24th March 2020

Visiting Care Homes

Visiting Care Homes

CQC's response to member queries raised by NCA on behalf of our members

Public Health England has issued guidance on how care homes can minimise the risks of transmission. This states:

To minimise the risk of transmission, care home providers are advised to review their visiting policy, by asking no one to visit who has suspected COVID-19 or is generally unwell, and by emphasising good hand hygiene for visitors. Contractors on site should be kept to a minimum. The review should also consider the wellbeing of residents, and the positive impact of seeing friends and family

In considering the wellbeing of people living in care homes, we cannot underestimate the benefits of contact with friends and families. Decisions to restrict visitors must be proportionate to the risk posed to people, staff and visitors.

Where any visiting restrictions are in place providers must support people to maintain connectivity with their friends and families.

Friends and families will understandably want to be kept informed about their loved one’s wellbeing. It is important that any restrictions discussed with and communicated to people and their loved ones in a timely and accessible way. Communications should include information about how people can maintain contact with their friends and relatives in the absence of face to face visits.

Other methods of maintaining contact should be considered. These could include, but are not limited to:

  • Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media phone calls
  • video calling, (relatives may wish to provide mobile phones, laptops or tables to enable this)
  • supporting people to see their relatives outside of the home environment, in the garden of the service for example or local open space. Consideration will need to be given to current government guidance on social distancing.


The process of issuing reports on inspections we have conducted will continue. We have a duty to publish reports following our inspection. As you are aware we have paused our inspections now but will continue to respond to risk.

Reduced Staff, Training and Volunteers
CQC inspectors will be reasonable and proportionate in their approach. CQC does have guidance and in an 'emergency' staff and volunteers can be deployed on just an adult first check (page15 of this guidance) which is usually returned very quickly.

In terms of training, we recognise that at this time providers will be prioritising providing care to people and that this may mean that training will interrupted. However, providers should make every effort to ensure that staff and volunteers are competent, confident and skilled in providing safe care to the people using their service.

Thank you for sharing your concerns about the impact of self-isolation of staff on care services. We know staffing levels are a great concern. We never advise on absolute staffing numbers in any sector, but we can talk to providers about their concerns and offer advice. Where we are making decisions that affect the entire sector, we will communicate with providers — as we have been doing — to make sure everyone is updated at the same time.