Coronavirus puts stop to visits to nursing homes

Health minister Hugo de Jonge has announced that from tomorrow nursing homes and small-scale residential accommodation for the elderly will be closed to visitors and anyone not involved in the provision of basic care. This measure will apply nationwide until at least 6 April inclusive. It is designed to better protect vulnerable elderly against coronavirus (COVID-19).

Frail elderly people are most at risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. By closing nursing homes to visitors now, the government and the healthcare sector hope to better protect this vulnerable group. Verenso, the association of elderly care physicians, has recommended that such a measure be imposed throughout the country. The decision is in line with the recommendations of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) to minimise contact with and, in particular, limit visits to people in vulnerable groups.

The measure means nursing home residents will not be able to see their friends and relatives for the time being. The homes are asked to do everything in their power to ensure residents can stay in touch with their loved ones in other ways, such as voice and video calls.

Institutions can make an exception to the ‘no visitors’ rule specifically when a resident is dying.

‘We have been forced to take drastic measures that will cause a lot of distress,’ said Mr De Jonge, ‘particularly given the fact that many elderly people are already lonely. We did not make this decision lightly, but we must protect those who are dear to us. We do so by using our common sense and carrying out the measures with compassion.’