Hospital visiting: guidance for health boards

Enabling family support for people in hospital in Scotland.

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The importance of support from family members and loved ones for people in hospital cannot be overstated, bringing comfort to both the person in hospital and their family.

We know that this support has a positive effect on quality of care including nutrition, healing, recovery and overall quality of care. Given this, family support should be a fundamental part of the care of a person in hospital and not optional. All health boards should now have returned to full person-centred visiting.

Since 2018 it has been our policy that health boards should be developing the culture and processes to support a more person-centred approach to family and carer presence in hospitals and other similar settings. Whilst some additional temporary restrictions were needed during the COVID-19 pandemic, all health boards should have now returned to full person-centred visiting. The principles of person-centred visiting include:

  • the removal of set visiting times
  • establishing processes to support individuals to identify the people who are important to them and
  • how they would like to be supported

What is meant by family support

The terms “family” and “carers” are used in their broadest possible sense, recognising that the person an individual might want to support them in hospital could be a friend, carer or neighbour and may not always be a relative. We recognise that the support provided from such people is vital to the wellbeing and recovery of a person in hospital. Wherever the term “family” is used throughout this guidance the same broad interpretation is intended. This recognises that family and friends are not “visitors” in a person’s life, even in hospital.


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