Alzheimer Scotland is hearing first-hand through our various frontline support services about developing visiting inconsistencies in care homes as a direct result of the new Omicron variant. These inconsistencies are as a result of decisions being taken locally by some care homes, contrary to the Open with Care guidance and the principles of Anne’s Law.

A letter from Anne Armstrong, Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, and Graham Ellis, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, setting out updated guidance on visits in and out of adult care homes can be viewed here. This guidance follows the First Minister’s Parliamentary COVID-19 statement on 15th December relating to further population-based guidance and measures to take effect from midnight on 17th December to stem the flow of transmission of the Omicron variant.

The letter emphasises that visiting and outings from care homes should continue to be supported and sets out the protective measures to support them. This includes stringent testing and recommendations to limit the number of households that meet with a resident at any one time to a maximum of two households.

Henry Simmons, Alzheimer Scotland’s Chief Executive, said:

“The pain and trauma families have experienced as a result of lack of meaningful contact with their loved ones is both heartbreaking and entirely unacceptable. We absolutely acknowledge the risks of this virus and the ever-changing landscape we have found ourselves in over the last 2 years. However, we are days away from our second Christmas of this pandemic and unlike last year, we have advanced infection prevention control measures such as the vaccinations programme and lateral flow testing. Alzheimer Scotland’s position is quite clear – people living in Scotland’s care homes should be afforded the same right to family connection as everyone else – and unless there is a direct contradiction from Public Health, families and friends pose the same risk management level as staff.

We know there are exceptional standards of practice being put in place with some care homes – Alzheimer Scotland is calling for consistency and clarity, and for the gold standard to be the mainstay of practice across the care home sector.”

If you are a family or friend of someone living in a care home in Scotland and require support with visiting access, please contact our Action on Rights team. You can reach them via our 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline on 0808 808 3000 or email [email protected].