Coronavirus (COVID-19): adult care homes visiting guidance

Guidance on visiting during the pandemic plus tools and resources on visiting, and supporting residents in homes with COVID-19.

This document is part of 2 collections

Open with Care - supporting meaningful contact in adult care homes

Visiting is vitally important for maintaining the health, wellbeing and quality of life of residents. It is also crucial for family and friends to maintain contact and life-long relationships with their loved ones, and to contribute to their support and care.

Scotland’s Strategic framework update for tackling COVID-19 published on 22 February 2022 sets out a vision for adult care homes. The sector was sent a letter on 24 March 2022 providing updated guidance. This included the removal of some protective measures in care homes.

Care facilities are the homes of the residents who live in them. Residents should be supported to enjoy fulfilled, meaningful lives, free from restrictions as far as possible.

Even during outbreaks of Covid-19, the care home should support residents to see their family and friends, unless circumstances are exceptional.

If protection measures do need to be in place these must be in proportion to the circumstances and for as short a time as possible. 

Promoting visiting and activities for residents

Providers should promote visiting and outings from the care home, wherever possible and proactively manage the risk so that this can happen.

There are no recommended limits around the number, frequency and length of visits or outings, as long as the visit or activity remains manageable for the resident and the care home staff.

Residents should be supported to undertake visits out of the care home in line with Public Health Scotland guidance:

Protecting residents and staff

Older people, or individuals who are immune compromised living in care homes are often more vulnerable to severe illness as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). To protect residents and staff there are additional measures in place to enable visiting to happen in a safer way. These include:

  • infection prevention and control (IPC) measures
  • individual risk assessments
  • testing arrangements (staff and visitors)

Posters and social media tools called ‘Kind to Remind’ can also be downloaded at Dropbox and used within care homes to promote best practice.

Keeping residents connected with loved ones during an outbreak

The Named Visitor Initiative supports residents to remain in contact with their loved ones if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 within a home. During an outbreak routine visiting may have to be put on hold. The Named Visitor Initiative means residents can identify up to three specific visitors who can visit on their own during an outbreak.

In some circumstances, the care home may be able to support two named visitors at any one time. Residents and their family and friends should discuss the Named Visitor Initiative with the care home. The care home can receive advice from the local health protection team on all outbreak measures including the named visiting..

Essential visits including end of life care and distress

Care homes should support essential visits even if there is an outbreak so loved ones can visit a resident receiving end of life care.

Essential visits can also be considered where not visiting would be the cause of the distress. This could apply to someone with a mental health issue, a learning disability or autism.

Visiting professionals

Visiting professionals should continue to visit adult care homes unless advised otherwise by the local health protection team. This includes visits by:

  • health and social care professionals
  • holistic and spiritual care professionals
  • site contractors
  • maintenance personnel
  • health and safety personnel

More guidance on visiting and protective measures during outbreaks

Care homes

Care homes for older people

Infection prevention and control

Care homes for younger adults

We have published a letter from the Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care on new Health and Social Care Standards to strengthen rights for people living in adult care homes (31 March 2022).

General public

General public visiting residents

Letters to the sector and additional supporting information

Infographics and resources



Back to top