Care Homes: Visiting with Care – A Pathway

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

The Patient and Client Council and Public Health Agency would like to hear from residents, families and staff in relation to recent experience of visiting in Care Homes.
We want to hear from you so we can learn what went well and what needs to change.

This ‘Snapshot Survey’ will open from Monday 11th April 2022 and will close on Friday 27th May 2022.

• To access this survey online visit:
• Alternatively to request a copy of the survey telephone:
Public Health Agency – 028 9536 2868
Patient Client Council – 0800 917 0222

The PHA’s Dr David Cromie, Donna Duffy, who has a relative in a care home, and Lorna, a resident from Summerhill Care Home Belfast, have recently took part in a Question & Answer session talking about visiting in care homes and how care homes can stay safe as we progress through the Visiting with Care Pathway.

Click on the image below to watch this Q&A in full (approx.7 minutes)

This video was co-produced by the Patient and Client Council, DOH, PHA and members of the public/ relevant engagement platforms in an effort to enhance communication around this topic.

Latest Update:  20 May 2022

Welcome to the first edition of the Visiting in Care Homes Newsletter. We plan to develop regular newsletters to outline how visiting in care homes will evolve to support meaningful experience for residents, families, loved ones and care home staff and also optimise protection from COVID-19 transmission. Since March 2021 the Public Health Agency (PHA) along with colleagues in the Department of Health (DoH) have worked with family members, RQIA, Health and Social Care Trusts and other stakeholders to design the Visiting with Care – A Pathway. In addition to the arrangements set out in the Pathway, each resident can nominate two Care Partners, who will be able to have ongoing contact with the resident in almost all circumstances.

Visiting In Care Homes Newsletter Issue 1

Update:  at 24 March 2022 and still valid at 25 May 2022

 The PCC has received the news that based on Public Health Advice, “It is appropriate to remain in the third full stage of the Pathway – “Further Easing”.


This means, when the Care Home is NOT in Outbreak

✅Visiting can happen in residents’ own rooms with window open.

✅There is no restriction on the number of people who may visit but visits must be limited to visitors from two household per day.

✅Care Homes will continue to operate a booking system for all visitors including evenings and weekends.

✅Children can visit and the responsibility will rest with the adult for supervision to ensure they adhere to all IPC measures. Any restriction on numbers has been lifted.

✅Close physical contact enabled to include ‘brief’ hugging.

✅Effective hand hygiene practices and masks to remain.


⚠When there is an Outbreak

If there is an outbreak in a care home, unfortunately all visits will have to be suspended, unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as end-of-life.

The care home manager will continue to take direction from PHA health protection Duty Room regarding management of the outbreak and the infection prevention and control measures required.

Happily since care partners undergo routine testing, if they are infection free they can continue with existing care partner arrangements, in cooperation with the care facility.

However, everyone must consider the risks associated with an outbreak, and the potential for becoming infected, along with the increased risk to the resident.


📧To request the ‘Summary of Public Health Expert Reference Group Findings’ which have influenced this decision, please email:


How the PCC can help: The PCC are active in supporting members of the public on this issue through both advocacy and engagement work – through individual advocacy cases where caseworkers are assigned on a 1-1 basis, and through collective advocacy, primarily directed through the Engagement Platform.

If you would like to get involved or find out more Freephone 0800 9170 222


For more information: COVID-19: Visiting in Care Settings in Northern Ireland | Department of Health (


Related articles

  • For Questions and Answers in relation to visiting in care homes including a link to the ‘Visiting with Care- A Pathway visit
  • Care Partners – Care Partner Leaflet and Visitor Information – February 2022 This information provides clarity for families and loved ones of residents in Care Homes in relation to Visiting and Care Partner arrangements. Please note in the updated guidance, the Care Partner scheme has been extended to Hospitals and Hospices where permitted.