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Visiting nursing homes and residential care facilities

Residents at nursing homes and residential care facilities can have 1 visit by 1 person every 2 weeks. This is on compassionate grounds under level 5 restrictions.

COVID-19 (coronavirus) can spread quickly and can do a lot of harm if it gets into a nursing home or a long-term residential care facility (LTRCF).

You can spread the virus even if you have mild symptoms or have no symptoms and otherwise feel well.

If you have recently arrived into Ireland from Britain or South Africa, do not visit nursing homes or residential care facilities until you have completed your 14 days of self-isolation.


Nursing home and residential care residents may receive:

  • 1 visit by 1 person per week under Levels 3 and 4 of restrictions
  • 1 visit by 1 person every 2 weeks under Level 5 – this is for compassionate or critical grounds only

Ireland is at level 5 restrictions.

Visits should be limited to 1 hour. The visit does not need to be by the same person each time.

It is up to the resident if they wish to have visitors or not.

Talk to the staff if you need a longer visit for compassionate reasons, such as end of life. In these circumstances, more visitor may be allowed.

Follow the advice below on how to help keep everyone safe before and during your visit.

Critical and compassionate visits

Extra visits will be accommodated under critical and compassionate circumstances, which may include:

  • end of life
  • if a resident is very distressed or disturbed and a visit from someone close to them might help to calm them down
  • when there is an exceptionally important life event for the resident
  • when you may not have another opportunity to visit for many months or years for example, because you are leaving the country or are approaching end of life
  • if a resident needs to see someone to make financial or other arrangements or to advocate on their behalf

Outdoor visiting

Outdoor visiting is allowed. This is as long as everyone can keep 2 metres apart (social distance) at all times and it is okay for the resident to go outside. Outdoor visits must be arranged in advance.

Window visiting

Window visiting is always allowed. This is where a person stands outside and speaks to a person at a safe distance through an open window or by telephone. Window visits must be arranged in advance.

Before you visit

The nursing home or facility will usually ask for contact details for named visitors before the visit.

Talk to the staff before your visit. They will usually give you a specific time slot. You will have to come and leave at the agreed times.

You will be asked some questions before you visit to make sure you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19. You might need to have your temperature taken before you enter the facility.

The management of the facility has the right to decide if visiting is possible or not. It can be distressing if you cannot visit someone. Any restrictions are only in place to keep you, the residents and healthcare staff safe.

Sometimes residents may have to leave with a visitor if they have something very important they need to do. It may be a very important personal need, such as something related to a family death or a visit to a family grave. When this is needed there will be a plan to do this as safely as possible. This is for the safety of the resident and for all the other residents.

Read about minding your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During your visit

You will have to wear a face covering or face mask during your visit.

Even when you are alone together and 2 metres apart, you should continue to wear a face covering.

In some circumstances, you may need to remove the mask if wearing one:

  • makes it harder for you and the person you are visiting to communicate
  • means the person you are visiting may not be able to recognise you
  • may upset the person you are visiting

If you find it difficult to wear a face covering, it's OK to wear a full face visor or face shield instead. They are not as effective as a face covering. Wearing one may not fully protect you and your loved one, but you'll still get some level of protection.

You will still need to do all the other things to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Wash your hands properly before and after you enter the resident's area.

It's OK to bring a gift or anything else the person you're visiting may need.

If there is a COVID-19 outbreak

Visiting will usually be limited if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in the home or facility. Under level 5 restrictions, 1 visit every 2 weeks from 1 person will still be allowed.

There will be exceptions in special situations. For example, if someone is coming to the end of their life. You can discuss this with the staff.

When you should not visit

Do not visit if you have:

If you have any of these symptoms, wait until at least 2 days after any symptoms have gone before visiting.

If you are a close contact, you will need to wait until you have restricted your movements for 14 days.

If you have COVID-19 do not visit until your self-isolation period is over and you have no symptoms. If you are in doubt, check with your GP.

If you have been tested for COVID-19, do not visit until you are told that it is safe to do so.

Related topics

People at higher risk from COVID-19

Community support during the COVID-19 pandemic

Hospital service updates and visiting restrictions (COVID-19)

Last updated: 7 January 2020 at 8.50pm

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