Visiting dying patients in our hospitals


End of life

During these difficult times, patients in hospital thought to be in the last week of life, either dying from Coronavirus (COVID-19) or other conditions, may have at least one visitor or carer at a time.

A patient may be able to have more than one visitor if social distancing on the ward can be maintained and a need has been agreed with the clinical team.

A dying patient can see a maximum of four visitors at one time, but only in exceptional circumstances.

You may also contact loved ones through phone calls and using facilities such as FaceTime, WhatsApp and Skype.

We advise only one person should normally visit at any time. In some situations however, as a visitor you may need physical or emotional assistance, that will be taken into account by staff and reviewed by the responsible senior clinician.

Visitors may be asked to provide informed consent that they understand the personal risks associated with visiting Red Areas during Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions and must consent to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and undertake all other relevant hygiene requirements equivalent to that used by care staff in the specific care facility. Support will be provided to put on and take off PPE where necessary. We would ask you not to visit any other area of the hospital following your visit and return directly home. If possible we recommend to wash the clothes worn on the visit at 60 degrees as soon as possible.

Anyone who is unwell and exhibiting symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), a new persistent cough and fever or high temperature – should NOT visit any patients in a hospital or other care facility.

Staff at the hospitals may have to limit the frequency of visits, duration of visits, or numbers of visitors in accordance with the risk to other patients, other care staff, or other practical considerations in the care setting. We would ask that you please be understanding during this difficult time.

If you cannot visit, hospital staff will be providing access to and support in the use of mobile tablet or handheld communication devices to patient and family, particularly if a family cannot provide these for themselves. IPads are available via the Palliative Care Team or site matron.


Can a relative visit more than once?

Yes – however, it is suggested that you visit the ward only and then immediately return home to wash and change clothes in order to minimise potential spreading of virus.

Can the “one person” be a different person at a different time?

Ideally, the visitor should be the same person. However, we understand that there may be circumstances where we need to be flexible. Family members can take it in turns to visit a dying patient as long as there is only one visitor at a time.  Staff may ask you to wait in your cars and not in the hospital until they indicate your turn to visit.

How long can a visitor stay?

There is no time limit on how long you can stay. However, you will be advised not leave the ward to buy a coffee for example and staff will offer you drinks when needed.

Are children allowed?

Children would be allowed in exceptional circumstances with prior consent from a senior clinician and they would of course need to be accompanied. Children will also be asked to wear appropriate PPE when visiting.

What else should I consider?

Your visit should be organised in advance after discussing with ward staff. The process will be explained over the telephone.

Staff may suggest that visitors bring a change of clothes and shower upon arriving back at home.

You may be met by a member of staff at the door to guide you through to where you need to be, especially if you have been asked to wait in your vehicle.

If you are not sure, please ask the Palliative Care Team or the site matron.

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