Ill-advised guidance by the Scottish Government say campaigners
Age Scotland has criticised guidance forcing care home residents to wear masks.
The charity has expressed anger at the new Scottish government guidelines which say residents should wear masks in communal areas such as sitting rooms, unless they are exempt.
Professor Amanda Croft, the chief nursing officer, wrote to health boards and care bodies to say that guidance on face coverings in hospitals, primary care and adult care homes had been revised. The rules come in on 25 June.
Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “The confusion and concern from those affected by this detached and ill-thought-out approach is completely valid, especially when you consider that this new guidance is essentially placing further restrictions on residents within their own homes.
“There must be more respect of the fact that these are residents’ homes, and somewhere they deserve to feel free and comfortable.
“It’s important that there is at least a good degree of flexibility in terms of how care homes are expected to implement this guidance in individual settings.”
Care Home Relatives Scotland, which represents residents' families, has called the mask-wearing policy an "unacceptable form of control and restraint" created "with no apparent consultation with care home stakeholders."
"Covid cases are currently at the lowest ever in care homes and vaccine uptake is high.
"There can be no justification for enforcing residents to wear masks during personal care and communal activities in a setting which is supposed to be their home."
It said the guidance contravenes human rights and the Adults with Capacity Act.
Campaigner Cathie Russell said: “You’re basically condemning these people to never see a human face, because the staff always wear masks, and relatives have to wear masks, and now even residents have to wear masks, they can’t even see each other. We’re really quite concerned about it.”
A Scottish government spokesman 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 two-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.”