Regulation 9A: Visiting and accompanying in care homes, hospitals and hospices

Page last updated: 26 April 2024

Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Regulation 9A

This regulation aims to make sure:

  • people staying in a care home, hospital or hospice can receive visits from people they want to see
  • people living in a care home are not discouraged from taking visits outside the home
  • people attending appointments in a hospital or hospice, that do not require an overnight stay, can be accompanied by a family member, friend or advocate if they want someone with them.

The regulation explains what providers must do to make sure they respect the right of each person to receive visits and to be accompanied, following an assessment of their needs and preferences.

Everyone should work on the assumption that in-person visiting and accompaniment to appointments are possible. Providers must put in place any measures or precautions necessary and proportionate to ensure that visiting and accompaniment can continue to happen safely. These must be the least restrictive options and must be decided with the person using the service, and their family, friends or advocates where appropriate. The provider must help people to understand their options and make informed decisions, making reasonable adjustments where necessary. The provider, in partnership with people involved in the decision, should regularly review any precautions that have been implemented and should remove them as soon as possible. It is important that information is communicated clearly to the person using the service and those restricted from visiting throughout the process. The provider should also be clear with those involved who they can contact within the service if they have questions or concerns about any restrictions in place.

Very occasionally, there may be exceptional circumstances where, despite any precautions put in place, a visit or accompaniment may still pose a significant risk to the health, safety or welfare of a person using the service or on the premises. This risk will mean that, despite considering all possible actions and precautions, an in-person visit or accompaniment cannot be safely facilitated and there is no alternative but to restrict visiting or accompaniment at that time. If this is the case, the provider should put in place the necessary restriction and review arrangements regularly. As soon as circumstances change, the provider should remove the restriction and allow in-person visiting or accompaniment again.

A human rights-based approach to decision making can support providers in enabling visiting and accompaniment and when considering restrictions in complex situations. This includes considering the appropriate balance between a person's right to private and family life, independence, choice and control, risk and safety. Providers must consider whether restrictions are lawful, legitimate and proportionate.  

Providers must make sure they take people's mental capacity into account. They must make sure that either the person, or someone lawfully acting on their behalf, is involved in planning, managing and reviewing their care and treatment. This includes their right to having visitors and being accompanied to appointments. Providers must make sure decisions are made by those with the legal authority or responsibility to do so. They must work within the requirements of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The Act includes a duty to consult others, such as families, unpaid carers and advocates, where practicable and appropriate.

Providers must also work within the requirements of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010, including the Public Sector Equality Duty, where applicable, and make reasonable adjustments.

See the glossary for clarification of the terms 'needs' and 'preferences'.

CQC cannot prosecute for a breach of this regulation or any of its parts, but we can take regulatory action, including civil enforcement action where this is appropriate.

CQC must refuse registration if providers cannot satisfy us that they can and will continue to comply with this regulation.

Registered persons maintain overall responsibility for ensuring that all regulations are met.


This sets out the guidance providers must have regard to against the relevant component of the regulation.

9A(1) This regulation applies to a registered person in respect of a relevant regulated activity carried on in a care home, hospital or hospice.

9A(2) Unless there are exceptional circumstances, service users—

(a) whose care or treatment involves an overnight stay or the provision of accommodation in a care home, hospital or hospice, must be facilitated to receive visits at those premises;

(b) who are provided with accommodation in a care home, must not be discouraged from taking visits out of that care home;

(c) who attend a hospital or hospice for the provision of care or treatment which does not involve an overnight stay, must be enabled to be accompanied at those premises by a family member, friend or a person who is otherwise providing support to the service user.

9A(3) Without limiting paragraph (2), the things which a registered person must do to comply with that paragraph include—

(a) in relation to paragraph (2)(a), securing that service users are facilitated to receive visits in a way that is appropriate, meets the service user's needs and, so far as reasonably practicable, reflects their preferences;

(b) in relation to paragraph (2)(a) and (c), taking such action, or putting in place such precautions, as is necessary and proportionate to ensure that service users may receive visits or be accompanied safely;

(c) securing that, when making arrangements or decisions in respect of a service user for the purposes of paragraph (2), regard is given to any care or treatment plan for the service user;

(d) involving relevant persons when making any arrangements or decisions in respect of a service user for the purposes of paragraph (2).

9A(4) Nothing in this regulation—

(a) requires a service user to receive a visit, take a visit out of a care home or be accompanied—

(i) without the relevant person's consent, or

(ii) where the service user lacks the capacity to give consent, where it would not be in the service user's best interests;

(b) requires or enables a registered person to do anything which would not be in accordance with any court or tribunal order or  with any provision (including any direction, power or authorisation) contained in, or made by virtue of, any of the legislation listed in paragraph (5) (including by virtue of any instrument made under that legislation).

9A(5) The legislation referred to in paragraph (4) is -

(a) the 1983 Act;

(b) the 2005 Act;

(c) so far as relating to high security psychiatric services, the 2006 Act.


(a) In this regulation—

"care home" has the meaning given in section 3 (care homes in England) of the Care Standards Act 2000

"hospice" means an establishment other than a hospital whose primary function is the provision of palliative care to persons who attend or are resident there, who are suffering from a progressive disease in its final stages;

"relevant regulated activity" means an activity prescribed in regulation 3 as a regulated activity for the purposes of section 8(1) of the Act, except it does not include -

(i)  the regulated activities in paragraphs 1, 3, 8 and 9 of Schedule 1

(ii) any detoxification services for substance misuse provided in the course of carrying on a regulated activity;

(iii) any services provided to a service user (other than a service user who is in receipt of services provided in the carrying on of a regulated activity in paragraph 5 of Schedule 1) who -

(aa) is, or is required to be, detained in a prison or other institution to which the Prison Act 1952 applies,

(bb) is detained under the Immigration Acts,

(cc) is required to be detained in a prison or other institution to which equivalent legislation to that referred to in sub-paragraph (aa) applies in Scotland and Northern Ireland;

"visit", (except in the context of the taking of a visit out of a care home), means a visit from—

(i) a family member of the service user,

(ii) a friend of the service user,

(iii) a person visiting to provide support or companionship to the service user;

(b) in the definition of 'relevant regulated activity' in sub-paragraph (a), "prison" has the same meaning as in section 53(1) of the Prison Act 1952;

(c) a reference to having or lacking capacity, or to a person's best interests, in this regulation is to be interpreted in accordance with the 2005 Act.