This page was updated on Monday 16 November 2020 at 5.14pm

If you have a relative in a care home or supported living you should only visit them in exceptional circumstances. This is when it is clear that harm that will be experienced by the resident from a lack of visits or in end of life cirumcstances.

When you can visit

It is up to the care home to decide if, when and how you can visit. But they should work with you to ensure your relatives needs are met and find the most appropriate solution if regular visits are not possible.

How care homes should decide on visits

Care homes should follow the government guidance on visiting arrangements in care homes

The care home must make sure that the type of visit or contact chosen is the lowest risk to meet the resident's needs. They should carry out a risk assessment showing that they can manage the visit safely.

The care home should make sure they take into account the following:

  • respect the rights of the individual resident and use an inclusive approach, involving the resident and their family
  • minimise harm through appropriate risk management process
  • maintain accountability with the Registered Manager
  • support and protect the community in and around the care home
  • whether residents or staff or visitors are in the extremely clinically vulnerable group
  • the provisions and needs outlined in the person’s care plan
  • the level and type of care provided by external visitors and the ability of care home staff to replicate this care
  • appropriate level of staff to enable safer visiting practices
  • if contact by telephone or video is possible and reduces the need for personal visits (bearing in mind the resident's wellbeing)

They must use a case by case approach to decide if, when and how visits will take place.

If a care home’s visiting policy follows different rules for different residents or categories of resident, they should explain:

  • any different approach applied to individuals or groups
  • any factors that are relevant to a decision relating to such individuals or groups
  • the decision-making process to be applied to these decisions

What happens if visiting is reduced

Any reduction in visits to a care home must be balanced by an increase in communication and engagement with families.

If you are not able to visit your relative regularly, or at all, then the home needs:

  • to provide you with others ways of contacting them, such as phone or video calls
  • to tell you what they are doing to help support your relative's wellbeing if you are not able to visit as much or at all

How visits should take place

The care home must make sure they protect any visitor, staff and resident from infection.

The home must be able to evidence through a recorded risk assessment that:

  • careful consideration has been given to the degree of harm due to deteriorating wellbeing 
  • balanced against the mitigated risk of cross infection to others

If you visit a relative in a care home you should be aware of the risks and agree to the requirements of any risk assessment. You care home may ask you to sign the risk assessment and agree to abide by rules and accept any residual risks, and such visits should be supervised.

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. You can find more advice from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Support for the family of care home residents

We recognise the impact visitor restrictions are having on residents, loved ones and staff and we have made a range of support available. 

The loss of contact is difficult and 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.

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