Care homes to decide on extending visiting bans themselves after June 1

Care home.
Care home. Source: ERR

The visiting ban on care homes imposed during the coronavirus pandemic ends on June 1, but individual homes can decide for themselves whether to extend it further or not. For visitors, this may mean that the visiting time should be registered, with people only being permitted inside if they are visiting the bed-ridden.

The emergency situation has had at least one positive effect on care homes - annual infections and abdominal viruses have been lower, managers told ERR current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" Tuesday.

"We have had an unprecedented number of deaths, but the flu season didn´t strike as well. In all of our six homes, nobody has picked up a stomach bug," Vambola Sipelgas, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the South Estonian Care Center said.

From next week, residents of care homes are awaiting visitors again. "They said that homes will be opened on June 1. I checked this. When the nurse came without a mask, I asked why. They said that now, everything was open. I shouted ´hurray´. I felt free," said resident of the Koeru Care Home, Irina Liekstes.

The visiting ban ends on June 1, but the restrictions can differ between various care homes. Several facilities will not let visitors indoors, but with exceptions for visits to elderly people who are bed-ridden. In addition, every visitor needs to fill in the Health Board´s health declaration.

"We ask people to register themselves in advance, so we can plan so there wouldn't be too many guests in any one room at once," Manager of the Koeru Care Home Terje Teder said.

"If possible, we extended the quarantine period for two weeks. At the same time, the measures on how to allow visitors have been decided on," Vambola Sipelgas said.

"Relatives and visitors need to fill in a health declaration, then register themselves. They can spend an hour outside, or be indoors for 30 minutes," Manager of Tabasalu Pihlakakodu, Kadri-Ann Tivas said.

This is logical - there is no ban on visiting from June 1 but the person in charge of each care home is responsible. So he is also the decision-maker, the managers said.

"In this case it is the head of the institution who is responsible for the operation and continuity of his/her institution. Then they can also decide, if there is a risk of infection, to limit visits for a certain period of time," Triin Raag, head of social services policy at the Health Board (Terviseamet) said.

The intake of new customers has also changed. In general, this depends on whether there is room in a home in which to place a new client in quarantine for two weeks. The main lesson for care homes arising from the crisis is that the earlier the doors were closed, and when workers did not go elsewhere, the fewer the number of people infected.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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