People’s rights to have meaningful connections

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 unreasonable 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.

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

Guidance on what we expect from care homes

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.

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

More generally, our quality framework for care homes for adults and older people can be used by care home providers in conjunction with the self-evaluation guide and self-assessment tools to review and assess the quality of service they are delivering.

We are on hand to advise and support any care home looking to improve visiting and connection. If you are a provider or manager, please contact your inspector.

How visiting and going out should routinely work

We expect people who live in care homes to be able 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. Visitors 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 visitors should never enter a care home if they are potentially infectious with covid, flu, the 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. This would be operated in line with Open with Care, our guidance on implementing the two new Standards, Public Health Scotland’s guidance on visiting during an outbreak and any other national guidance on restrictions.

Visitors may have to wear face masks or other PPE 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. 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.  

Support and advice

The Care Inspectorate is here to support all care services to improve. For support and advice, contact your inspector who will be happy to explore issues and solutions with you.

Local NHS health protection teams provide advice and support on infection prevention and control and managing outbreaks of infectious diseases.

Health and social care partnerships are responsible for social care provision across local areas and may be able to provide practical advice and guidance to help services support better outcomes for people experiencing care. Each health and social care partnership is unique, so we advise contacting the partnership that covers your service location to understand what support you can access.  


If you work in social care and want information about how to raise a concern about your workplace, visit our webpage on whistleblowing.