EXCLUSIVE: Blanket bans on care home visits ‘unacceptable’ and may trigger inspection, CQC warns

kate Terroni II

The Care Quality Commission has warned that it may inspect any care home that imposes “unacceptable” blanket bans on visiting.

The warning signals a hardening of the CQC’s position on care homes imposing blanket visiting bans where there is no active coronavirus outbreak and follows a call from MPs to end this practice.

Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at CQC, told Care Home Professional: “Blanket bans, where there is no active outbreak, are unacceptable and people should follow government guidelines, give sufficient weight to local risks and advice from their Director of Public Health as well as giving consideration to the home environment. The individual must be at the centre of the decision. All decisions need to stay under review as circumstances change. Where CQC are aware of blanket visiting bans in homes with no outbreaks, this may trigger an inspection.

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“We recognise that many people will have had a terrible time, being unable to visit and spend important time with their loved ones for many months, and how this has had a significant impact on mental health and well-being of people in care services and their families. When thinking about visiting, for those entering care homes and those leaving to visit other places, providers must start with a focus on the individual and how their needs will be met.”

She added: “The majority of providers are continuing to do extraordinary work, even when faced with workforce shortages, increased testing and the roll out of a national vaccination program. However, we are aware that in some places blanket decisions are continuing to be made against government guidance. Where decisions are being made, whether that is for visiting, testing or vaccination, the focus must always be on the individual needs of the person.

“Person centred care has never been more important and recognising that part of people’s identity and wellbeing comes from their relationships is critical. Meeting people’s holistic needs means an individualised approach. The distress caused by not having important relationships well maintained can be as devastating to mental health as when physical health is not attended to – both need to be a priority.”

In a letter sent to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care earlier this month, the Joint Committee on Human Rights highlighted the impact of a long lockdown on those in care homes, hospitals and prisons.

The letter states: “As we set out in our report last year, blanket visiting bans are contrary to the rights of both patients and their families under the European Convention on Human Rights, the Code of Practice to the Mental Health Act 1983, and NHS England guidance.

“Failure to adopt an individualised approach to the safety of visits risks breaching the right of patients, residents and their families to family life (Article 8 ECHR).”

The letter follows the committee’s hearing of evidence from care home relatives who expressed the severe emotional toll that separation had caused them and their loved ones.

Alexis Quinn, who represents Rightful Lives and is an autistic woman who has experience of being in mental health detention, said: “It can literally be the difference between having the will to live and wanting to give up. It can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, so to speak.”

Tags : CQCKate TerroniRegulationvisiting bans
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke


  1. Care providers are trying to juggle rising costs, falling occupancy, continuing inadequate care fee income, staff shortages, encouraging sometimes reluctant staff to have vaccinations, having to use inaccurate lateral flow test equipment, all amid a pandemic with still terribly high levels of death and community transmission and on top of all this, CQC’s support amounts to threats over care home visiting. Nice, NOT !!!

    1. Michael have you got a relative in a care home who you haven’t held hands with or hugged for nearly a year? My dad died in a care home after having not seen him for 8 weeks, he died alone. My mum has been on her own grieving for her husband of nearly 60 years, without her daughter, son, grandchildren and great grandchildren. How do we grieve without someone to hold especially family. All I wanted when my dad passes away was my mum, was I able to hold her comfort her NO. I’m sorry but care homes charge enough. No risk assessment nothing except covid in the home not brought in by me or any one of my mums relatives. Has to stop my mum needs us and we need her.

    2. People are dying without contact with their relatives. I get that the care system is under pressure, but we’re talking about people’s lives and families. There are elderly people who haven’t been hugged by relatives in a whole year. It’s not their fault that the care system is overwhelmed. This is necessary.

    3. That’s all part and parcel of what people sign up to in care. Well care homes shouldent do blanket bans then should they. My mums deteriated big time because she is left in her room isolated. Sooner the goverment put it in law to allow visits during pandemic the better, then care homes can’t do nothing about it. They doing what they want with residents without family there. We can’t Evan do video calls because the staff can’t keep her comfy. So we hardly do video calls! So yeah sooner they open the better. It ain’t the familys spreading it in care homes because we take precautions unlike some staff that don’t care. The likes that refuse the vaccine, if don’t have vaccine It should be law so if don’t have it OK, go find another job. Plenty of people that want a job that will have vaccine. All I hear is care homes moaning about to much work. Yas have it easier now then ever!

  2. Yes Michael and it’s NOT nice being on the other end of it either!!
    I have not seen my 89 year old mum except through a window for nearly a year now. It is against her human rights to a family life! She caught Covid in the care home and luckily survived it! Unfortunately 14 others didn’t!
    The care home has had Covid outbreaks since October continuously( except for 6 days in December) it is certainly not visitors taking it in! Mum has her first vaccination
    I am 64 and Shielding, don’t see young children. I consider myself less risk to my mum than many of the young carers? Don’t get me wrong I have no complaints about the care, it’s the management.
    They have a perfectly good visiting room which is compliant with government guidelines, but the home won’t use it due to Covid outbreaks! Public Health apparently prevent this. My mum has been isolated in her room for 4×14 days now. This has had detrimental affects on her mild dementia/ mental health and on her mobility/ physical health.
    It’s disgusting how the elderly people in this country are being treated. The government might think they are throwing a protective ring around them to protect against Covid! But they are affecting care home residents human rights to a family life and making them isolated and lonely.
    Not a quality of life you would want Michael??
    Especially when you’re paying £1000 per week for the privilege of being a prisoner, having done nothing wrong??

  3. In response w to the above comment. Why can’t essential family keyworkers be allowed in. I have had my vaccine and do 2 lateral flow tests per week. I am safer if not more than most carers as desperate to see ny Mother. This would nit only beneditvthe home by taking the workload away from staff but mostly beneficial to my poor mother. I have been allowed in on 3 occasions when she has been admitted to hospital and no one has come to any harm. As long as relevant procedures are followed and I enter her room only, where if any is the danger?

  4. I completeky agree -instead of working with us it seems to me that each month CQC adopts an ever more threatening approach.
    They need to recognise that our responsibilities are getting ever more difficult to fulfill and help and support

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