Ward Patient Family/Friends Visiting Arrangements (updated 16 September 2021)

Our visiting guidance on all sites continues to be restricted and, with the emergence of new variants, we must still remain cautious. However, as the roadmap out of lockdown continues, this will be continually reviewed. Currently, daily visiting is permitted by appointment.

During the height of the pandemic, the Trust adopted a risk-based approach to support decision making for patient visiting arrangements. These arrangements remained in place during the first months of the UK government ‘unlocking’ of restrictions.

On 19 July 2021, the Government moved to step four of the roadmap – a new phase of continued caution whilst managing the risks of COVID-19. Since this date we have seen:

  • Emerging evidence that indicates that the current community infection rate of cases per 100k is not translating into the same level of hospital admissions that were seen earlier in the pandemic.
  • Ward outbreaks have reduced and where these have occurred these have been well managed to the extent that they have had minimal impact on patients and workforce.
  • The PPE supply chain is stable, compliance with understanding and using PPE is good in all areas and across all groups – NSCHT staff, partners, contractors and visitors.
  • There is a requirement to ensure local system continuity with hospital visiting arrangements.

In response to these developments, ward patient visiting arrangements have been updated as follows:

1.   There will be a maximum of two visitors per patient – in exceptional circumstances such as end of life the Ward Manager / Nurse in charge can increase this to four members of the same family. The visiting area should never exceed the maximum number of people allowed in that area according to COVID secure guidelines and all visitors must have been risk assessed when booking the visiting slot.

2.   There are to be staggered visiting appointments across each area. Ward Managers will be responsible for ensuring that all visiting appointments are booked in advance and visiting times will be restricted to avoid having multiple visitors in any one location at the same time.

Information for visitors

1.   Visitors should be informed in advance about what to expect when they see the patient and given practical advice about social distancing, wearing personal protective equipment, handwashing and risks associated with the removal of gloves to hold hands as any contact increases the risk of transmission.

2.   Anyone showing any symptoms of coronavirus, has had a positive test for COVID, who has been told to self-isolate, or is undertaking a 10-day LFT test as a COVID contact should not visit.

3.   All visitors should be advised to contact the clinical area before visiting and should be assessed prior to entry and for PPE compliance. This includes the need to wear a surgical face mask before entering the building – these will be provided at the closest point practicable upon entering the building or at the reception desk. These must be worn until visitors have left the main building.

4.   If a visitor declares they are exempt from wearing a mask, this may be due to an underlying medical condition; this must be considered in managing the visit to protect the ward and the visitor and will be a crucial factor in the risk assessment. If the visitor is NOT wearing a mask, the patient should be encouraged to wear their mask and socially distance at all times.

5.   All visitors must go directly to the ward they are visiting where they will be directed to the visiting area and must stay in that room for the duration of the visit.

6.   All visitors will be provided with additional PPE on arrival at the ward, which must be worn before entering the ward and remove when leaving. The ward staff will should assist with this.

7.   All visitors should remove coats or jackets, roll up their sleeves and wash or sanitise (disinfect) their hands.

8.   All visitors should decontaminate their hands as they enter and exit the main building and ward (hand sanitise dispensers are located by all entrances to our buildings and at entrances to the wards).

9.   Visitors must ensure a 2-metre distance at all times. If visits can be facilitated outside, this should be the preference. Section 17 leave arrangements and risk assessments may allow for additional visiting in gardens or outdoors.

10. Each visit will last a maximum of 45 minutes.

11. The visiting area will be decontaminated between visits.

12. There are no waiting areas for other family members such as escorts and drivers – therefore only the visitor must enter the main building.

13. Personal belongings: Visitors should bring as few personal belongings as possible with them, e.g. bags, handbags, electronic devices, gifts and food for the patient.

14. Wards must keep a list of hospital visitors’ names and contact details to aid the NHS Test and Trace teams if contact tracing is indicated.

End of life visiting

We will ensure that end of life visits are as flexible as possible to meet the needs of the patient and the family. We recognise that these are often highly emotional and difficult times for both patients and families and that individual requirement will vary from one family to another. The multi-disciplinary team and Ward Manager / Nurse in charge will always be available to support these discussions.

Clinical Need

We recognise that there may be some very specific circumstances whereby some patients may require the support of a personal assistant or carer to help with communication and/or meet health, emotional, spiritual or religious care needs. These decisions will need to be made with the support of the ward multi-disciplinary team.

If close contact support is needed on a regular basis i.e. 2+ times per week, the carer or person providing support should have a negative LFD test before coming to the ward/area.