Care home visiting restrictions eased in Northern Ireland

Up to four people from no more than two households will now be able to visit care homes together.

Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed an easing of care home visiting restrictions, taking effect from Wednesday. The arrangements for care home visiting are set out in the Department of Health’s 'Visiting With Care – A Pathway' document, originally issued in May 2021. The Health Minister said: “Following the latest review, the restrictions on visiting in care homes have moved into the 'Gradual Easing' phase as set out in the 'Visiting With Care - A Pathway' document.

"The main change will see an increase in the frequency of visits permitted and in the number of people permitted to visit care homes at the same time.

"Up to four people from no more than two households will now be able to visit together, with a maximum of four such visits per week being allowed.” In addition, further clarity has been provided around visits from clergy, and further advice added around how residents can be facilitated to leave their care home to go about normal business. The easements to restrictions may not fully apply if the care home has an active Covid-19 outbreak. While welcoming this easement in the visiting restrictions faced by care home residents, the Minister emphasised: “Sadly, COVID-19 remains very much with us. I strongly encourage everyone to continue to practice effective Infection Prevention & Control standards and make use of the widely available lateral flow testing.” He continued: “Everyone should also take full advantage of the vaccination programmes, including flu jabs and the Covid vaccine booster where eligible, to keep care home residents and everyone else as safe as possible.” The Care Partner scheme is not affected by this change. The access arrangements facilitated under the Care Partner scheme should continue as appropriate.