Hospital visiting: guidance for health boards

Enabling family support for people in hospital in Scotland.

This document is part of a collection

Mental health, learning disability, neurodevelopment and addictions

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), Article 8, sets out a right to respect for private and family life. This right still applies when people are in hospital and is especially important for people accessing mental health, learning disability, neurodevelopmental, addictions services where their stay in hospital is often lengthy. Given this, the ward is deemed to be their home during this period.

Many people with mental health issues may have fewer family members and friends that they are in regular contact with. They can often feel socially isolated and disconnected from their local communities. It is crucial that connections with their friends and family are supported to aid recovery and to support transition from being cared for in a hospital to managing their mental health condition after discharge. Family and friends should be seen as partners in care, and crucial to the individual’s treatment and recovery.

Individualised approach

An individual visiting plan should be discussed with the person, their family and the ward clinical team. This will ensure:

  • the needs of the person are met
  • no blanket timelines for the duration of a visit

The family have been involved in thinking through how they can best arrange their day to meet the agreed visiting plan and to keep the rest of their family and friends connected to the person. This may include the use of virtual visiting approaches for wider family members and friends unable to visit in person, and

The plan should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure the person’s needs are continuing to be met and that their family are being supported to see them.

As outlined in section 3 above, family or carers should be supported to participate in care where needed.


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