Visits from family and friends in care homes are essential for people’s health and wellbeing and are particularly important during the festive season.

We understand it is vital to keep residents safe during the pandemic, and we expect all care providers to operate in accordance with the guidance issued by the Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland.

 Services should allow regular visits from up to two households at a time to ensure people who live in care homes have access to their family and friends in line with their rights and wishes, which should be at the heart of all decision making.

We will continue to monitor this closely through our scrutiny, assurance and improvement support work.

Anyone with a concern about care can contact us on 0345 600 9527 or use our online complaints service.

We take all concerns brought to us seriously and consider all information given to us carefully.

If we uphold a complaint, we will publish the outcome on our website and may take further action where we have evidence that people's needs are not being met or their rights respected.

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 very important that residents and their families can celebrate together.

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.

o   Staff must follow the current Scottish Government travel guidance including car sharing when travelling to and from the service or the homes of people they provide care to.

o   Support staff to protect themselves, residents and the public by getting the Covid-19 vaccination and booster. Book the vaccination online.

o   Continue to follow the testing regime as detailed in the social care testing guidance.

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.

It is particularly important that services support visiting during end of life care and we will not hesitate to take action to support this.

Any care home that is experiencing difficulty meeting visiting requirements, can contact their inspector who can offer support and assistance. Our Covid-19 webpages are a good source of further information and guidance to support services. Care homes can also get support from their local oversight team.