During the community spread of COVID-19 we want to do all that we can to keep our residents and staff safe. We want to enable Care home visiting wherever it is possible to do this safely, we will also follow local and national guidance in relation to care home visiting. Visitors and family members also have an important role to play – helping to keep their loved ones safe by carefully following this policy, and the practical guidance given before visiting and when at Bedford Charter House (BCH).

Objective and Scope

This policy aims to mitigate the risks of enabling visits to take place in BCH during the community spread of COVID-19. It applies to all residents and their visitors. A personalised approach tailored to each resident will be described in their visiting care plan.

We will use a dynamic risk assessment approach to help to facilitate residents having visits at BCH. This may mean that we change our approach from time to time depending upon the assessed risks. We will also seek to mitigate risks of the spread of infection by ensuring hand hygiene and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE - which means disposable face masks, aprons and gloves) by any visitors to BCH.


In the face of new variants of the virus, we still need to be cautious to ensure we protect those most at risk in BCH while ensuring indoor visits can go ahead. While the vaccine is bringing much needed hope and protection, until more is known about its impact on transmission, residents and visitors should continue to adhere to all the infection control measures that are in place in BCH.

Policy Statement

Welcoming anyone into Charter House (BCH) from the community inevitably brings risk of COVID-19 transmission. However, these risks can be managed and mitigated, and they should be balanced against the importance of visiting and the benefits it brings to care home residents and their families and friends.


The types of visiting that can take place at BCH are:

Window visits: where there is safe ground floor window access for both residents and their visitors (ground floor rooms which do not face the enclosed garden). Social distancing should be observed and face masks should be worn by visitors. Maximum 2 visitors at any one time. This reduces the number of people residents come into contact with.


Designated indoor safe visiting areas we have identified a location inside the care home which can be accessed externally which has been designed as an indoor safe visiting space and has a floor to ceiling screen. Maximum 2 visitors at any one time. This reduces the number of people residents come into contact with and prevents visitor journeys through the residential areas.

This space has:

  • Good ventilation

  • A screen between residents and their visitors this should remain closed during the visit

  • Enough space for a socially distanced visit to take place by two visitors

  • Accessibility for residents

This space is indicated in yellow on the map.

CVP Inside.png

Garden Visits

We have identified a small section of the care home garden which can be accessed externally which is a reserved outdoor visiting space. Maximum 2 visitors at any one time This reduces the number of people residents come into contact with and prevents visitor journeys through the residential areas.

This space has:

  • An outdoor location and so is well ventilated

  • A shelter for residents (from sun and drizzle)

  • Enough space for a socially distanced visit to take place by two visitors

  • Accessibility for residents

This space is indicated with yellow on the map

CVP Outside.png

In-room visits: indoor visiting by a ‘single named visitor’ for every resident. These visitors will need to take a rapid lateral flow test and test negative before every visit. They should minimise physical contact with residents. They must observe social distancing and PPE use, and follow all necessary infection control measures. We will ask ask each resident who they would like to nominate as their single named visitor. Where the resident lacks the capacity to make this decision, we will discuss the situation with the resident’s family, friends and others who may usually have visited the resident. There will be a simple booking system to enable visits. Ad hoc or unannounced visits will not be possible.

Testing prior to in room visits can only take place if:

  • You book an appointment for a test

  • You agree to follow the guidelines for testing and observe social distancing whist waiting for results

  • Visitors always wear PPE when inside the home

  • No visit take place after a positive or inconclusive test result

Essential care givers visits

Some residents may have care and support needs that mean some caring tasks cannot easily be provided by a member of staff (or not without causing substantial distress). This could include intimate care such as help with washing and dressing where the resident becomes distressed unless it is carried out by a familiar loved one. There may also be some situations where it is not the close contact per se, but the presence or company of the visitor that is critical to provide emotional and mental support. For example, a resident’s refusal to eat unless they do so in the company of a partner or loved one may be presenting a real risk of significant physical deterioration.

In such cases, in addition to the single named visitor a visitor will be enabled and supported to provide this care and they will be able to visit more often. They will have need to carry out the same PCR and rapid lateral flow testing and PPE arrangements as a member of care home staff.

Exceptional circumstances such as end of life

End-of-life care (for residents in care homes) means early identification of those who are in their last year of life and offering them the support to live as well as possible and to then die with dignity. A doctor usually decides if a person is at this stage. These visits will continue if the home is closed due to an outbreak.

Number of visitors and appointments

Each resident will have a visiting plan as part of their care plan which will summarize who will be visiting them as part of our COVID-19 visiting policy.

The number of visitors for each type of visit is summarized below:

Residents and their families and friends will need to agree who the visitors will be; this will form part of their care plan. Children under 10 who cannot understand social distancing would not be allowed to visit.


Visits will need to be booked in advance for a specific day, time and length of visit, to enable visiting to be re-established and to ensure that the visiting provision is fairly allocated amongst residents. Visitors should not over booked visiting slots and should be aware that testing appointments and visiting space slots are limited and others will want to use them.


BCHA has a Responsible Visitor Code' which sets out a range of responsibilities that any visitors must abide by prior to and during any visit. The code states that visitors must:

  • Book visits in advance for a specific day, time and length of visit both garden and in door safe visiting space will need to be booked in advance. It may not be possible to change a visit to the indoor safe visiting space if the weather is inclement.

  • Check the visiting status of Charter House on the day prior to their visit, to ensure the situation has not changed, this should be done by visiting BCHA’s website, there will be a notification on the home page. o Be free of any COVID-19 symptoms on the day of their visit.

  • Not be unwell on the day of their visit.

  • Not attend if they have been contacted by track and trace and asked to self-isolate

  • Provide the necessary information required by BCHA at the visit (e.g. honest response to screening requirements about COVID-19 risk factors)

  • Comply with the infection prevention and control measures, including mandatory hand hygiene, the use of PPE as required and social distancing requirements, and remaining in the designated visiting area.

  • Comply with social distancing and refrain from physical contact

  • Use wipes to clean and sanitize surfaces they touch indoors.

  • Ensure that any gifts brought to give to the individual they are visiting can be sanitized, in line with relevant infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance.. o Visitors should walk or travel by car and avoid public transport when visiting the home.

  • Ensure the safety of other residents by avoiding the areas where other residents are and ensuring that any access points are secure when leaving. o Follow the local and national guidance in place at the time of their visit.

In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in BCH


In the event of an outbreak in BCH we will immediately stop visiting (except in exceptional circumstances such as end of life) to protect vulnerable residents, staff and visitors. Essential care givers can continue to visit unless there are specific reasons not to do so.


There may be local policy and outbreak management arrangements, which will be important to follow. These restrictions should continue until the outbreak is confirmed as over, which will be at least 28 days after the last laboratory confirmed or clinically suspected cases were identified in a resident or member of staff in the home. At that point visiting may resume with the usual infection prevention and control measures and any enhancements required due to any risks identified following the recent outbreak.

An outbreak is 2 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 or clinically suspected cases of COVID-19 among individuals associated with a specific setting with onset dates within 14 days. This will be implemented in a transparent manner with open and clear communication to residents and relevant family members. A traffic light system will be used to identify the visiting status of the home on our web site. All visitors are asked to follow the system and not come to the home or request visits when they have been suspended. (This may exclude essential / end of life visits which will endeavor to facilitate where a decline in health is noted and we are able to notify family of this)

COVID-19 Visitors Policy Table.PNG
COVID-19 Visitors.PNG


This policy sets out the responsibilities Charter House and visitors which put the welfare and wellbeing of our residents at the heart of the approach to giving access to visiting.


  • Access care homes in accordance with the entry requirements set out in this visiting policy. Adhering to the consistency and maximum number of visitors.

  • Be notified by timely and regular updates and information about what is happening in the home, in relation to visiting and local COVID-19 prevalence and transmission risk.

  • Be provided and supported with additional ways to connect such as video conference or telephone calls in addition to a socially distanced in person visits using the indoor safe visiting space or garden visiting space.

  • Follow the home's visiting policy and Visitor Code, including booking in advance, undertaking testing, observing social distancing and wearing PPE.

  • Not to visit when unwell or displaying any signs of a cold/flu, respiratory or COVID-19 symptoms. Respond truthfully to COVID-19s screening questions asked by the home's staff and to sign the visitor book.

  • Not to visit if they have been contacted by track and trace and asked to self-isolate.

  • Treat all staff with respect and courtesy, and to follow their instructions.

  • Be aware of the needs of other residents, their need to feel safe and the security of the whole site.

  • Follow visiting requirements including, infection and prevention control measures such as washing hands, use of visiting windows, remaining designated areas and social distancing requirements – as directed by the care home staff – and that failure to do so may affect the future ability to visit.

Charter House

  • To assess the level of risk and determine the status of visiting. The visiting status will be communicated via the website.

  • Mitigate risk of infection by refusing entry to their home to anyone, or requesting that a person leave the premises, for any justifiable reason consistent with this policy.

  • Consider increased visitor restrictions when an outbreak (including non- COVID-19) occurs within the home, or declared outbreak / clusters have occurred within the home's local area or if there are other extraordinary circumstances that require it, and usage of such circumstances will be closely monitored.

  • Provide a clear policy and information on how they will facilitate visitors, using a dynamic risk-based approach, and make this publicly available as needed.

  • Provide clear information about how the visit will work and the infection and prevention control measures that must be followed.

  • Appropriately support staff in order to facilitate visits including written processes and procedures.

  • Treat all visitors with respect and courtesy, and to provide clear instructions about the visiting policy. 

  • Proactive communication with residents and families where an outbreak occurs, and the impact on the visiting policy.