<COVID-19>Opinion Calling to Ensure Opportunities for Visitation in Social Welfare Facilities and Medical Facilities
April 16, 2021
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (“JFBA”) compiled an opinion paper, “Opinion Calling to Ensure Opportunities for Visitation in Social Welfare Facilities and Medical Facilities” dated April 16, 2021, and submitted it on April 20, 2021 to the Prime Minister; the Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare; the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; the National Governors' Association; the Japan Association of City Mayors; and the National Association of Towns and Villages.
Summary of Opinion
For the elderly and people with disabilities who are living in fee-based nursing homes, assisted living residences, etc. (including other facilities and housing, and hereinafter collectively referred to as “social welfare facilities”) or hospitalized at medical facilities, procuring opportunities to see family members, relatives, and supporters in person constitutes a crucial right and interest to maintain mental and physical stability, prevent functional decline, and gain appropriate custody, even when infection prevention precautions are in place. In light of this, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations urges that the necessary measures and actions described below be taken to ensure opportunities for visitation.
- The Government and the local governments should provide—in addition to principally procuring opportunities for visitation to the fullest possible extent even when precautionary measures are in place—concrete measures as appropriate and in a timely manner so that opportunities for visitation will be ensured according to the local status of the pandemic, on the basis of up-to-date expertise and necessary investigations and analyses regarding the risk of transmission posed by visitation. Combined with this, in order to allow visitation in social welfare facilities and medical facilities, it is urged that measures including financial aid and additions to fee-for-service reimbursement to elderly care/medical care providers be implemented so they can install protective equipment or coordinate staffing.
- The industrial organizations to which social welfare facilities and medical facilities belong should communicate the importance of ensuring opportunities for visitation. Additionally, these organizations should disseminate information by producing manuals and handbooks presenting specific methods to ensure opportunities for visitation according to the type of social welfare facilities and medical facilities while implementing infection control precautions. The industrial associations should also facilitate building a mechanism to attend to on-site inquiries and provide necessary advice.
- Taking full account of the fact that securing visitation opportunities is a vital right and interest of the elderly and people with disabilities, social welfare facilities and medical facilities should strive to achieve a balance between infection prevention precautions and ensuring visitation opportunities according to the local status of the pandemic and enhance a system of necessary human and physical resources, instead of taking inflexible measures such as uniform prohibitions of visitation.