Visiting care homes

From Monday 16th August 2021, government guidance on care home visiting has changed. This guidance should be followed at all times – even if the resident you are visiting has been vaccinated. Read the full guidance on GOV.UK

Who can visit?

Every resident can have named visitors who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits. There is no limit on the number of named visitors that a single resident can have and no nationally set limit on the number who can visit in a single day. 

However, care home managers are best placed to develop their own policies, in consultation with residents and their relatives, to ensure that visits described in the national guidance can be provided in the best way, taking into account the physical space and facilities in the home.

Every resident can choose to nominate an essential care giver who may visit the home to attend to essential care needs, even during an outbreak. Further details around the management and support of care giver visits are available in the GOV.UK guidance.

As well as the named visitors, other family and friends can also visit. These types of visits are carried our according to the best way the care home can manage them and will be outdoors, behind screens or in visiting pods. 

Visits in exceptional circumstances, including end of life, will always be enabled.

Must visitors be vaccinated?

It is strongly recommended that all visitors and residents get vaccinated. Find out how to book or manage your coronavirus vaccination on NHS.UK.

How to arrange a visit

You must arrange a visit in advance by contacting the care home.

Visits outside of a care home may be granted in some circumstances. For more information, please read, Visits out of care homes: supplementary guidance on GOV.UK.

What to expect from a visit

All visitors must have a lateral flow test before each visit and follow all the infection prevention and control measures set out by the home, such as social distancing, hand hygiene and wearing PPE. Each home should be able to provide you with their visiting policy. 

Care homes support NHS Test and Trace and will keep temporary records of all visitors. 

Please plan ahead and arrive on time. If you are late, it may not be possible to extend your visit extended if other are people are waiting to see residents. If you are early, you may be asked to wait outside. 

What type of physical contact can we have?

Named visitors who are not the essential care giver are advised to keep physical contact with the resident to a minimum.

Physical contact like handholding is acceptable if hand washing protocols are followed. Close personal contact such as hugging presents higher risks but will be safer if it is between people who are fully vaccinated, without face-to-face contact, and there is brief contact only.

Decisions on how to protect the most vulnerable may be made by the care home and resident's social worker based on an individual risk assessment, following national guidance.

What happens if there is an outbreak?

If there is an outbreak of Covid-19 in a care home, all visits will be stopped for a minimum of 14 days, except in exceptional circumstances such as end of life. 

Essential care givers can continue to visit, but not if the essential care giver or resident are Covid-positive, and not if the care giver is not fully vaccinated or has been notified that they are a close contact of a positive case. 

If a case of a variant of concern is identified, visits will be stopped until everyone in the care home is tested and no new cases are found within the following 28 days.  In the event of an outbreak, window and pod visits do not necessarily need to be stopped. A risk assessment on such visits during an outbreak will be undertaken to take account of specific circumstances of the care home.

Care home visits for close contacts with someone who is Covid-positive

From 16th August 2021, those who have been fully vaccinated will no longer need to self-isolate if they have been identified as having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. However visitors to care homes are advised against visiting if they are identified as a close contact, unless absolutely necessary.

Where visits do occur, visitors who are close contacts of a positive case should receive a negative PCR result prior to their visit, and a negative lateral flow test result earlier in the day of their visit.

Residents who have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 do not need to self-isolate as long as they are fully vaccinated, and can continue to receive visitors as normal, but they should avoid receiving visitors who are clinically extremely vulnerable for 10 days after they have been in contact with a Covid-positive case, except in exceptional circumstances.

Where possible, residents identified as close contacts should undertake a PCR test, and following this, undertake daily lateral flow testing for up to 10 days.