The Council’s care home staff have been working hard to ensure the latest guidance is met to allow loved ones to have an enhanced level of contact from this month.
From mid-March routine indoor visiting will again be allowed, along with “brief hugs” and the holding of hands.
With a wide range of protections now in place, including the vaccination programme against COIVD-19 for care home residents, it has been decided by the Scottish Government that “meaningful contact” should be made easier for the wellbeing of residents and their loved ones.
However, visiting may still require to be restricted on Public Health advice for example, in the event of a positive COVID-19 test result at a care home.
The news has been welcomed by St Rognvald’s House, Registered Manager Shirley Miller who believes staff, residents and their loved ones will all benefit.
“With Mother’s Day on 15 March there can be no better gift for loved ones than to be able to give each other a hug, or a simple touch of the hand.
“We are very grateful here in Orkney that families have been so understanding and have worked with us. We all have had the safety of the residents at the forefront of all we are trying to do but there is no question that the separation of loved ones takes its toll. To see this opening up again further is great news for all concerned.
“I am incredibly proud of how staff have stepped up in these challenging times. They have all gone above and beyond to ensure the adverse effects of the restrictions have been kept to an absolute minimum where possible.
“I have been told on numerous occasions by families how residents come to view staff as family themselves – there can be no better compliment than that.
“We will continue to follow the latest guidance and endeavor to keep our residents and staff as safe as possible.”
Families have paid tribute to the staff across care homes in Orkney.
One said: “The staff have done more than we, as a family, could ever have done. There is 24-hour care but it is more than that; they are like a second family and have gone above and beyond to make sure our loved one has been very well cared for.”
When the lockdown was enforced in March 2020, many families across the UK were separated for many months.
“There were many months when I was unable to see my mother at all due to the restrictions – we understand why they were in place for everyone’s safety but that did not make it any easier. I saw a considerable deterioration in her condition once I was able to have essential visits once again – whether that was a natural progression of the dementia or brought on by the lack of family contact we will never know.
“The staff have always kept us up to date with everything that is happening, and we can phone at any time.
“The staff have been invaluable throughout, always going the extra mile but for us to be able to give mum a brief hug or touch her hand will mean a great deal. We just hope that there is now light at the end of the tunnel, and this is the first steps towards normality for everyone.
“We cannot thank the staff enough for the care and attention they have given our mum especially during these difficult times.”
Another family said they had longed for this day to arrive.
One resident’s daughter said: “I am a very tactile person and have always hugged people – to not be able to hug mum has been devastating. In the earlier days of the pandemic, it was very confusing for mum as she couldn’t understand why we weren’t allowed inside. During the garden visits, mum would come towards us for a hug and it was so hard to try and explain why we couldn’t do that. It was very upsetting for everyone.
“The news that we will be able to give her a cuddle or just sit and hold her hand means the world.”
Full details are available on the of the Scottish Government website