Changes to visiting arrangements confirmed

Date published: 17 February 2022

Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed an easing of care home visiting restrictions and the expansion of the Care Partner scheme to include hospitals and hospices.

Graphic for news update

Following advice from the Public Health Agency, Minister Swann has agreed that restrictions on visiting in care homes will move from ‘Gradual Easing’ to ‘Further Easing’.

This change means that there will no longer be a restriction on the number of people who may visit but visits remain limited to two households per day. Overnight stays will now also be facilitated for care home residents. Full details of the changes are published in the 'Visiting With Care – A Pathway' document available on the Department website

Minister Swann, said: “This is a positive step forward and something that I know people have been wanting to see for some time. It is down to the effectiveness of our COVID-19 vaccination programme and the reduced threat from the Omicron variant that we have been able to progress to the next step of the pathway.

“However it’s important that we remain mindful of the risk that Covid presents and that visitors should continue to follow the public health advice. We would ask visitors to continue to wear face coverings, maintain good hand hygiene and take lateral flow tests regularly.”

In addition, it has been confirmed that the Care Partner Scheme will be extended to hospitals and hospices.

The Care Partner scheme has been a valuable introduction to care homes since first being introduced in late 2020.  Care Partners can support their relative or loved-one with their practical needs, and also offers opportunities for meaningful social interactions. More details on the Care Partner scheme are available on the DoH website.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Visiting arrangements in care settings are reviewed every four weeks.
  2. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt
  3. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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