COVID-19: Visiting in Care Settings in Northern Ireland

Date published: 23 September 2020

Last updated: 29 June 2022

Covid-19: Visiting in care settings in Northern Ireland. 



Visiting Arrangements for All Care Settings

The Department's Covid-19 visiting guidance for all care settings here, including hospitals (incl. Maternity), hospices and care homes, is spread over two documents, with bespoke advice provided dependent on the category of care setting involved:

  • 'A Pathway to Enhanced Visiting' sets out the recommended approach to visiting in hospices and hospitals - including Maternity and other services.

Following the completion of the most recent review, it is now considered appropriate to move to the second and final “Further Easing” phase of this Pathway.  We will keep these arrangements under constant review, taking account of relevant factors, with the next scheduled review due to be completed by the end of July. 

NOTE: In certain circumstances, local decisions may have to be made by Hospices or Health & Social Care Trusts (HSCTs) to apply additional restrictions for limited periods to protect patients, families and staff. This could include specific concerns regarding clinically extremely vulnerable patients or local incidents of infection outbreak in a hospice, hospital and/or evidence of rapidly increasing community transmission or outbreaks.  

  • 'Visiting With Care – A Pathway' sets out an agreed approach to supporting safe and proportionate visiting in care homes. This includes arrangements for the safe management of care home residents receiving visitors, as well as residents being able to visit other households and community facilities, as well as taking part in excursions.  It was developed in partnership with the Public Health Agency, working with representatives from the statutory sector, representatives from various relatives’ groups and independent healthcare providers. 

Following the completion of the latest formal evidence review, it was agreed that we can now move to the final “Preparing for the Future” phase of the Pathway, with effect from 1 July 2022.  This effectively removes all significant restrictions on visiting in those care homes not experiencing an outbreak, while a risk assessed method of managing visiting during outbreaks is also to be used, replacing the previous requirement for all visiting to cease during an outbreak.  The next scheduled formal evidence review is planned to be undertaken towards the end of July, with the outcome published as soon as possible thereafter.

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