People’s rights to have meaningful connection

Every adult and older person living in a care home has the right to connect with family, friends and community. They have the right to have visits and go out if they wish. Care homes should support this and not put barriers or restrictions in place.

Scotland’s Health and Social Care Standards set out what people should expect when using health, care or social work services. In 2022, two new Standards were introduced that cover the right to visit even when there is an outbreak of infectious disease such as covid, norovirus or flu.

We have published guidance for care homes on how they must implement visiting in line with the two new Standards.

Legislation is being developed by Scottish Government that will enshrine visiting rights in law. For now, this is known as Anne’s Law.

What we expect care homes to do

The Care Inspectorate’s job is to make sure services are delivering good-quality care and support that respects people’s rights, needs and wishes. That includes making sure care homes for adults and older people fully support visiting and connection by following the appropriate guidance and processes.

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 expect care homes to support visiting by following the Scottish Government’s Open with Care guidance.

If you are interested more generally in what we expect care homes to deliver, our quality framework for care homes for adults and older people guides care home providers on what we look at when we inspect and the quality we expect from them.

How visiting and going out should routinely work

We expect people who live in care homes to be able to see their visitors at any time and without restriction. This includes outings from the home.

Care homes should not operate booking systems or restrict when people can visit or go out. You should not have to give notice, and visits and outings should not have a time limit. 

People living in the care home and their visitors do not normally need to wear face masks unless it is a personal choice.

Good hand hygiene should always be followed, and you should never visit a care home if you are potentially infectious with covid, flu, a cold, or other illness that can be passed on to others.

What if there is an outbreak of infectious disease such as covid, norovirus or flu?

People living in care homes can still have visitors in an outbreak, but certain things will work differently.

It may be that only visitors nominated by the person living in the care home can visit during an outbreak. This would be to limit the numbers of people coming and going and reduce the risks of infection.

During an outbreak, arrangements for visiting should be made by the care home in consultation with the local health protection team and in line with current guidance. You should contact the care home before you visit to find out what these are.

Face masks or other PPE may have to be worn following advice from staff or the local health protection team.

Technology and meaningful contact

People in Scotland who experience care are increasingly relying on digital connectivity and technology to support their wellbeing and daily activities, however, we recognise this may not meet the needs for everyone.  We have published a practice guide for care services on how technology and digital devices can be used to make a positive impact on health and wellbeing for people experiencing care.  

What to do if you are unhappy

If you feel your care home is not supporting visiting and connections in the right way or have other concerns about standards of care, you can raise it in the first instance with the care home manager. This is often the quickest way to resolve a problem.

However, if you remain concerned, you can tell us, and we will ensure concerns are addressed properly and in good time. Visit our complaints page to find out more.

Where else can I get information, advice and support?

Scottish Government family leaflet on visiting care homes

Scottish Government Easy Read leaflet about visiting for adults living in care homes

NHS Inform

Public Health Scotland

Scotland’s health and social care partnerships (responsible for social care services delivered across local areas)

Age UK (Scotland)