This page was updated on Tuesday 27 January 2021 at 12.00pm
We know how important visits are for supporting the health and wellbeing of people living in care homes and their relationships with friends and family.
We’re encouraging and supporting care homes in Sheffield to provide safe visiting opportunities.
When you can visit
It is up to the care home provider to decide if, when and how you can visit.
Care homes must involve you, the family member or friend you’d like to visit, and any other relevant professionals in all decisions about visiting arrangements.
How care homes should decide on visits
Care homes must:
- take all steps possible to enable safe, regular visiting opportunities
- make decisions about visiting on an individual basis. Blanket bans on visiting are not acceptable
- work with individual residents, their family and friends, and local professionals to find the right balance between the benefits of visits to people’s wellbeing and the risk of transmission of COVID-19
- complete an individual risk assessment and visiting / contact plan with every resident
- consider the rights of residents who may lack the relevant mental capacity needed to make particular decisions and, where appropriate, consult their advocates or those with power of attorney. For example, some people with dementia and learning disabilities may lack the relevant capacity to consent to a provider’s visiting arrangements. These residents will fall under the empowering framework of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) and are protected by its safeguards
- always allow visits in exceptional circumstances such as end of life, extreme distress or depression
- make visits as COVID-19 secure as possible
- pause visiting arrangements (except in exceptional circumstances such as end of life, extreme distress or depression) in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in the home. If visiting is paused, care homes must keep residents, family and friends informed, and maintain alternative means of contact between residents and their loved ones such as phone and video calls
Advice for visitors
You should follow any advice that the care home gives you when visiting. You should also take all of the normal precautions such as washing your hands and maintaining social distancing.
Do not visit if you have tested positive for COVID-19, are self-isolating following contact or travel, or you’ve experienced any of the following COVID-19 symptoms in the last 10 days:
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell
Getting tested at care homes
You need to take a COVID-19 test at the care home before you will be allowed to see the person you are visiting.
If you test positive, you need to leave the care home immediately and self-isolate. The care home will provide you with further guidance on visiting when you have completed your self-isolation period.
If you have a negative test, the national guidance advises that if you’re wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and you follow other infection control measures then some close contact may be possible. However, contact should be limited to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, which will generally be increased by very close contact, and you must follow any guidance the care home itself provides on physical contact.
Even if you or the person you’re visiting have had your COVID-19 vaccination, you must still follow the guidance above to keep yourself, your loved ones and the other people living and working in the care home as safe as possible.
Visiting outside care homes
Care homes should support residents to leave the care home to visit family and friends safely and in a way that takes into account the needs of all their residents and what is possible within the facilities and resources of the care home.
You can find more advice from the Department of Health and Social Care.
Support with decision making
Care home providers, residents and visitors should work together. If there are disagreements about visiting arrangements, or you have any questions, please contact us for advice and support. Email email@example.com.
If you want to discuss your situation with someone independent, you can contact Healthwatch Sheffield. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0114 253 6688, 9am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.
We anticipate this position will remain over the winter months, but we will keep our approach to care home visiting under review and communicate any changes to our position.
Sources of support
We recognise the impact visitor restrictions are having on residents, loved ones and staff and we have made a range of support available.
We encourage all loved ones to speak with care home managers who can signpost them to support. You can also find support from the Carer’s Centre and Age UK.
We recognise the impact on residents with dementia is even more significant, with the loss of physical contact even when visiting is allowed. You can read the MHA guide and receive additional support from the dementia team.