Local councillor Steve Delaney’s call for Aberdeen City Council to write to the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary of Health & Wellbeing for clarity on whether or not elderly or disabled people living alone could be visited and if not, to change the legislation to allow this, today received unanimous backing from across the chamber.
Following concerns raised by a number of residents and personal experience in his own family situation, Mr Delaney felt that something had to be done to tackle social isolation and loneliness. Everyone acknowledged it but nobody seemed willing to address it, despite numerous studies highlighting this issue.
Following the second lockdown those who were housebound or in isolation due to underlying health conditions have once again found themselves ‘locked up’ with no more than drop offs of food and medicines permitted as meeting people outside was not an option for them.
At the end of last week a Scottish Government spokesman confirmed that such visits would now be permitted, something he offered a cautious welcome for.
Councillor Delaney said, “My thanks go to all councillors who, in rare show of unity, put their political differences to one side to support people who live alone across our city”.
“I first raised these concerns in a letter to the First Minister on 8th October, and have received no response. It has taken until 12th December for a Scottish Government spokesman to confirm to the Press & Journal that home visits will be permitted for emotional support if someone’s mental health or wellbeing is at risk”.
“According to the report, people across Scotland who are living alone with a disability or mental illness can now have visitors indoors to help combat social isolation without fear of prosecution. I’m just disappointed it has taken so long to get this clarity”.
“Having said that, this is not a free for all, nor should it be. This exemption only applies to people living alone whose mental health or wellbeing is at risk as a result of disability or a caring situation. Even then the guidance on face coverings, hand washing and social distancing should be observed in order to protect those being visited”.
“Charities, third sector organisations and individuals who have been highlighting the detrimental effect of loneliness and isolation on those who live alone and cannot get out and about for health reasons, should be congratulated as we see their hard work pay dividends to thousands of Scots”.
“All we need now is a Ministerial statement in the Scottish Parliament which sets out how this exception works to to whom it applies, both clearly and unequivocally, to ensure that all elderly and disabled people in Scotland who are living alone, are aware of this”.