Guidance for the resumption of family and social visits at The New Deanery Care Home during the coronavirus pandemic


Having taken the difficult but necessary decision in early March to prohibit all non-essential visitors, Sonnet Care Homes fully recognises how difficult the past few months have been for residents, and their family and friends. We are therefore pleased to confirm that family and social visits to care homes can recommence, all be it carefully and with significant infection control measures in place.

We would make it clear from the outset that, in order to keep everyone safe, visiting will look and feel very different from the pre-Covid-19 days, and that this is likely to be the case for many months to come. That said, we remain extremely grateful for peoples compliance with the lockdown, and we have every confidence that all of our residents and their loved ones will be equally compliant with these new visiting arrangements.

Please be assured that, whilst visiting has had to recommence in a highly managed and restricted way, we undertake to further ease measures gradually as and when we are advised that it is safe to do so.

Equally, in the event of any suspected or actual outbreak of Covid-19, or a suspected or known case of Covid-19 within either St Mary’s Court or The New Deanery Care Home, full lockdown measures will need to be re-imposed immediately and without prior notice.

We will also pay close attention to the prevalence of coronavirus in the local area, and if incidences of Covid-19, and/or additional societal lockdown measures are imposed, we will also have to consider a return to full lockdown of the care homes.

In any event we promise that, although we may on occasion need to act quickly to ensure safety, we will always notify people and share all relevant information as soon as we possibly can.

If you have any comments, concerns or suggestions at any time, please do not hesitate to contact us. We know you appreciate that we are all in this together with the single aim of keeping people safe and well.

Visiting protocols during coronavirus pandemic

These visiting protocols are intended to compliment and not replace all the great work that the team are doing in facilitating virtual visits using Skype and Facetime.

We have introduced various carefully managed ways of visiting to ensure that all residents have the opportunity to receive visits, regardless of their personal circumstances and abilities.

For all types of visit, the protocols may be summarised as follows:

  • With the exception of screened areas (see Types of Visit), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be required when within 2 metres of any resident or member of the team. The type of PPE will vary dependent upon the type of visit, but it will always be provided by Sonnet Care Homes on arrival. The main reason for us insisting that we provide the PPE is to maintain control over efficacy and storage, and to ensure it is single use
  • On arrival all visitors will be asked to use antibacterial hand gel and, if entering any area of the home, will be required to wash their hands thoroughly before and after putting on and removing PPE
  • Visitors will be asked a series of screening questions to confirm their Covid-19 and travel status
  • We will check visitor temperatures on arrival
  • We reserve the right to stop the visit if either a potential visitors health on the day, or their answers to the screening questions, give us cause for concern
  • We will agree a person-centred individual care plan for visits for each resident
  • The reception areas in both homes now have Perspex screens installed and the visitors electronic signing in book is located behind these screens. A member of the team will therefore need to sign visitors in and out. In order to comply with test and trace guidance, it is essential that visitor details are recorded
  • All visits will be appointment based and time limited
  • The number of visitors will be restricted to a maximum of two people per resident, and preferably one person who will be the same person who visits each time
  • Regrettably, it will not be possible to just turn up and visit a resident. This is because we must:
    • carefully manage the number of visitors on site at any one time
    • ensure that we have sufficient team members to support each visit safely
  • Regrettably, we will not be able to offer any drinks or refreshments to visitors and we are asking visitors not to offer drinks or refreshments to residents during visits. We can however provide residents with drinks and refreshments during the visit if needed

Types of Visit 

Visits may occur in a number of ways as follows:

  • Window visits: This will need safe, ground floor window access for both residents and their visitors. Social distancing and PPE measures will need to be observed, and residents and visitors must not touch each other through open windows/doors
  • Garden visits: PPE measures and social distancing will apply. Only garden areas that are visible and can be accessed without entering either home, can be used for garden visiting. Seating will be arranged prior to the visit and thoroughly cleaned between use
  • Drive through visits: Visits whereby visitors remain in their vehicles can be facilitated in the car parks of both homes. Social distancing and PPE measures will need to be observed, and residents and visitors must not touch each other through open windows/doors. The precise location of drive through visits will be advised in advance. Younger children will be restricted to drive through visits only
  • Designated areas within each home have been prepared for indoor visits:

Perspex screens have been installed in a designated visitor room in each home.  These rooms are ideally suited for maintaining a safe environment for visiting as there are two entry doors, one on either side of the Perspex screen.  Visitors will access via an external door to avoid having to walk through the homes, whilst the resident will enter through an internal door. On the visitor side, screens and all hard surfaces will be thoroughly cleaned between each visit, including seating which will be available on either side of the screen

  • In-room visits:

Whilst we need to keep this type of visit to a minimum, for residents who are unable to leave their rooms we are able to facilitate room visits. These visits will be restricted to 15 minutes duration. PPE must be worn, and social distancing requirements apply. The visitor will be escorted to the residents bedroom by the most direct route. All hard surfaces will be thoroughly cleaned following each visit


Visitor code

Visitors must please:

  • Contact the home’s Administrator to book visits in advance for a specific date, time, and duration
  • Check with the home on the day prior to their visit to ensure that circumstances have not changed and the visit can go ahead
  • Be free of any Covid-19 symptoms on the day of their visit and for at least 14 days previously
  • Not be unwell on the day of the visit
  • Provide the necessary information in response to screening questions about Covid-19 risk factors, including being able to confirm that they have not had close contact with anybody who has had symptoms or a confirmed case of Covid-19 within the past 14 days, plus details of any recent travel overseas
  • Comply with all infection prevention and control measures, including a temperature test, hand hygiene, the use of PPE, social distancing requirements, and remaining in the designated visiting area
  • Ensure that any items bought in for the resident they are visiting can be sanitised
  • Note that all items bought in will need to be stored for 72 hours before they are given to the resident
  • Avoid travelling to the homes via public transport and taxis. If this is unavoidable, please wear a PPE face mask at all times during the journey, bring a change of clothes, and advise the care home team on arrival
  • Let us know immediately if, at any time during the visit, there is any breach of either PPE or social distancing requirements. Mistakes happen, but if we know about them we can at least take action to minimise the risk of viral transmission


My Visiting Plan

In consultation with the resident and their potential visitors, as appropriate, the team has developed an individual visiting plan for each resident.

The plan takes account of individual support needs, preferences, and abilities.

The plan describes the type and frequency of visits specific to each resident.

The names and any special circumstances of the agreed visitor(s) are included in the plan.


Rights and responsibilities

Below is a set of rights and responsibilities for both Sonnet Care Homes and visitors which aim to put the welfare and wellbeing of residents at the heart of our visiting arrangements during the pandemic.


Sonnet Care Homes have the right to: Visitors have the right to:
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 published visiting arrangements

Access care homes in accordance with the entry requirements set out Sonnet Care Homes visiting arrangements
Consider increased visitor restrictions when an outbreak (including non-Covid-19) occurs within the homes, or declared outbreaks / clusters have occurred within the home’s local area. Such circumstances will be closely monitored. 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 limited number of in-person visits.


Sonnet Care Homes have a responsibility to: Visitors have a responsibility to:
Provide a clear policy and information on how they will facilitate visitors, making this publicly available as needed. Follow the home’s visiting protocols and Visitor Code, including booking in advance.
Provide clear information about how the visit will work and the infection and prevention control measures that must be followed. Not to visit when unwell or displaying any signs of a cold/flu, respiratory or Covid-19 symptoms.
Appropriately support the care home team in order to facilitate visits including written processes and procedures. Respond truthfully to Covid-19 screening questions asked by the home’s team and to sign the completed screening question sheet.
Treat all visitors with respect and courtesy, and to provide clear instructions about the visiting policy. Treat all team members with respect and courtesy, and to follow their instructions on the visitor policy.
Proactive communication with residents and families where an outbreak occurs, and the impact on the visiting policy. 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 team – and that failure to do so may affect the future ability to visit.