An open letter has been published in the Nursing Times from infection prevention and control experts, together with interested and concerned individuals and organisations, about the restrictions enforced in nursing, care and residential homes.
Restrictions are being imposed in relation to COVID-19 across too many nursing, care and residential homes in the UK and beyond, in the name of infection prevention and control. A number of experts in this field, led by Jules Storr, independent global health consultant and former Infection Prevention Society (IPS) president, summarise in an open letter why infection prevention and control should be an enabler not a barrier to safe, compassionate human interaction in nursing, care and residential homes.
By adding their voice their intention is to accelerate action to end this uncompassionate treatment of people in homes as well as for their families and other loved ones.
Presented in the letter are six actions targeted at nursing, care and residential home managers, governments/local authorities, the infection prevention and control community, health care leaders, families and campaigning groups, to help everyone move forward with revised decisions.
- Nursing, care and residential homes: Allow normal family interactions by stopping restrictions and instead continue to inform and support families on the steps to take for safe contact in a spirit of trust and cooperation. Be confident that restricting visits should not be used as a replacement or shortcut for inadequate infection prevention and control measures – address gaps in safe practices where they exist. Commit to using infection prevention and control as an enabler that will protect staff, residents and families.
- Government, local authorities/public health departments: Remove any statements that may be seen to justify “blanket bans” on visiting. Instead actively vocalize the need for local decision makers to facilitate safe, normal interaction, appropriate to the local situation. Even where an outbreak occurs and some restrictions may be warranted, make it clear that safe, compassionate exemptions must still prevail and be actively facilitated. Continue to address gaps in safe practices and lack of resources, in order to facilitate infection prevention and control.
- Infection prevention and control community: Speak up in support of safe family interactions now and apply infection prevention and control with compassion. Actively facilitate safe family interactions and support planning to ensure adequate infection prevention and control supplies, and the implementation of training and communication activities/materials.
- Healthcare leaders: Speak up and support infection prevention and control with compassion, respect infection prevention and control expertise but help apply it in support of the ethos of this letter.
- Families: Understand, respect and adhere to the infection prevention and control recommendations requested of you to support the safety of yourself, your loved ones and care home staff.
- Campaigning groups: Use this letter to support your efforts.