CQC Guidance Update – Visiting Rights in Care Homes

Laura Paton Solicitor (Qualified in Scotland and England & Wales), Ridouts

Providers and care staff should be aware that, in October 2019, CQC updated its guidance on visiting rights in care homes.

The Guidance provides answers to a number of the key and often tricky questions around visiting rights such as: what happens when a person lacks the mental capacity to decide who visits them? and; what can a care provider do if it thinks a visitor poses a risk to a resident’s safety? The guidance has also been updated to reflect the fact that Residents have consumer rights in relation to their care which are there to ensure they are treated fairly and protected if things go wrong and that these consumer rights apply to all residents whether that care is privately funded by them or not.

The underpinning theme of the guidance is that Providers and care staff should always remember that care homes are people’s homes and therefore the residents should be able to welcome visitors in the same way as they would have done before they moved into residential care.

The guidance reminds Providers that involvement of family and loved ones in care planning is an essential component of person-centred care. Therefore, engagement with families and loved ones and requests for feedback , both positive and negative, should be actively encouraged by Providers.

Providers that have pro-active systems in place to welcome and encourage visitors and those that engage with family and friends in relation to care planning and improvements are likely to achieve better outcomes when it comes to inspection, particularly in the effective, responsive and well-led domains. Family surveys should be regular and the responses should be analysed, acted upon and documented.

If complaints are raised by visitors, the updated guidance stresses that homes must follow CQC’s guidance that prevent those raising complaints from being discriminated against. The guidance states that “People’s care and treatment must not be affected if they make a complaint, or if somebody complains on their behalf.”

From a Provider perspective, the guidance makes clear that CQC expect to see that:

  • Where people do not have the capacity to make decisions about their care, treatment and support, their friends and family are involved, where appropriate.
  • Staff are proactive, and make sure that people are able to keep relationships that matter to them, such as family, community and other social links.
  • Concerns and complaints are always taken seriously, explored thoroughly and responded to in good time.
  • People’s rights, including their consumer rights, are respected regardless of whether they pay all the costs of their care or whether some or all of the costs are paid for by their local authority, NHS or health and social care trust.

The new guidance also clearly maps the CQC’s expectations of Providers’ approaches to visiting rights to the Health and Social Care Regulated Activities Regulations and makes it very clear to Providers that if they do not promote the visiting rights set out in the guidance then they could be at risk of being found to be in breach of a number of the Regulated Activities Regulations at inspection such as regulations 9, 10, 11, 13 and 16. In terms of CQC guidance on Inspections, a breach of a regulation will usually mean that the overall rating of a service cannot be better that Requires Improvement therefore it is important for providers to ensure that their processes and procedures in relation to visitors are up to date and comply with the regulations.

You can read CQC’s updated guidance on visiting rights in full on the CQC website here:



Edel Harris





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