Scottish Government provides update for social care on face masks, testing and vaccination (Added 8 September)

Updated Covid-19 face mask guidance for social care including adult care homes

Following a review of advice, the Scottish Government has updated its guidance on the use of face masks in social care settings including adult care homes.

The updated guidance recommends that face masks do not routinely need to be worn at all times within social care settings. Instead face masks should be for particular situations (for example following staff judgement, advice from health protection / public health or personal choice). This is because although Covid-19 continues to spread, transmission rates are lower and the virus is currently milder than at earlier stages in the pandemic resulting in a reduction in severity of illness and hospitalisation.

Full details are available online Coronavirus (Covid-19): use of face coverings in social care settings including adult care homes - ( Importantly, the fundamental principles of infection prevention and control precautions continue to be essential.

Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI) Scotland and Public Health Scotland will update their associated guidance documents as soon as practically possible.  

Providers are recommended to implement the face mask guidance as soon as possible from 14 September, or earlier if they are ready to do so. The recommendations in the guidance will require discussions with staff and those receiving care and support before adoption. For some services, the changes may be able to be implemented fairly quickly while for others, it may take longer.

Scottish Government is working with Scottish Care to host a webinar regarding changes to face masks and testing within social care. This will be open to all staff within social care to ask any questions they may have about the guidance. The date will be circulated within networks once agreed.

Review of asymptomatic testing in health and social care

A review has taken place of the remaining regular asymptomatic testing in place for health and social care staff and in high-risk settings. Scottish Government will issue advice for health and social care in the week beginning 12 September. This will have updated guidance materials and an implementation date of the end of September. Until this guidance is issued, staff should continue to test as per Coronavirus (Covid-19): social care and community based testing guidance - (

Covid and flu vaccination – autumn/winter 2022

Vaccination and the protection it offers staff and those they care for and support is important.  The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has issued advice for the Winter Covid-19 and flu programme recommending those most at risk, or those who come into regular contact with those most at risk, become eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine dose to maximise their protection over winter. Where possible, this will be co-administered with the flu vaccine, which is a safe and effective way to deliver protection.

The online booking portal for frontline health and social care workers can be accessed, along with other information on the programme and eligibility, at Winter vaccines | NHS inform. The direct portal page link is Login - Customer Service (

Carers who are aged 16+ are eligible for both Covid and flu vaccination this winter. The majority will be called for vaccination later in the programme, as part of the ‘at risk’ group. At this point, appointments can be booked on the portal or through the helpline for those who don’t have digital access. The only exception is that the over 65s will shortly be sent letters with timed appointments. In those letters, it will say that unpaid carers are eligible for vaccination and give instructions on how they can book. If someone they care for gets a letter, the carer can book their appointment from that time. 

New guidance materials on Open with Care: Supporting Meaningful Contact in Adult Care Homes (Added 2 June)

The Scottish Government has produced new guidance materials for Open with Care - Supporting Meaningful Contact in Adult Care Homes.  

These new documents build on best practice by care homes and have been developed in consultation with a range of people including care home provider representatives, Public Health Scotland, health and social care professionals, relatives, residents and the Care Inspectorate. They have been designed to provide information for different audiences, in as relevant a way as possible.

The purpose of this suite of documents is to:

  • update the Open with Care visiting guidance
  • set out principles and expectations for supporting people living in care homes to maintain connections
  • give an overview of the measures in place to support visiting, signposting to more detailed guidance where relevant. 

The guidance principles document should be should be read in conjunction with public health and infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance from Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI) Scotland (Winter Addendum) and Pubic Health Scotland guidance for care homes (see links in document).

To support communications, hard copies of the family leaflet will be issued to care homes by the end of June.

Booking systems and time restrictions for care home visits (Added 9 May)

It is our expectation that people who use services can see their friends and family at any time and without restriction.

We have received concerns about booking systems that some services are now operating and that are restricting the times when friends and family can visit. Families are telling us that some services request 72 hours’ notice before a visit, and some visits are being time limited. 

While we understand that a booking system may be required during an outbreak, this should be in place for the shortest possible time. Booking systems should not be required to visit people who live in care homes except when the service has an outbreak.

If you wish to raise a concern about visiting, please visit our Complaints page.

Reinforcing the rights of residents to have visits and care from loved ones (Added 14 April)

The Scottish Government has introduced two new Health and Social Care Standards for care homes. They set out the expectation that people living in care homes should have the right to see someone who is dear to them, even during a Covid-19 outbreak, and be able to name a person or persons who can directly participate in meeting their care needs.

People living in care homes must be supported to stay connected to loved ones and take part in their community if they wish. We advise care homes on good practice that supports people to stay connected with their loved ones, have visits and take part in their community. Where this support is not happening, we can use our powers to ensure it does.

We have published guidance for care homes on how they must implement visiting.

If you have any questions about visiting you can contact us. You can also raise concerns and complaints with us.

If you are interested more generally in what we expect services to deliver, we publish quality frameworks for all types of care service.

Letters to care homes and letter to housing settings (Added 20 December)

The Scottish Government has issued two letters following the First Minister’s Parliamentary Covid-19 statement relating to further population based guidance and measures to take effect from midnight on 17 December to stem the flow of transmission of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.

The first letter contains updated advice on adult care home visiting. The second letter contains updated guidance on visiting and social activities within supported housing settings.

Visiting in adult care homes updated in light of Omicron (Added 16 December)

The Scottish Government has issued a letter to adult care homes, setting out updated guidance on visits in and out of adult care homes. This guidance follows the First Minister’s parliamentary Covid-19 statement of 14 December relating to further population-based guidance and measures to take effect from midnight on Friday 17 December to stem the flow of transmission of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.

The letter emphasises that visiting and outings from care homes should continue to be supported and the measures that should continue to be in place to more safely enable these. This includes stringent IPC, testing and recommendations to limit the number of households that meet with a resident at any one time to a maximum of two households.

You can read the letter here.

Supporting visiting over the festive season (Added 8 December)

We acknowledge care services’ continued commitment to care for people with compassion and dignity. We recognise the complex and difficult circumstances that care homes in Scotland have been operating under during the Covid-19 pandemic, including the recent emergence of the Omicron variant.

Over the festive season, it is important that residents and their families can celebrate together. We expect care homes to support normalised visiting during the festive season so that residents have meaningful contact with their family and friends.

Effective infection prevention and control measures are essential to minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19 and protect vulnerable residents.

  • Staff must wear fluid resistant surgical masks (FRSM) over the nose and mouth at all times.
  • Staff must maintain physical distant from others except when personal care or other tasks require closer contact.
  • Robust hand hygiene practice is essential and includes hand washing and the use of hand sanitiser at key moments. See Five moments for hand hygiene.
  • Rooms must be well ventilated by opening windows, whenever possible.
  • Managers must ensure staff have read and are familiar with the winter respiratory guidance to support effective measures and minimise the risk of transmission.
  • Carrying out risk assessment and quality assurance supports high-quality compliance with infection prevention and control measures.

We acknowledge concerns about visiting, particularly with the new Omicron variant. However, any concerns must be balanced with the human rights of residents, which must be at the heart of decisions about visiting arrangements. Blanket decisions to restrict or prevent visiting are not acceptable or appropriate. Such decisions should only be in place at the explicit request of the local public health team. See Open with Care.

Alzheimer Scotland: Action on Dementia (added 6 May 2021)

Alzheimer Scotland's new Action on Rights team, funded by the Scottish Government, has been set up to help carers, families and friends of anyone living in Scotland's care homes.

You can can find out how the team can support you here.

Open for Care - Visiting health, social care and other services in care homes and communal activity (added 14 April)

The Scottish Government has provided updated advice for care homes on visiting professionals and communal activities.

Our position on opening for visiting in care homes and supporting essential visiting (added 1 April)

People must be able and supported to have meaningful contact with loved ones and, now that the vaccination programme in care homes is well underway, it is right that care homes open again to visitors. People’s rights and needs must be the focus of decision making.

To help care homes, the Scottish Government has published Open with Care and we strongly support this. Open with Care is guidance that clearly sets out how care homes can welcome visitors safely with the appropriate measures in place.

We fully expect every care home to facilitate visiting and implement Open with Care. Having visits is essential for wellbeing and good mental health.

Read our statement in full here.

Adult care homes: visiting guidance (added 25 February)

The Scottish Government has published new guidance for care homes on visiting during the pandemic plus tools and resources on visiting, and supporting residents in homes with Covid-19.

This guidance recommends that care homes now put in place the necessary arrangements to safely resume meaningful contact between care home residents and their loved ones.

Donna Bell, Director for Mental Health & Social Care, has issued a letter to care home providers explaining the new guidance and the steps to supporting.

Care home visiting guidance (added 11 January)

The NHS Inform website has information and guidance for people visiting loved ones in care homes during the pandemic.

Tell Us Once – what to do after someone dies (added 4 August)

Tell Us Once is a free service that allows citizens to share details of the deceased with relevant government departments, removing the need to engage with each one separately and supply numerous copies of the death certificate.

The service is available in all councils across England, Scotland and Wales and In 2019/2020, 78% of all citizens who registered a death went on to use the Tell Us Once service.

Tell Us Once can notify organisations including:

  • DWP State Pension, Universal Credit, Attendance Allowance and so on
  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • HM Passport Office
  • Council services such as adult social services, libraries, Blue Badge, concessionary travel, electoral services
  • Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA)
  • Public Sector Pensions: NHS, Teachers, Armed forces and so on.

The system is easy to use and once completed departments are notified instantly, no need for you to contact them separately via telephone or in writing.

The Tell Us Once service is the result of partnership working between Central and Local government and aims to help citizens at a time when they need it the most.

If you have any questions about the service or would like to find out more, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PETAL Support (added 4 August)

PETAL Support is a Scottish charity that has been supporting people affected by homicide and suicide for over 25 years. During the coronavirus pandemic the service they provide has been extended to support families bereaved by Covid-19.

FACTS Information Posters are available in multiple languages/formats (added 22 July)

The FACTS Information Posters are available in multiple languages/formats, which can be found in BSL, audio and additional languages

Care home visiting from 3 July - FAQs (added 3 July)

On 25 June the Scottish Government published guidance and a plan for the phased return to care home visiting, starting with outdoor visiting on 3 July.

FAQs are now also available through the link above to support these visits. The FAQs will be reviewed and updated as the phased return to visiting progresses.

Stop It Now campaign helps you to keep children safe from harm (added 3 July)

During this pandemic, children may be isolated from traditional support networks, and exposed to greater risks online or in their own homes meaning that abuse could go undetected.

Stop It Now Scotland has created a prevention pack designed to help keep children safe, using the knowledge and experience it has gained over 12 years working to keep children safe from harm. The pack of resources is free and contains practical advice for professionals, individuals and families. If you wish to receive printed copies of any of these items, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

(Covid-19): Test and Protect information leaflet (added 26 June)

The Scottish Government has produced a leaflet and step-by-step guide to Test and Protect, which has been sent to every household in Scotland.

The leaflet contains information on how Test and Protect works and how to prepare in case you need to self-isolate.

This information is available in English and other languages, and alternative formats, which you can find here.

Advice for people who use mental health, learning disability and dementia services (added 24 June)

The Mental Welfare Commission has published advice advice on coronavirus for people who use mental health, learning disability and dementia services.

Care homes information leaflet for visitors (added 24 June)

The Scottish Government has released an information leaflet for members of the public visiting relatives living in a care home.

Phase 2 poster guidance (added 24 June)

The following posters have been made avaiable by the Scottish Government to support the stages of the phase 2 reopening. 

New guide for people with dementia going into hospital during the pandemic (added 30 April)

Alzheimer Scotland has published a guide for people with dementia, families and carers on going into hospital during the pandemic.  This may be helpful for services where people living with dementia are going into hospital and need staff help to prepare. You can read the guide here.

Supporting people to keep in touch when care homes are not accepting visitors (updated 30 March 2020)

Where care homes are not accepting visitors, it is important that systems are put in place to enable people to keep in touch. This is a time of concern and worry for people about their loved ones and it is important that they can keep in touch. It is also important for the health and wellbeing of people who live in services to not feel abandoned by family and friends.

Download our supporting people to keep in touch when care homes are not accepting visitors guide.

SCLD coronavirus information for people with learning disabilities (updated 30 March 2020)

The Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) has produced guidance for people with learning disabilities on the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak.  This includes easy-read common questions and stay at home advice.

Find out more on their website here or join their Facebook group ‘SCLD stay in touch’, which is open to anyone.