The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has recently opened a consultation to draw up new guidance for healthcare facilities providers regarding visits to residents and patients. The move follows the government’s consultation in summer 2023, which resulted in a response being published in December 2023.

The paper, published by the Department of Health and Social Care, sets out new plans to improve visiting access, so that it will be easier for family and friends to visit people in care homes, hospitals, and hospices. The visiting rights will be better protected, and changes to the law will be made so that visits are a fundamental standard of care.

This move follows criticism of the severely restrictive visiting conditions that were in place for much of the pandemic. Although these measures were designed to protect residents and curb the spread of Covid, many felt that the emotional and mental damage it caused to vulnerable residents and their families was dismissed or not taken into consideration. 

Minister for Care Helen Whately said: “Spending time with loved ones makes all the difference to the wellbeing of people in care homes and hospices. Of course, keeping people safe from infections is important, but this is about striking the right balance.”

She added: “I know how painful it can be when you’re stopped from seeing someone who means everything to you, especially when you don’t know how much time they have left. It’s something I don’t want anyone to have to go through again. That’s why we’re changing the law to recognise just how much visiting matters.”

The CQC has been mandated to monitor providers and make sure they are complying with the new regulations, which are being brought in line with other basic rights such as access to food and drink. 

The legislation will ensure that people in healthcare settings can receive visits from anyone they wish to see; that people living in such facilities can make social visits outside the home; and that when necessary people can be accompanied to hospital appointments by another person of their choice.

Hilda Hayo, CEO of Dementia UK and Chief Admiral Nurse, said: “During the pandemic, limits to visiting rights impacted people living with dementia who weren’t able to see their loved ones. We hope that the introduction of legislation designed to protect visiting rights and maintain meaningful contact will limit the harm that isolation can cause.”

She added: “As these proposals are put in place, we hope that the new rights are accompanied by safe processes and protocols around visits in all health and social care settings, as well as clear communication with families and carers.”

The CQC will be able to use civil enforcement powers if a provider is found to be in breach of the regulations, which are due to come into effect on 6 April.


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2024-05-22T16:19:43+00:00February 2nd, 2024|Blog|
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