Visiting dying patients


End of life care

  • During these difficult times, patients in hospital thought to be in the last week of life, either dying from COVID-19 or other conditions, may have up to four visitors, where social distancing on the ward can be maintained and it has been agreed with the clinical team.
  • You may also contact loved ones through phone calls and using facilities such as FaceTime, WhatsApp and Skype.
  • If you cannot visit, the Trust’s Letters to Loved ones service is still running and teams will continue to use iPads and mobile phones to help people keep in touch where face-to-face visiting is not possible.
  • Staff 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.


We are strongly recommending all visitors to our hospitals:

  • Have received at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Do not visit a patient and stay at home if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, they feel generally unwell (even if it’s just a cold) or they have diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms

Visitors and PPE

  • All visitors must wear a surgical face mask – we will be able to supply you with one so personal, fabric face coverings are not worn on our wards.
  • You only need to wear gloves and an apron, in addition to your face mask, if you are involved with personal care of your loved one on a ward.
  • Visitors may be asked to provide informed consent that they understand the personal risks associated with visiting COVID-19 wards and must consent to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and undertake all other relevant infection prevention and control measures while in our hospitals.
    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 washing the clothes worn on the visit at 60 degrees as soon as possible.


End of life care – frequently asked questions

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 a visitor 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 have any questions, please ask the Palliative Care Team.


Help us stop the spread
ESNEFT is asking everyone to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • Washing and sanitising your hands regularly, especially before and after your visit
  • Wearing a surgical face mask covering your nose and mouth at all times
  • Following social distancing guidance


Our hospitals
ESNEFT’s visiting policy applies at Colchester Hospital, Ipswich Hospital, Aldeburgh Hospital, Felixstowe Hospital, Bluebird Lodge in Ipswich, Clacton Hospital and Fryatt Hospital in Harwich.



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