That should actually never happen again: blanket bans on visiting old people's and nursing homes, as imposed in the first Corona wave in spring 2020 - with serious consequences for the residents.

Now, however, there are increasing indications that this is exactly what is happening in the course of the sharp increase in the number of infections.

Britta Beeger

Editor in Business.

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The situation was relatively calm until the beginning of the year, says Markus Sutorius from the legal department of the Biva care protection association, the federal interest group for old people and people affected by care.

Now, however, significantly more relatives have reported who have not seen their parents for weeks, sometimes months.

The Biva therefore currently receives between 20 and 40 inquiries per week.

The federal government's care representative, Claudia Moll, had also recently been alarmed.

She once again received “helpless and shocking reports” from relatives about bans on visits to entire facilities, some of which lasted for weeks.

Moll pointed out that the federal and state governments had decided to relax extensively and that contact persons who had been vaccinated in nursing homes no longer had to be in quarantine: “In this situation, restrictions on visits require special justification and comprehensible justification.”

Infection Protection Act: No complete isolation

In principle, visit bans in old people's and nursing homes are still possible according to the current version of the Infection Protection Act, which expires in a few days.

However, they should not lead to the complete isolation of the residents, it says.

A minimum of social contacts must be guaranteed.

Apparently this is not always the case.

The nursing protection association Biva reports that one of its members, whose mother with dementia lives in a nursing home, recently took urgent action against a general ban on visits to the facility and was right by the Bavarian administrative court in Bayreuth.

In the decision, which has not yet been made public, the court argues that the responsible health department has not explained to what extent it wants to counteract the isolation of individual residents who are not in quarantine.

Last year, the Berlin Charité examined the consequences of this isolation for the 800,000 residents in the old people's and nursing homes in a study for which home managers of inpatient facilities were surveyed throughout Germany.

More than 90 percent reported that the protective measures had knock-on effects for residents.

Loneliness was mentioned most frequently at around 82 percent.

More than a third of the nursing staff stated that residents no longer recognized their loved ones.

One of the first lessons from the pandemic was that the isolation had “terrible and sometimes irreparable consequences,” said Moll, the care representative.

She appealed to everyone involved, in coordination with the health authorities, to check exactly which measures are necessary - and how the highest possible level of participation and visits for the residents can be maintained.