Nursing home residents can look forward to two visits a week from today.
The new visitation rules apply to all homes that have fully vaccinated 80% of their residents and staff.
There is no requirement to limit each visit to less than one hour.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Therese Bruton said she is “absolutely delighted” to be visiting her 93-year-old mother Mary today.
“I know how important it is for my mam,” she said. “Even though it is at a distance and I can’t touch her and I can’t hug her, the more time we spend together the better.
“It just feels like in the last year, it has been really not meaningful visits and so I am glad now that a decision has been made to open up visiting for all the residents in nursing homes.
“My mum suffers with dementia so I haven’t been able to hug her for a very long time and I won’t be able to do that today – but I will be able to sit with her and chat to her in the garden which is hugely, hugely important.”
Also on the show, Nursing Homes Ireland CEO Tadgh Daly said the new visitation rules are, “hugely positive news and very welcome.”
“I suppose we need to move with caution as well, given the high numbers in the community,” he said.
“So, it is very, very positive and I suppose the effect of the vaccination at this stage is really bearing fruit.”
He said to say the last year has been challenging would be a “huge understatement.”
“The vaccination has been hugely welcome,” he said. “It does, at this early stage, confer protection against the worst effects of COVID.
“I suppose the challenge now for us all is working collaboratively with the residents, with the families and the providers of care because it is important that we listen to the voice of the residents here.
“Some residents may not wish to receive visits; some may still wish to receive visits outdoors and others may wish to receive visits indoors.
“So, it will be very much an incremental approach now over the next couple of weeks.”
He said the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures in nursing homes will still be “very, very vigilant.”
“We still need to maintain a high vigilance so PPE may be required on occasions,” he said.
“Face coverings in terms of a surgical mask – not just a face covering but all visitors will be required to wear a surgical mask – and obviously the hand washing and coughing etiquette.
“Also, if a person clearly has any symptoms or has been in contact with somebody with COVID, they should not present at a nursing home.”
You can listen back to Ms Bruton and Mr Daly here: