Updated 11th March 2021
Rules around hospital visiting during the COVID-19 outbreak were updated, following guidance issued by Welsh Government, on the 30 November 2020.
Visiting to hospitals throughout Wales remains restricted. This is to protect the health and safety of our staff, patients and service users, and continue to support social distancing at all health board sites.
Guidance from Welsh Government is that visits should be agreed with a clear purpose, based on the best interests of the patient or service user, as well as the well-being of the visitor. We also need to keep our staff safe. This means visiting is not common place, and only by exception. All visitors will require an individual risk assessment to be completed ideally in advance of an agreed visit, in order to keep staff, patient and visitors safe.
Visiting, with agreement from the ward sister/charge nurse/nurse in charge, will be granted in exceptional circumstances only and in advance of the visit.
Infection prevention control procedures are in place and visitors will be made aware of the risks and advised of the measures they will need to undertake before, during, and after their visit. Including the use of any personal protective equipment, hand washing, physical distancing, not bringing food etc. Visitors must wear facemasks and not face coverings. As a health board we expect our visitors to work with us as partners to maintain the safety of our patients and respect the measures that we ask of them to follow. At any time visiting may be ended to maintain safety.
Within non-COVID-19 areas and services
- One parent, guardian, or carer at the bedside at a time for paediatric inpatients and neonates.
- Patients who are critical/in the last days of their life - this can be up to two visitors at a time, for a specified amount of time, from the same household or part of an extended household. If not from the same household or not part of an extended household they should visit the bedside separately and maintain distance outside of the clinical area.
- An essential support assistant and one birthing partner for women in active labour, preferably from the same household or part of an extended household.
- In general, one visitor at a time for a patient with mental health needs, dementia, learning disability or cognitive impairment, where lack of visiting would cause distress or it is required as a reasonable adjustment to support access to health assessment or intervention. However the number and frequency of visitors should be considered on an individual basis in light of the patient’s/service user’s needs, care plan and in consultation with their support staff or carer.
- Children and young people may visit a parent, guardian, carer or sibling in a healthcare setting and should be accompanied by one appropriate adult.
- People with long term conditions which necessitate increased length of stay in a healthcare setting or people with specific care and well-being needs that the visitor/carer actively contributes to, for example, feeding, supporting communication needs and supporting rehabilitation. The health and well-being of these patients may benefit from seeing appropriate visitors, as their length of stay is over many weeks. This should be documented in their care plan.
In COVID-19 confirmed and possible infectious areas
- End of life COVID-19 patients may receive visitors during their last days of life, if permission is sought in advance from the ward sister/charge nurse/nurse in charge. This may be up to two visitors, one at the bedside at a time, for a specified amount of time, preferably from the same household or part of an extended household.
- People who were formerly shielding or who are otherwise at increased risk from the virus (please see WG for criteria), should avoid hospital visits wherever possible. Where a hospital visit is deemed essential, for example to visit a loved one in the last days of life, hospitals should provide medical masks.
Visitor access for partners and visitors of pregnant women in Welsh maternity services and neonatal services
- One birthing partner/nominated other to provide support to women who are attending Early Pregnancy Assessment and Fetal Medicine ultrasound scans.
- One birthing partner for women in active labour, preferably from the same household or part of an extended household.
- One birthing partner/nominated other to provide support to women who are attending for an early pregnancy-dating scan (11 weeks + 2 days - 14 weeks +1 day gestation).
- One birthing partner/nominated other to provide support to women who are attending a fetal anomaly scan (18-20 weeks gestation).
Visitor access for neonatal services
- Both parents can be partners in their babies care.
- No other visitors are permitted in the Neonatal Units, including siblings.
- Parents are asked to attend the unit one at a time to assist with social distancing.
- Any parents who have COVID symptoms or have tested positive for COVID cannot visit and are required to follow the quarantine guidelines.
- In cases of bereavement /discontinuing intensive care, safe practices are put in place to allow the family to be together.
Please be mindful that anyone could have an infectious disease. All permitted visitors must comply with infection prevention precautions at all times. This includes washing hands (supervised) on arriving and leaving the area.
It is important that all visitors have agreement from the ward sister/charge nurse/nurse in charge before travelling for each visit. The risk assessment will ideally be completed in advance of the visit. The ward manager/ nurse in charge will run through the attached checklist when discussing potential visiting and again in person if visiting permission has been given. The visitor will be asked to sign that they have understood and will comply as described. Both documents will be filed with the patients notes.
The Health Board encourages family and friends of patients under our care to consider alternative ways of keeping in touch. This includes the use of our hospitals’ free WiFi to use FaceTime or video calling. We can help facilitate to make this happen.
You can also keep in touch with friends or relatives in hospitals using the Letter to Loved Ones service.
Our Patient Advice and Liaison Support Service (PALS) is here to help you. Our PALS Officers will do their best to resolve issues quickly and directly with the staff concerned. If you have an enquiry about visiting restrictions or a concern about a friend or relative who has been admitted, please contact PALS (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday except Bank holidays).