FAMILIES have reacted angrily to new residential care rules which require elderly people to wear masks “in their own home”. 

The Scottish Government has published new guidelines which advise that care home residents “unless exempt” should wear fluid resistant masks in communal areas such as sitting rooms.

Professor Amanda Croft, the Chief Nursing Officer, wrote to the NHS and care bodies on Tuesday to say that guidance on face coverings in hospitals, primary care and adult care homes had been revised.

The changes prompted anger from relatives, care home owners and sector leaders.

Donald Macaskill, Chief Executive of Scottish Care said it was “inconceivable” that people with dementia, who make up a large proportion of care home residents, would be forced to wear a mask.

Mr Macaskill said he was seeking clarification from the government that care homes would be permitted to retain some flexibility in imposing the guidelines.

Catriona Ross Lyons, whose mother is in a care home in East Dunbartonshire said:”Clearly the people thinking this might be feasible have never had any experience with dementia. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

The document states that residents should wear a mask, unless they are exempt, in all communal spaces.

They are not expected to do so within their own rooms or toilets “unless they are receiving direct care” an d particular importance is given to hospital transfers.

Derek Barron, who is Director of Care at Erskine and sits on a Scottish government care home advisory group, said the new advice was “not well considered”.

Glasgow Times: Donald Macaskill raised concerns Donald Macaskill raised concerns

He said: “From the outset of the pandemic we’ve been saying these are residents’ homes.

“Nobody else in society is being asked to wear a mask in their own home, so why are our own residents being asked to wear a mask?

“As a member of CPAG (Care Homes Clinical and Professional Advisory Group) I have NOT seen this guidance before it was issued. It appears our humanity is again being left behind.”

The guidelines state that residents should be given “respite” from masks but should be encourage to put on a new one “after a reasonable period of time”.

Staff are encouraged to have a discussion with residents as early as possible or with carers if the elderly person lacks capacity. Care home owners are advised that the new guidelines should be implemented by June 25.

Donald Macaskill, Chief Executive of Scottish Care, said: “Similar Guidance in September was adjusted to make clear that residents in a care home need to be supported flexibly and that it is their home. We have asked for clarification that this has not changed.

“Residents especially with dementia need to be sensitively supported and wearing a mask continuously is inconceivable. A care home is NOT a clinical setting!”

Another relative said: “I despair. I just hope and pray they don’t do this to my mum. 
“She’s in the very last stages of dementia. I’m fighting to get essential visitor status.
“My mum didn’t want her final days to be like this.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: "“Masks are not required in a residents’ own living space or when they are physically distanced from others. If a resident is not able to wear a mask they will not be required to wear one – this has always been the case in care home settings.

“A mask should only be used where a resident can tolerate wearing a mask when receiving direct, close personal care where it is not possible to keep a 2 metre distance and will not impact on the provision of care, and when residents in communal areas cannot be physically distant from others.”

“We are working in partnership with the sector and will continue to work with them to alleviate any confusion this guidance may have caused.”