Visiting care homes

Visiting care homes 

The current guidance for care homes says: “Contact with relatives and friends is fundamental to care home residents’ health and wellbeing and visiting should be encouraged. There should not normally be any restrictions to visits into or out of the care home.” The most recent  guidance on visiting care homes (4 April 2023) can be found here  You will need to scroll down to the section entitled, “Visiting arrangements in care homes”.

Can I visit my loved one in their care home?

Yes. Like everyone in society, people living in care homes have the right to a private and family life as a human right protected in law (Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights). Contact with family and friends is often one of the things that people who live in care homes say is most important to them. The care home is their home, and they should normally be able to welcome you to come and see them whenever they want.                     

You should avoid visiting if you are feeling unwell. Even if you have tested negative for Covid-19 and are fully vaccinated, other viruses such as flu and norovirus can pose as much risk to care home residents as Covid. If you have any symptoms that suggest a virus or infection such as a cough, high temperature, diarrhoea or vomiting, you should avoid the care home until at least 5 days after you feel better.                     

You will also be encouraged to practice good hand hygiene.                    

Visiting arrangements

Do I have to make an appointment to visit?

No, you should not be required to book an appointment to visit. During the Covid pandemic, appointment systems were advised to minimise the footfall in care homes but now that we are ‘living with Covid’ there is no longer be a requirement to book.                                                                                                              


Can I visit whenever I want and for as long as I want?

Yes, this is their home and you should be able to visit them whenever is best for them and you including evenings and weekends. The care home may have times when it prefers you not to visit such as mealtimes but it may be that you want to eat with your loved one or help them eat, in which case please talk to the care home manager. There should be no time limits for how long you can stay.                                                                                                              


Are there any limits on the number of people who can visit?

No, there shouldn’t be any limits on the numbers of people who can visit at any one time or in any one day. Your loved one should be able to enjoy visits from whoever wishes to come and see them.                                                                                   

The care home has said there is a Covid outbreak, can I still visit?

Yes, but, when there is a Covid outbreak (this is currently defined as two or more staff or residents testing positive during a 14 day period where it is suspected that the cases are linked), there may be some changes to visiting. One person at a time per resident should always be able to visit each resident indoors, even if they have tested Covid positive. This doesn't have to be the same person each time and this number can be flexible in the case that the visitor requires accompaniment (for example if they require support, or for a parent accompanying a child). End-of-life visiting should always be supported and enabled. Any visiting restrictions that the care home implements must be, proportionate, consider resident wellbeing, meet the care homes legal obligations and be risk based.                                         

During an outbreak, the care home must inform the local public health team and follow their advice. The guidance states that visiting restrictions should continue until the outbreak is confirmed as over, which is usually deemed to be over 5 days following the last positive case.                                         

Residents who test Covid positive are advised to stay away from other residents for a minimum of 5 days after the day they took the test. If after 5 days, they feel well and no longer have a high temperature they can return to their normal activities. Residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to stay away from other residents for more than 10 days regardless of symptoms.

Can I visit if my relative is at end of life?

Yes. Visits at end of life should always be supported and enabled by the care home. Families and residents should be supported to plan end of life visiting, with the assumption that visiting will be enabled to happen not just in the final days or hours but in the final months and weeks of life – albeit recognising that these timelines can be difficult to determine with accuracy.

You may wish to discuss an advanced care plan for your loved one as early as possible in order to get their wishes about care and treatment at end of life recorded. The care home should talk to you about how end of life visits can be enabled safely and will encourage you to wear a mask and follow hand hygiene procedures. Covid testing should not be required under any circumstances for end of life visits.                                

Can children and young people visit?

Yes. Children can bring great joy to people living in care homes and are an important part of people’s family life. Like anyone else visiting a care home, children should be helped to follow good hand hygiene.     

Do my visits have to be supervised by care home staff?

Your visits should not be supervised by staff and should enable you and your loved one to have privacy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Do I have to have had a Covid vaccination in order to be allowed to visit?

No. Visits are not conditional on people being vaccinated – either residents or relatives, however it is highly recommended for your own and others safety.                                                                                     

Can I meet with my loved one in communal areas?

You should be able to be with your loved one where they feel most comfortable in their home and this includes communal areas. The only exception to this is if your loved one has Coronavirus or Norovirus in which case they will be asked to isolate in their room to reduce the risk of it spreading to other residents. They should however if they wish be supported and encouraged to go into outdoor spaces within the care home grounds through a route where they are not in contact with other residents.

I don’t agree with the care home’s policy on visiting, what can I do?

There may be a valid reason why the care home is limiting visits to one person at a time such as a Covid outbreak within the home, so talk to the care home manager first

If your friend or family member in the home has an assigned social worker, you can ask them to help you resolve any issues or concerns.                                   

If you don’t feel there is a valid reason or don’t understand the reasons you’ve been given you can contact Healthwatch Leeds information and advice line if you want to talk to someone confidentially about it. Healthwatch information and advice External link         ;                                

The Residents and relatives association also has a helpline who maybe able to advise you. Resident and relatives Association information and advice External link                                                                                   



Testing and keeping safe within the care home

Do I need to take a test and wear PPE to be able to visit my relative?

Family and friends are no longer required to test or routinely wear any PPE including masks before entering a care home If there is an outbreak of Covid in the home, you may be asked to wear a mask (unless you are medically exempt), however this should be based on individual assessments, taking into account any distress caused to residents by use of PPE or detrimental impact on communication.                 

Children under the age of 11, who are visiting a care home, may choose whether to wear face masks. However, they should be encouraged to follow the IPC guidelines such as practising hand hygiene. Face coverings for children under the age of 3 are not recommended for safety reasons.                 

If you are providing personal care, you may be asked by the care home to wear an apron and gloves which will be provided by the care home.                 

What else can I do to help keep my relative and other people in the care home safe?

Using good hand hygiene (i.e. Washing your hands, especially for Norovirus or using hand sanitizer) before entering the care home and during your visit will help to reduce the effect of spreading the infections.                         

If you have a cough, high temperature, diarrhoea or vomiting, you should avoid visiting until at least 5 days after you feel better. This is to prevent the risk of bringing viruses or other illnesses into the care home which can make older people or those with pre-existing health conditions become very poorly.                         

Going out of the care home

Can my loved one come and visit me out of the care home?

People living in care homes should be encouraged to go out of the care home to take part in community life as and when they wish to do the things they enjoy. This could be for example for a medical appointment, a walk, to attend a place of worship, for education or work, for social activities or for a longer visit including an overnight stay to see family and friends.                       

If the person living in the care home is Covid positive they will be asked to isolate for at least 5 days but should still be supported to go into outdoor spaces within the care home grounds through a route where they are not in contact with other residents. There should be no restrictions on visits out for an individuals who are not Covid positive or showing symptoms.                       

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