Visiting relatives in care homes

Visits to care homes

This guidance applies from 16 August 2021.

Welcoming anyone into care homes from the community inevitably brings risk of COVID-19 transmission. However, these risks can be managed and mitigated, and they should be balanced against the importance of visiting and the benefits it brings to care home residents and their families.

Vaccination is one of our best defences to combat infection. It significantly reduces the transmission of the virus, particularly following 2 doses. It is strongly recommended that all visitors and residents take the opportunity to be vaccinated before conducting visits.

What are the rules

  • Each care home resident can have named visitors, these should remain unchanged, within reason; there is no limit on numbers of named visitors a resident can have.
  • These visitors should be tested using lateral flow tests on the day of every visit and produce a negative COVID test prior to their visit, and should wear appropriate PPE and follow all other infection prevention and control measures as set out in the guidance, and by individual care homes.
  • Visitors are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum.
  • Where a resident lacks the capacity to make a visiting decision, this should be discussed with the resident’s family, friends and others who usually visit, or are identified in their care plan; a person can only be nominated if this is in the resident’s best interests in accordance with the framework of the Mental Capacity Act
  • It is not a condition of visiting that the nominated visitors or the resident should be fully vaccinated, though this should be strongly encouraged.
  • Testing named visitors: onsite testing is preferable for assurance purposes however care home managers can allow evidence of a recent negative test if it has been taken that day
  • If visitors are not able to produce a negative test, they may be asked to reschedule their visit  or be prepared to take a test on site.
  • If the visitor tests positive, they must immediately self-isolate once notified by Test and Trace and follow guidance for households on self-isolation.They should also complete a confirmatory PCR test which should be provided to them by the care home if testing on site, or ordered from the government portal or by calling 119. If the follow-up PCR result is negative, and was taken within 2 days of the positive lateral flow test, self-isolation is not necessary.

Read the full government guidance.

Visits out of homes

This guidance applies from 16 August 2021.

Even as vaccine coverage increases, there are still risks involved in visits out. It’s important that care homes, residents, family and friends take steps to manage and mitigate these risks.

This guidance sets out advice on the approach that care homes should take to planning and supporting visits out of the home as safely as possible, where residents wish to make them. It explains the measures that should be taken – by the home, the resident and others taking part in the visit – to manage the risks that residents returning from visits bring infection back into the care home with them.

Decisions about steps to mitigate the risk of an individual resident’s visits out of a care home should be taken with the resident’s assessed needs and circumstances considered. The care home should balance the benefits of visits out of the care home against a consideration of the risks to others in the home, where necessary.

It is important that the resident and where appropriate their family are involved in discussions throughout this process. If undertaking a visit out is not possible without self-isolation on return because of the risk to the individual and other residents and staff, care providers should communicate the reasons for this decision clearly to the resident and where appropriate their family.

Full government guidance.

Page updated: 19 October 2021