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Care home visiting: coronavirus rules

Even though lots of restrictions have been eased, there are still coronavirus rules when visiting loved ones in a care home. We've outlined these rules below and what they might mean for you.

Can I visit someone in a care home?

You can visit someone in a care home but you have to be a named visitor.  

While each care home is responsible for the exact details of their own visiting policy, the Government has outlined that:

  • There should be no limit on the number of named visitors a care home resident can have.  
  • Each resident can have a nominated essential caregiver - they will be allowed to continue visiting even during a coronavirus outbreak. 

However, it's unlikely visits will go back to normal straight away as care homes must still follow strict infection control measures. So, when visiting you will still be asked to:

  • book an appointment for when you want to visit
  • take a coronavirus test before you enter the care home
  • wear appropriate PPE, which may include a face covering, apron and gloves
  • be asked to keep close contact, such as hugging, to a minimum.

How do I become a named visitor?

Each care home resident should be asked about who they would like to list as named visitors.

If the person in a care home lacks the mental capacity to make this decision, the Government outlines the care home and the resident's loved ones (such as family, friends or those identified in the person's care plan) should discuss visits. 

How do I become an essential caregiver?

If you're an essential caregiver, you can visit and provide care for a loved one in a care home - even if there are limits on the number of named visitors allowed or if there's a coronavirus outbreak. 

You will be able to have closer physical contact, visit for longer periods of time, and visit areas of the care home that may not be accessible to named visitors. However, you'll need to follow more enhanced safety measures, such as:

  • taking a minimum of 2 rapid lateral flow tests a week
  • taking a weekly PCR test and let the care home know the result
  • taking part in any additional testing care home staff may be required to do
  • wearing the same PPE as care home staff when providing personal care.

You don't have to visit a specific number of times to become an essential caregiver. Every resident's circumstances are different, so it's important to speak with your loved one (if they have mental capacity) and the care home about your role. 

Can I still visit my relative in a care home if there's an outbreak of coronavirus?

If there's an outbreak of coronavirus in a care home, Government guidance outlines all indoor visiting should stop.

However, if you're an essential caregiver you can still visit your loved one indoors - as long as neither you nor the person you're visiting don't have coronavirus. 

There are some other exceptional circumstances, such as if someone is at the end of their life. But this should be outlined by the care after any necessary risk assessments have been completed. Arrangements for end-of-life visits should be discussed with the care home. 

Can a resident leave their care home?

Government guidance outlines that care home residents can leave the care home to visit loved ones, attend day medical appointments or go to public places. They won't need to self-isolate on their return.

The care home will probably carry out a risk assessment for any plans to leave the care home, and these plans might need to be adjusted if considered too high risk.

It's also likely the care home will ask both you and your loved one to keep your distance from others, wear a face covering and avoid more crowded places. 

However, there are some activities that are considered particularly high risk and residents will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days on their return from:

  • overnight stays in hospital
  • any activity which is considered high risk following an individual risk assessment.

If there's an outbreak of coronavirus in the care home, movement out of the care home should be minimised. This should last until the outbreak is over - this should be at least 14 days after the last confirmed coronavirus case. 

There may be exceptions to visitations during this time, such as if someone's at the end of their life.

Are you a carer?

If you're a carer, we have more information specifically for you.

Download our Advice for carers information guide

Download our Caring for someone with dementia information guide 

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Last updated: Jul 21 2021

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