Visiting nursing homes and residential care facilities

It’s important for residents in a nursing home or residential care facility to have regular visits from the people who are most important to them.

Residents can choose 1 person who can spend more time with them (nominated support person). A nominated support person can normally have visiting access for most of the day.

But residents can have visits from other people too. Up to 2 people can visit at a time in most cases. They can be different people each time or the same people all the time. The resident will decide who they want to see.

The nursing home or residential care facility can give you up-to-date information about visiting.


Your visit will be safer for everyone if you have had your first round of COVID-19 vaccine and your booster dose, if it is available to you. But you do not need to show proof of vaccination or immunity before your visit.

When you should not visit

Do not visit a nursing home or residential care facility if you have:

  • COVID-19
  • recently been tested for COVID-19 - wait until you are told it is safe for you to visit
  • symptoms of COVID-19 or any other infection, including a cold or flu
  • a stomach bug (gastroenteritis)

Symptoms of stomach bugs include diarrhoea and vomiting. If you have symptoms of a stomach bug, do not visit until you have no symptoms for at least 2 days.

If you have COVID-19, do not visit until your self-isolation period is over.

If there is a COVID-19 outbreak

Visiting will usually be limited if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in the care home. These limits should be reasonable and in place for as short a time as possible. Residents should still be able to see their nominated support person.

Staff can make allowances for the resident’s needs. For example, if someone is coming to the end of their life. A resident should not be alone in this case if someone can be with them.

There may be other times when residents need support. You can discuss exceptions with the staff. 

Before your visit

Talk to the staff before your visit so they can:

  • note your contact details
  • explain the precautions to follow when you visit

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

During your visit

Before you enter the nursing home or residential care facility, staff will ask you if you have symptoms of COVID-19.

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

You must wear a face mask when you are in communal areas.

If the resident prefers, you do not need to wear a face mask when you are alone together. This is safer if you both have had your first round of COVID-19 vaccine and your booster dose.

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

Going for a drive

It's usually OK for residents to go for a drive with their visitors.

If you are leaving the car, be sure to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Outdoor visiting

Outdoor visiting is OK even in an outbreak if:

  • staff can organise the visit - they need to be arranged in advance
  • the resident is OK to go outside
  • everyone can keep 1 metre apart at all times
  • the weather is suitable

Window visiting

Window visiting is where a visitor stands outside and speaks to a resident at a safe distance through an open window or by telephone. 

Window visiting cannot take the place of proper visits but it is always OK.

Contact the staff if you want to arrange a window visit.

Last updated: 14 February 2022 at 4.30pm