The Care Task Force gave the green light to the first residential care relaxation. In centers where 90 percent of residents and 70 percent of staff received two doses, they could communicate with each other and visitors after ten days.
In concrete terms, each resident would be allowed to see two beloved contacts, thus physical proximity is permitted. Moreover, these two numbers are allowed to change every two weeks.
Move more freely
Additionally, some things can also be relaxed within the residential care center itself. This allows residents to move more freely through the facility and leave the facility in groups of four. Communication between different living groups can also be renewed, provided the rules of distance are respected.
In addition, residents can also eat together again in the establishment’s restaurant, but preferably in a fixed location and sufficient distance between living groups.
Residential care centers may also welcome informal caregivers again, although they are only welcome in the room. The access of external service providers (hairdressers, non-medical professionals) to the residential care center follows the rules established by the advisory committee. Pre-testing is highly recommended, it seems.
More mutual contacts and more visits are possible, but it should be combined with extreme caution at this initial stage
“The staff is pleased that there is more space for residents who have had little social contact in recent months,” says Karen Moikens, head of the care team, despite her insistence on strict compliance with the unchanged security measures.
“Residential care centers are not an island, they are in constant contact with a community that still has a way to go in the fight against the virus. More mutual contacts and more visitors, but they have to remain hand in hand with extreme caution at this initial stage,” says Moykens.
“Safety measures such as wearing mouth masks, hand hygiene and testing symptoms should be strictly enforced as before, as well as by visitors. We choose to make it clear that from now on the residential care centers will follow the general rules issued by the advisory committee in a relaxed state like the rest of the community.
The task force also emphasizes that the rules apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated populations, as those also enjoy protection thanks to the group’s immunity within the facility.
Flemish Minister of Welfare Wouter Beke (CD & V) is also satisfied. “I am happy that we can take this first step. The vaccination coverage is very good in our residential care centers. We also see that infections in the centers and major outbreaks are decreasing. It also means that we can gradually relax the visit scheme. But of course we have to remain cautious.” Many people have been vaccinated in residential care centers, but they have not yet been vaccinated in our community. “
“Residential care centers are gradually aligning with the general community,” says Margot Cloet of the umbrella organization Zorgnet-Icuro. Chloet cautions that very delicate work needs to be done and hygiene measures remain important. She emphasized that no specific date has been agreed upon, because vaccination coverage varies from a residential care center to a residential care center.
“By the end of the month, nearly all residential care centers will have a second chance. We are currently at a vaccination rate of 96 percent for residents and 87 percent for employees.” Residential care centers dealing with the coronavirus outbreak will have to wait a little longer to be able to relax.
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