Visiting Arrangements – Effective from Friday 7 May

Following updated guidance from the Department of Health, the Trust visiting guidance will change effective from 7 May 2021.

Patients across hospitals in Northern Ireland will be able to benefit from a daily visit by one of two nominated people. All visiting is by appointment only and visitors must contact the Ward Nurse in charge to arrange the visit. Please be aware that wards will be experiencing high volume of calls and we would ask the public to be patient with staff. Visitors will be asked to give contact information for track and trace and adhere to all COVID-19 guidance.

Our first priority must continue to be to limit exposure to known Covid-19 therefore local decisions will be required regarding maintaining a COVID secure environment.

Virtual visiting is still the preference and will be accommodated.

Anyone showing or experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 or any other infection should not visit, even if these symptoms are mild and unconfirmed. Similarly, those who have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID should not visit.

In these circumstances the individual should remain at home and follow the latest public health advice on self-isolation and testing

General Hospital including ICU

One daily visit from one of two nominated individuals (from up to two households) can be permitted, where this can be accommodated within COVID secure environments. Prior arrangement with ward Nurse in charge is essential.

Where the person visiting requires assistance, they should inform the ward at the time of booking and discuss in advance with the nurse in charge.

Maternity

A chosen birth partner will be facilitated to accompany the pregnant woman to any pregnancy related appointments and ultrasound scans where the environment is COVID-19 secure.

Labour and Birth:

A chosen birth partner will be facilitated to accompany the pregnant woman for induction of labour, duration of labour and birth and, for up to three hours after the birth.

Inpatient Services:

One daily visit from one of two nominated individuals (from up to two households) can be permitted, where this can be accommodated within COVID secure environments.

Where the visitor requires assistance then no more than 1 additional person will be permitted to accompany them when this can be accommodated within social distancing guidance.

Visits to wards should be for a maximum duration of 1 hour.  Any exception to this must be agreed with the midwife in charge.

The time of this visit should be prearranged with the Maternity Ward, as timeslots will be necessary to ensure the environment remains COVID secure.

*Some controls may need to be put in place by staff if departments become congested, to ensure a COVID safe environment.

Paediatric and Neonatal

Any child admitted can be accompanied by two persons (either/both parents or two nominated caregivers from up to two households) at all times for the duration of the stay.

Mental Health and Learning Disability

One daily visit by one person out of two nominated people or more where deemed necessary to support the mental health and wellbeing of the patient.

Prior arrangement with ward staff is essential

Emergency Departments, X-Ray and Day Procedure Units

In order to maintain a COVID-19 secure environment and to prevent overcrowding one person can be facilitated to accompany the patient only where the patient is unable to understand or communicate with staff or is critically ill.

Outpatient departments (OPD)

One person only to be facilitated to accompany each patient where the environment is COVID secure

Cancer and renal unit

One person only to be facilitated to accompany each patient where the environment is COVID secure.

Care Homes

Where the home is not in an outbreak, visiting for residents should be arranged using well-ventilated designated rooms/visiting pods, with additional visiting arranged as outdoor visits, window visits and virtually supported visits.  Where visits can only take place in a resident’s own room, this should be arranged where this can be accommodated within social distancing.  End of life visiting can take place in a resident’s own room as agreed with the care home manager.  Please refer to Guidance for full details, including deciding the frequency/duration of visits, visiting in an outbreak situation, and care partner arrangements.

Since safe management of visiting remains crucial, it may be necessary to continue to restrict visiting times to certain periods within the day, so the timing and duration of visits should always be agreed with person in charge. If the two nominated individuals are not from the same household and social distancing cannot be maintained, such visits can take place separately

Alternatives, for example, outdoor visiting, virtual visits, should continue to be made available.

Guidelines

Any visitors permitted access must maintain social distancing of 2m, attend to good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Visitors, and those attending appointments, are also asked to wear their face covering at all times. No access will be permitted without a face covering.

Children under the age of 16 will not be permitted to visit hospitals. In the event of exceptional circumstances, this can be discussed with the person in charge.

Visitors should stay with the person they are visiting throughout the visit, minimising movement around the hospital/care home and maintaining social distancing from other patients/residents and staff to reduce risks of infection spread.

All visitors must adhere to hand hygiene on entering and leaving wards areas and the hospital site.

Virtual Visiting

The Trust has produced a helpful guide to assist you with virtual visits.

Information regarding Dropping off/picking up patient property

Details regarding Dropping off/picking up patient property.

Related Links

Regional Guidance: Visiting in Care Settings in Northern Ireland
Department of Health press release

1st March 2021

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