Elderly psychologists: “The ban on visits was the wrong measure” | Right away

All nursing homes had to lock their doors during the Corona crisis and the elderly could no longer see their loved ones. This has to be done differently with a possible second wave, according to the Senior Psychology Section of the Dutch Institute of Psychologists.

The section reports on NU.nl to draw up four recommendations for the future. The GZ psychologists Amy van Doormaal and Frederik Jan Bruijel, who work in the section and work in nursing home care, explain.

Where to liePen you in particular against during the Corona crisis?

Bruijel: “The fact that the rules were for everyone and there really was no room to make exceptions. In addition, it was painful to see that nurses had to work in harsh conditions and often did not have the space, time and energy for individual attention. It was mainly to see their frustration and self-control.”

“At first I took the ban on visits for granted, but gradually I realized how counterproductive and impossible it was.”

Frederik Jan Bruijel

What voYou have the choice of a visit ban?

Van Doormaal: “It is understandable that a visit ban has been chosen. There were not enough protective materials to adequately protect our customers, their families and colleagues. Fortunately, we have now learned more about the virus and there are enough protective agents available, which I do not think will make it necessary to close the doors of the nursing home completely in the future.”

Bruijel: “At first I took the ban on visits for granted, but gradually I realized how counterproductive and impossible it was. Now I am convinced that it was the wrong measure that caused a lot of damage.”

What the impact of the visit ban on on the mental health of older people?

Bruijel: “Anxiety and mood disorders and an increase in behavioral problems. People with dementia could see that they lost control of their own lives, memories and identity more quickly. There were no loved ones who reminded them who they were. This accelerated dementia.”

‘A lady with dementia that I treat has become anxious and has constructed events in her head that she hasn’t experienced. She lost touch with reality by losing conversations about the past with her partner and daughter.”

Was the policy too strict?

Van Doormaal: “There is a great focus on the safety of the elderly, and this is at the expense of the freedom to make your own decisions. I have often heard that ‘the vulnerable in society need to be protected from the virus’, but they were not asked if and at what price they wanted it. That is what we need to talk about. One wants to be more at risk than the other.”

Four opinions on a possible second wave

  • Ask customers what their needs are in the next corona wave and deliver customization. Look for creative solutions when the time comes
  • Fight anxiety by providing mental support to residents, loved ones and care teams
  • Make room for rest. Pay attention to the contact of the residents with their loved ones. The absence of these can be a threat
  • Pay attention to the psychological well-being of healthcare professionals to prevent them from

Contact with relatives is a prerequisite for keeping most people alive, they write in your opinion.

Van Doormaal: “Older people only end up in the nursing home in the last phase of their lives today. The focus is not on healing or prolonging life, but on the time that people still have as pleasant as possible. And the loved ones are an incredibly important part of it.”

Bruijel: “The lifespan has no value if you get the quality out. Of course, you can protect everyone from a disease, but older people are more vulnerable and die more often than others at the same level of protection. This is not the result of a virus that happens to pass by, but the nature of life. The quality of life can be determined lately.”

What should be different next time?

Van Doormaal: “There has to be a good balance between freedom and security. Older people are entitled to the same protection against the virus as everyone else. If they want, they can protect themselves extra, but that shouldn’t be an obligation.”

Bruijel: “A simple answer: to protect the quality of life.”

Minister Hugo De Jonge announced on 16 July that there was no intention to ban new visits to nursing homes nationwide.