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Vaccination of vulnerable opens doors to nursing homes

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Residents will be afforded two visits per week as safety measures continue


Áine Ryan

THE ‘new normal’ is becoming a little more ‘normal’ at the Pilgrim’s Rest Nursing Home in Westport. Visitor restrictions have made less stringent with two visits a week being allowed from yesterday.
Indeed, for one happy resident, an old friend who happens to be a hairdresser will be most welcome for a visit whilst giving her locks some TLC.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday (Monday), Noel Marley, the nursing home’s co-owner, confirmed that it is now over a month since 80 percent of residents and staff were fully vaccinated.
“We expect to have a good level of immunity in our little community here now and feel very hopeful. Of course, we are still adhering to all the precautions and will continue to do so,” he said.
He said it was wonderful to be in the fortunate position of being able to welcome friends and family members into the nursing home again, albeit with strict visiting guidelines.
“Whilst this has just started again today, we have facilitated visitors on compassionate grounds throughout recent months. One of our residents celebrated a 100th birthday last week so three members of her family joined her in a pod to mark this milestone,” he said.

Nphet guidance
NEW guidance approved by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) for nursing home visits came into effect yesterday, Monday, March 22. It allows nursing home residents to have two visits per week once 80 percent of the staff and residents have been fully vaccinated.
Speaking ahead of the relaxation of restrictions, the Chief Executive of Nursing Homes Ireland, Tadhg Daly, said it was a ‘joyous’ day for residents and their loved ones but the sector must remain ‘hugely vigilant’.    
“It’s a very important day for all of us in the sector now, and it’s a very positive development. That being said, there is an element of concern there as well because of the relatively high number of cases in the community. It’s a huge step in the right direction, but we need to be hugely vigilant and can’t drop our guard,” Tadhg Daly said.  
Earlier this month, the Department of Health agreed that that the ‘advanced stage of the vaccination rollout in nursing homes’ has allowed for these ‘cautious’ changes.