WITH THE continuing increase in the number of local Covid cases, the Western Trust has tightened its visiting restrictions once again.
While visiting has not been completely halted as it was during the first lockdown, patients at SWAH and other inpatient settings will now be limited to one visitor for one hour per week, unless in specific circumstances.
The Trust has warned visiting may be once again suspended entirely “at any given time” on a ward or area of the hospital depending on the situation with the virus.
The announcement from the Trust came after Health Minister Robin Swan issued guidance for health facilities in line with the recent increase in restrictions across society.
Care homes have also been told to move to allowing only one visitor per person, with some exceptions, and have been told they may have tighten restrictions further in the event of outbreaks.
“Our priority is to safeguard and protect people who are receiving care and to protect in particular our frontline staff so that they are able to care for patients and families,” said a Trust spokeswoman, adding the arrangements would remain under constant review in line with guidance.
With regard care homes, last week Minister Swann said the rules were to protect patients while recognising the importance of human contact.
“I fully recognise how difficult and upsetting it is for people in care homes and hospitals not to see their loved ones,” he said.
There will be some exceptions to the new visiting restrictions, both within the Trust and in care homes. At the Trust there will be exceptions in paediatrics and neonatal, maternity, palliative care, and for patients with dementia and learning disabilities. For full information on the exceptions to the restrictions visit the updates section at www.westerntrust.hscni.net.
As for care homes, the Minister has urged them to develop “care partners” who will be “more than a visitor”. These will be people previously involved in a resident’s care and who can continue to help provide support and assistance.