Stage 3 visiting at Care homes by Health Board Area: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

"Around 40 per cent of the care homes around the country now allow and enable indoor visiting" Nicola Sturgeon statement at FMQ today.

1. Please advise how many care homes this 40% figure represents. Please advise what the 100% baseline figure being used is. Please advise of the date this 40% figure was calculated.

2. Please advise of this 40% of care homes allowing indoor care home visiting how many are care homes for older people aged 65+, and a breakdown of this number allowing indoor visiting by each health board area.


To answer your first question, based on information provided by health boards to Scottish Government as at 10 September 2020, 367 adult care homes had begun stage 3 visiting (guidance available here:

This represented 41 per cent (or "around 40 per cent") of the 885 homes in total that we received information on.

Please note, not all boards were able to provide information on the status of care home visiting in their area. Where boards did provide information, the care home visiting status for some care homes was unknown. However, the majority of care homes in Scotland were captured in the information supplied by health boards.

The status of care home visiting will fluctuate from week-to-week and between health boards depending on local COVID measures and restrictions.

In regards to your second question, I am unable to provide the information you have requested. This is because the Scottish Government does not hold information regarding how many of the care homes identified as having begun stage 3 visiting, are care homes for older people aged 65+.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

Whilst the Scottish Government does not hold any recorded information regarding how many of the care homes identified are care homes for older people, it is intuitively likely that the overwhelming majority of the homes concerned will indeed be homes which do cater for older people.

The number of care homes (regardless of care home type) that had begun stage 3 visiting as at 10 September 2020 by health board is shown in the following table.

Health Board Area

Care homes that had begun stage 3 visiting as at 10 September 2020

Ayrshire and Arran




Dumfries and Galloway




Forth Valley




Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Not supplied




Not supplied




Not supplied





Western Isles




Scotland has developed a staged approach to the safe introduction of visiting in care homes during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. On 12 October, Scottish Government published updated guidance with additional visiting options.

Current recommendations are that indoor visits take place with one designated visitor per week for up to four hours, and outdoor visits with up to six people where conditions allow and with safety recommendations in place. These aim to help care homes better balance safety with the need for family and visitor contact and has been developed with input from clinical experts, family members and carers.

Essential visits (including indoors) should continue to be supported at all stages of the pandemic in all areas, including where there are temporary local restrictions in place.


“The First Minister has made it clear that visiting is vital to the wellbeing of people in care homes and their loved ones. We very much hope to see care home visiting supported to resume safely.

“Provided the conditions for safely resuming indoor visitations have been met, we strongly urge all care homes to put in place the conditions to support this to happen safely and soon, alongside existing safety measures such as the weekly testing offered to all care home staff, and sample testing in homes with no cases.”

At a national level, each stage of easing of restrictions is assessed depending on scientific advice and the progress of the infection rates. If risks are identified with this approach, restrictions may be resumed. Any home that has an ongoing outbreak should close to non-essential visitors.

“We recognise the challenges faced by care home providers in preparing for and implementing visiting, especially for indoor visitors and appreciate the efforts made by care home staff to support families to visit their relatives. However, alongside the need to avoid the risk of COVID-19 entering care homes, it is vital that we also consider the risks associated with residents having reduced contact with their loved ones.

“National guidance only applies when Directors of Public Health judge general local conditions to be safe - they have a responsibility to put additional restrictions in place if the circumstances warrant. In certain areas, local Directors of Public Health have decided that a temporary pause on indoor visiting is necessary and this is reviewed regularly. This is to protect the residents, because community levels of COVID-19 are such that the risk of bringing the virus into care homes is high.

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