SINGAPORE: Nursing home residents will be allowed to have one visitor a day, with the visit capped at 30 minutes, after Singapore enters Phase 2 of its reopening on Friday (Jun 19).
Visitors were barred from nursing homes in April after COVID-19 cases were detected at Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home.
"We recognise that it has been a difficult period for family members and caregivers who wish to visit their loved ones at nursing homes," the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a press release on Wednesday.
Each nursing home resident will be allowed a maximum of two designated visitors, but only one may visit each day, with each session limited to 30 minutes. This is to minimise the risk of infection within the nursing homes, said the ministry.
Visitors will have to be screened before entering the homes, and should not visit if they are unwell, the ministry said.
Nursing homes will need to put in place additional measures to protect their residents, such as having dedicated visitation areas or safe distancing precautions.
Some nursing homes will be able to start receiving visitors only after these measures are properly implemented.
The total number of visitors allowed each day in a home will also be capped through appointments during the initial period, including this weekend.
READ: COVID-19: Phase 2 of reopening to start from Jun 19, social gatherings of up to five people allowed
"Caregivers are thus encouraged to work with the nursing homes to make appointments in advance and to visit over the following weeks, instead of rushing to visit over the coming weekend," MOH said.
The health ministry will review the visitor management measures in the coming weeks and may adjust accordingly depending on the risk of community transmission.
"We would like to appeal to family members for their patience and understanding," said MOH.
DAY CARE SERVICES TO RESUME ON JUN 29
The ministry also said that day care services at most Senior Care Centres and Active Ageing Hubs will resume on Jun 29. This is to support seniors and their caregivers who may have to return to work in Phase 2.
Providers will contact clients and their caregivers to make the necessary arrangements to return to the centre.
All care staff will be tested for COVID-19 before day care services resume.
More than 3,600 staff members in non-residential community care services have been tested so far, and all of their results were negative, MOH said.
Meanwhile, senior-centric activities organised by the People's Association, Health Promotion Board, Sport Singapore and the Council for Third Age will be able to resume in Phase 2.
These will, however, be limited only to activities that can be done individually, with no sharing of equipment between participants. Examples include computer classes and health talks.
The sessions will be kept small and with safe distancing measures in place.
Since Phase 1, Senior Activity Centres and Community Resource, Engagement and Support Team (CREST) providers have progressively resumed some individual activities to address seniors' psychosocial needs, with restrictions on the duration and number of people per session.
These restrictions will be eased to allow more seniors to benefit from the programmes from Phase 2, as long as safe distancing measures are in place.
MOH also encouraged seniors to continue to stay home as much as possible and to limit their interactions to a "small regular circle" of close contacts.
"In Phase Two, with more activities and interactions, there will likely be a higher risk of community transmission," the ministry said.
Additonally, with households allowed to receive up to five visitors a day in Phase 2, those visiting seniors should maintain a safe distance from them, and practise good hygiene, the ministry said.
Seniors should also avoid peak hours if they need to go out.
MOH will continue to monitor the situation closely, with the aim of continuing to ease measures until Singapore reaches "a new normal in Phase 3".
"If we stay disciplined and adhere to the safe management measures, we will be able to take steady steps forward, and resume the activities we enjoy," it said.