Home Business Insights & Advice How hospitals have adapted visiting rules during Covid-19

How hospitals have adapted visiting rules during Covid-19

by John Saunders
23rd Nov 20 5:26 pm

Following the introduction of the second lock-down in the UK in October, many care homes and hospitals have reverted back to their no-visitor policy. The government has since announced a return to the tiered system after the second lock-down draws to a close in December, but ministers have hinted that tighter restrictions could be imposed across all tiers.

This means the likelihood of normal visiting resuming across care homes and hospitals is low. With cold and flu season beginning, hospital admissions are likely to increase, and many people might be wondering how they’re going to communicate with their loved ones if they get admitted to hospital.

Typically, hospitals encourage visiting patients, but amidst the covid-19 outbreak, this is not an option. That being said, there are ways to support inpatients and communicate with them during their admittance whilst still adhering to government guidelines.


The most obvious solution is to call the patient and communicate with them that way, but there are a number of reasons why this might not be possible. If the patient doesn’t have a mobile phone, wards can take phone calls and arrange communication with patients. Likewise, they can provide updates on care and the well being of the patient which is useful for families to know. This has always been the case and isn’t new, but they may be better prepared for it now that it’s the main way families are keeping in touch with their loved ones in hospital.

Since covid-19 hit, many hospitals have implemented video call facilities which is a more personal way of talking to someone in hospital. Many hospitals have introduced a booking system whereby patients have an allotted time to speak to their loved ones.

If the patient is unable to speak, nurses and doctors can facilitate holding the phone or playing a message so that the patient can hear familiar and comforting voices. This is something more hospitals are now equipped to deal with following the corona virus outbreak.


Phone calls aren’t for everyone, in which case old fashioned letters can suffice. Although it’s a longer route, it’s something many older people choose to do. If the patient is terminally ill, receiving palliative cancer treatment or other treatment, they may not be in a position to speak. If phone calls aren’t an option, sending in a story or a letter for the doctor, nurse or consultant to read to the patient can be comforting.

Personal items

Patients can sometimes experience extended stays in hospital, and in this case, it’s advisable to ensure they’re surrounded by as many home comforts as possible. If the admission happens rapidly, hospitals can take in care packages. They advise packing things like blankets, photo albums, pajamas and small items like books that might keep the patient occupied and more at ease.


Although the no-visitor rule is in place across most of the UK, there are exceptions. Birthing partners and new parents are mostly permitted to visit mother and baby, and parents of children receiving treatment for various illnesses may also be allowed into the hospital to visit. If patients are on end-of-life care, they might also be allowed visitors.

Exceptions are at the discretion of the hospital, and if visits are permitted, social distancing, face masks and sanitation are required in order to keep everyone safe.

Private healthcare settings may have different rules compared to the NHS.

The new visiting technology is by no means a replacement for face-to-face visits, but until a vaccine is approved and rolled out, virtual visits appear to be here to stay.


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