Visitor Information

Covid-19 and Care Homes: Information for Families, Relatives and Carers

This is a very worrying time for anyone with a relative or friend in a care home.  We understand that you will be anxious and will have a lot of questions about your loved one’s safety.  The situation is fast-moving and the response of the HSC is also rapidly changing.  However, we hope that this document can provide some answers to the questions we are most frequently asked at the minute. 

You will find the most up to date information on the Department of Health, Public Health Agency and Patient and Client Council websites.

Frequently Asked Questions

My loved one is over the age of 70.  Am I allowed to visit them in their care home? 

At the minute there is no blanket ban on visiting anyone living in a care home in Northern Ireland. Some homes have put restrictions on visits as part of their plan to keep residents safe. 

We know this might be distressing but it is a fact that elderly people are more at risk from Covid-19 than other people.  Where a care home has put restrictions on visits they must facilitate other ways of contact between residents and families and carers. 

This might mean by phone or video calling such as FaceTime or Skype.  The home should tell you how they are going to do this and how you can make it work for you and your loved one. 

Why have all care homes not closed to visitors?

Unless and until there is a direction to close all homes to visitors, this is a decision for each individual home to take.  This is not as simple as minimising the risk of transmission of the virus.  We know that care home residents and their families and friends really value the visits to and from their loved ones and to stop them suddenly may have an adverse effect on their emotional wellbeing.  Each home will look at the risks and benefits and make a decision on the weight of the evidence they have.

If visits are restricted will residents still receive care from visiting professionals?

Yes.  All health and social care professionals will continue their work in care homes.  They will take all necessary precautions such as using protective equipment to minimise the risks of spreading the virus. 

What if there are serious shortages of staff or supplies to the home? 

All homes have plans to manage their business should an emergency occur.  They have been asked to revise these plans to make sure they are fit for the current situation.  Should homes suffer a high volume of staff absence that can’t be covered for example through an agency; Trusts will be asked to provide additional support. 

How can I help the home during this time?

It is vital at this time that if you are able to visit that you adhere to the advice about social distancing and hand washing, this is crucial to keep all residents, staff and yourself safe. If visiting has been suspended staff will endeavour to update you regularly on your relative or provide other means of communication. Staff are likely to be very busy over this period so would ask for patience.

What if my loved one has symptoms of Covid-19 whilst in the home?

If any resident presents with symptoms of the virus they will be treated appropriately. As per guidance they will be placed in isolation and given medication to relieve their symptoms. Staff will monitor them closely and will escalate their care if the need arises. At all stages staff will keep you informed of your loved one’s condition.

How do I take my relative out of the home to live with me during this period?

Where a family wishes to remove a resident from your care for a period, this must be discussed with the care manager in the first instance.

We're bringing you all the latest guidance on Covid 19 for the independent health care sector