Visiting someone in a care home

Page last updated: 4 April 2024

People living in care homes should be able to have visitors. This is one of the fundamental standards, which care providers must meet by law.

Care homes are people's home

Moving into a care home is likely to be a big change for your partner, relative or friend, so it's important for them to see a familiar face. To help them feel at home, they should be able to welcome you in the same way they did before they started living there.

Care homes should support visits

The staff should make it as easy as possible for you to visit your relative or friend. They should respect your relationship and give you as much privacy as they can.

Visiting someone can help improve their care

Visiting someone gives you the opportunity to:

  • find out how they are and see how well they are being looked after
  • ask the staff who are caring for them about their health and happiness
  • answer any questions the staff have for you – especially if your loved one finds it difficult to communicate or to make decisions for themselves
  • tell the staff about their likes, dislikes or needs, so they can arrange their care in a suitable way.

A good, open relationship with staff is best for your loved one

The staff and managers in a good home should want to involve you in the care of your partner, relative or friend. They also, however, have a duty towards other residents and staff and will expect you to treat them with dignity and respect.

During a visit, you may do something without knowing it that's not in the best interests of your loved one or other residents. This could be something like helping them stand when they should use a hoist.

In these sorts of cases, staff and managers should give you advice so that you know what to do in future. They should talk openly with you to prevent any issues becoming more serious or difficult to deal with.

Staff should seek your views and the views of your loved one

Staff and managers should be keen to learn from people's feedback – both positive and negative. If you see or hear anything that concerns you during your visit, you should speak to a member of staff or contact the care home.

All care homes must have ways to gather and respond to feedback and complaints from residents and their families and friends. They must investigate complaints and make improvements if necessary. We check how well a care home listens to people's complaints and whether it learns from them.

Making a complaint should not cause problems

You might worry that complaining will make it harder to visit your loved one, or that it might affect their care, or even that they are asked to move to a different home. None of these things should happen.

Care homes must follow rules that prevent people who complain being discriminated against or victimised. Our guidance says: "People's care and treatment must not be affected if they make a complaint, or if somebody complains on their behalf."

We check that people feel comfortable sharing concerns and complaints and we take action when we find homes are not following the rules.

Residents also have consumer rights, which help to ensure that they are treated fairly and protected if things go wrong.

You can find support if you don't think your complaint has been resolved

If you make a complaint but you're not happy with the care home's response, there are other organisations that can give you support. See our Complain about a service or provider page for more information.

Getting in touch with us can help to prevent poor care

We can't make complaints for you or take them up on your behalf. That may seem confusing but it's because we don't have powers to investigate or resolve them. The only exception to this is for people whose rights are restricted under the Mental Health Act.

Even though we can't investigate your complaint, we really want to know about it and any other feedback you have. Your information will help us to protect others from going through the same experience.

Give feedback on care.