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New legal rights allowing families to visit people in care homes, hospitals and hospices to come into effect

As of the 6 April, 2024, service providers which carry out regulated activities will be required to facilitate visits for service users unless there are exceptional circumstances why this cannot happen. 


We're all aware of how vital visits are for people, especially since Covid where restrictions were put in place. These had a massive impact on the health and wellbeing of not only service users, but family members and friends of those service users. 

Whilst many providers have started to facilitate visits again, there are some which have kept the strict restrictions of Covid in place, to the determent of many. 


There already exists guidance which supports visits through the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England, Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Human Rights Act 1998, but the amended regulations now go further to qualify it as a fundamental standard. 

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 will allow for the following:

  • Where a service user is having an overnight stay in a care home, hospital or hospice, they must be facilitated to receive visitors;
  • If accommodation in a care home, a service user cannot be discouraged from taking visits outside of the care home setting;
  • Where attending a hospital or hospice appointment which isn’t overnight, they should be enabled to be accompanied by a family member, friend or person otherwise providing support to the service user.

Providers should take all action necessary and proportionate, considering any care or treatment plan in place for the service user and involving the service user, family members and friends in any planning. 

Consequently, providers shouldn’t act without the consent of the service user. Additionally, if the service user lacks capacity, action shouldn't be taken which isn’t in their best interests. Any health and welfare attorney or deputy should be involved in any discussions. 

Although this includes an important right into legislation, providers need to ensure that they're acting within the terms of any Court or Tribunal Order as well as existing legislation. 


This right now becomes a CQC fundamental standard which means that CQC can include it within its inspection framework. If this right is found to be breached, then CQC will be able to enforce as part of their existing civil enforcement powers. 


This is a welcome introduction that provides much needed clarity to the law around care home visiting and will have a positive impact for many people in care homes, and for their loved ones.

Find out more about our expertise in supporting people affected by care access issues at our dedicated healthcare and social services section.