Nursing homes calling for more visitors to be allowed; residents struggling

Nursing homes want the government to relax the strict visiting rules for their residents more quickly. Allowing only one designated visitor per resident for another two months is "too heavy a sacrifice", nursing home umbrella organization Actiz said to AD.

Due to the coronavirus and the vulnerable people living in nursing homes, the government banned all visits to nursing homes on March 20. On May 11, an experiment started in 26 nursing homes that had no coronavirus cases. Each resident of these 26 homes could receive one regular visitor. On May 25, this was expanded to all nursing homes with no coronavirus cases. The government said that nursing home residents will likely be able to receive two or more visitors again from July 15.

According to the nursing homes, these measures are resulting in painful situations. Residents sometimes have to choose between their partner and their child, or between their children, Actiz said. "Nursing homes are already able to receive more visitors. Don't stick rigidly to that date, but let healthcare organizations set their own pace," director Mireille de Wee said. "The sacrifice for residents not to see their family for months to come, in their final phase of life, is too heavy."

Nursing homes in Nijmegen, Amersfoort, Hardinxveld-Giessendam, and Oostzaan that have been allowing one visitor since May 11, are also calling for the rules to be relaxed more quickly. They would like to allow more visitors per resident, or at least that the designated visitor can be a rotation between family members. They realize that increased visits mean an increased risk of a coronavirus outbreak. "But what is heavier? Preventing family visits leads to loneliness, pain, sadness, and even residents who want to give up," Marcel van der Priem of Tiendwaert nursing home in Hardinxveld-Giessendam said. 

Residents of the test locations initially understood why they could only have one visitor. But that understanding is not endless, Van der Priem said. "There were weeks when we could explain the ban on family visits. But now that there are only 10 or 12 hospital admissions per day and we can go back to the takeaway and nail salon, I can no longer argue why children should not see their mother or father." 

As long as nursing homes take all the necessary hygiene and social distancing measures, they believe they can safely handle more visitors.