Visiting dying patients


Please have a quick test for Coronavirus (COVID-19) before coming to 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 up to four visitors, where social distancing on the ward can be maintained and it has been agreed with the clinical team

Visiting and attendance at appointments in exceptional / compassionate circumstances, as well as carer responsibilities is supported across the Trust. Specific visiting guidance is here for carers.

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

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.

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.

Staying in contact with families and loved ones
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.


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.

Keeping everyone safe

ESNEFT Chief Executive Nick Hulme said: “The safety of our patients, visitors and staff is what’s most important to us.

“Restricted visiting policies and arrangements for attending appointments in our hospitals have to stay in place for now while Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be in general circulation in our communities and hospitals, but we will make further changes when we can.

“Our teams are working incredibly hard to keep everybody safe, whether they’re receiving our care or visiting loved ones, and we sincerely thank you for your continued patience and support.”

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

  • Following the national rules of lockdown (see
  • Washing your hands regularly, especially before and after your visit
  • Wearing a face mask
  • Following social distancing guidance

Our hospitals
This guidance covers Colchester Hospital, Ipswich Hospital, Aldeburgh Hospital, Felixstowe Hospital and Bluebird Lodge, Ipswich.






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