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Infection control experts issue open letter on care home visiting

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A group of experts in nursing and infection prevention and control (IPC) is today warning against the use of IPC measures as a “rationale” for stopping safe and compassionate visits in care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a new open letter published in Nursing Times, the specialists say that preventing people from visiting loved ones in social care settings in the name of IPC is a “misinterpretation and at times even abuse” of IPC principles.

The letter is the brainchild of independent global health consultant and former Infection Prevention Society (IPS) president, Jules Storr. Among the signatories are five former IPC presidents, current president Pat Cattini as well as incoming president Jennie Wilson. Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, is also on the list, Helen Hughes, chief executive of Patient Safety Learning, as well as leading IPC nurse specialists, nurse academics, a GP and carers.

Ms Storr, a nurse by background, and the hub topic lead, said she was motivated to take action after hearing “the most heart-breaking” stories from health professionals and relatives of residents about restricted visits in the UK in the wake of COVID-19.

Some had not seen relatives for weeks or months, whilst others were only allowed to see their loved one once a week for 20 minutes at a distance, she said.

One individual had told her how when their father had died only one family member was permitted in the home and they were not allowed to sit close enough to hold his hand.

Ms Storr said these practices were “absolutely outrageous and wrong from an infection prevention point of view”.

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Source: Nursing Times, 16 October 2020

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