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Residents of care homes may soon get more freedoms

Credit: Belga

Nursing home residents may soon be able to see more people, given the high vaccination rate at residential care centres.

Authorities involved in setting the coronavirus measures are currently looking into the question of whether vaccinated citizens should be allowed some relaxations, according to reporting from De Standaard.

Their advice is likely to focus on residential care homes, where the vast majority of the residents are vaccinated.

“In nursing homes, you can make the visiting rules a little less strict,” said virologist Marc Van Ranst.

The demand for a relaxing of rules regarding visits to nursing homes is high.

“Summer is coming, but the people in the residential care centres can’t all go outside,” Margot Cloet of Zorgnet-Icuro told De Standaard.

Zorgnet-Icuro is the umbrella organization representing Flemish general hospitals, initiatives from mental health care and not-for-profit facilities for elderly care.

“Extra visits are certainly welcome,” said Cloet, “although we have to be very careful. But I do think that a relaxation should be possible, especially because we see that hardly any nursing home residents with Covid-19 are admitted to hospital.”

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It remains to be seen what such a relaxation might look like in concrete terms. At present, every nursing home resident is entitled to two cuddle contacts if he or she is staying in a residential care centre where 90% of the residents have been vaccinated.

“But there is a desire to expand that a little,” said Jan De Maeseneer, a professor of primary health care.

Other rules, too, like those regarding their cafeterias, may soon be more flexible. In most nursing homes at present it is still forbidden to take a visitor to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee.

Ultimately, the Flemish Care Task Force will have to make the decisions, which are expected in about two weeks.

If there are any relaxations by May 1, they will also apply to care home residents.

“Last time, we simply followed the [sic] advice,” said Cloet, who sits on the task force.

On Monday morning, the priority vaccination of athletes will also be on the table for the various health ministers, along with prison staff and school personnel.

The Brussels Times