 restrictions.
Highland hospitals will permit essential visiting only. An essential visit is one where it is imperative that a relative or friend is allowed to see their loved one in a number of exceptional circumstances.
These could be:
A birth partner supporting a woman during hospital visits
For a person receiving end-of-life care – defined as flexibly and compassionately as possible, to support patients at the end of life spending meaningful time with their loved ones in their final days and weeks;
to support someone with a mental health issue such as dementia, a learning disability or autism where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed;
to accompany a child in hospital
They also include any other situation where clinical staff assess that it is essential to involve family or carers for ethical or patient safety reasons.
Some of NHS Highland areas will be moved to Level 3 restrictions from Boxing Day.
Visiting to hospitals in Level 3 will also be essential visit only but clinicians at hospital level can agree to move to one designated visitor if it is safe and appropriate.
Visiting to Care Homes in Level 4 restriction areas will also change and this applies to all care homes across the Scottish mainland, including those operated by independent sector care providers.
These changes mean that indoor visiting will be limited to essential visits only.
Outdoor visits, via garden or window visits can still take place but only agreed in advance with the care home and should be limited to one visitor only.
Visits by children and young people are suspended at this time. Any outdoor visiting will also be subject to any restrictions in place with each individual care home.
Essential visits include circumstances where it is clear that the person’s health and wellbeing is changing for the worse, where visiting may help with communication difficulties, to ease significant personal stress or other pressing circumstances, including approaching end of life.
For island care homes in Level 3 restrictions the current visiting guidelines continue to apply with essential visits continuing, indoor visits can have one designated person for up to four hours once a week, and garden visits can have a maximum of six people from no more than two different households 60 minutes once a week. This is dependent on the current status of the care home.
Whatever level you are in, NHS Highlands requests that if you are unwell and/or exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 – a new, persistent cough and fever or high temperature – please do not visit any health or social care settings.
Self-isolate at home and book a test.
Mary Burnside, deputy director of midwifery with NHS Highland, said: “NHS Highland supports a person-centred, flexible approach to visiting so that people have access to families and loved ones while they are in hospital.
“These measures are being taken with great reluctance to protect our patients, visitors and staff in line with public health and scientific advice regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We will keep you all updated as and when the guidance changes and would like to thank you all for your cooperation during these challenging times.”
Further information on Level 4 precautions is available here.