The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has announced a raft of protocols for face-to-face visits at the island’s Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes from December 19, 2021 to January 2, 2022.
“The society is gradually and carefully being reopened… and today, I am pleased to announce to the country that following due consideration and consultation; protocols have now been established for face-to-face visits at our Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes for a limited period,” Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie announced during a statement to the Houses of Representatives on Tuesday, December 14.
“I want to make it clear that visitors will not physically enter the residential spaces in the Infirmaries. They will meet their loved ones in the therapeutic parks that have been established at most of these institutions. In other Infirmaries that currently have no therapeutic parks, special areas will be established to facilitate visitors.”
An immediate ban was placed on visits to Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes in March 2020 when the first COVID-19 case infection was reported in Jamaica.
The island was also declared a Disaster Area in keeping with the Disaster Risk Management Act following recommendation by the MLGRD.
“One of the reasons for doing that was to ensure that we threw a blanket of protection around our citizens who would be most vulnerable to the virus, in this case our elderly population,” Minister McKenzie added.
“These quick, decisive and thorough actions have worked. Painfully, we lost a few of our seniors, but we have saved the lives of the overwhelming majority and maintained high standards of care.”
Both staff and service providers who have had to interact with Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes go through a rigorous series of health and sanitation protocols.
However, the human connection that is also critical to the health of the seniors was interrupted. Last December, the Ministry partnered with Digicel Jamaica to
introduce the ‘Physically Distant But Virtually Connected’ initiative which saw residents interacting with their loved ones via technology.
“I have messages and letters from so many relatives, who want to know when will be the first opportunity, they will have to see their loved ones, whom they haven’t seen in nearly two years.,” noted the Minister.
The protocols established for face-to-face visits at the Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes are:
- Visitors to the Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes are required to make an appointment in advance.
- Visits will last for no more than 30 minutes, and each resident can have no more than three persons per visit.
- All visitors must present a negative Covid-19 test that is no more than three days old and must be fully vaccinated. Visitors are also required to show proof of vaccination.
- The existing health protocols – such as screening on entry and sanitization at the Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes – will continue to be implemented.
Meanwhile, come January 2022, an announcement will be made regarding the process of admitting new residents to the Infirmaries and Golden Age Homes. The MLGRD has received recommendations from the Ministry of Health and Wellness to guide this process.
Concluded Minister McKenzie: “On another matter, I also want to advise that the Ministry has put arrangements in place to make this Christmas a pleasant experience for our homeless citizens. As we did last year, provisions have been made for meals and access to facilities for the homeless during the Yuletide season”.