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Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Open with Care: advice on practicalities

Published: 15 Jul 2021

Supplementary information including answers to practical questions and concerns resulting from Open with Care: supporting meaningful contact and activities in and away from care homes.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Open with Care: advice on practicalities
Outings from the care home

Outings from the care home

Residents leaving the care home

Outings away from the care home should be supported in line with published Scottish Government guidance: Open with Care - Additional advice and guidance: activities and outings away from the care home and Public Health Scotland.

Returning to the home following an outing

Residents do not generally have to isolate following a social outing from the care home, including after an overnight stay. There are some exceptions to this – please refer to the guidance.

Decisions on outings

When a resident wishes to go on outings away from the care home, the presumption should be that these should take place in line with general population COVID-19 restrictions / permissions relevant to the care home and the place of visit. Care homes should work with families to help them understand the guidance and any appropriate IPC requirements.

The exception is where there is clear evidence justifying a more restrictive approach. The guidance explains when this might be the case.

Care homes can reach out to local health protection teams if they have questions.

Frequency of outings

There is no limit to the number of residents’ outings per week in the guidance. Care homes are encouraged to support residents towards more normalised contact outside the home, where residents want to do this.


Residents may wish to take trips out of the home in a car or minibus. In planning such trips, care home should consider the number of people in the vehicle and whether they have been tested and/or vaccinated, but in general trips out in cars and minibuses should be allowed under the guidance with appropriate safety measures in place. Local health protection teams can help care homes plan these in a way that everyone feels comfortable. More detailed advice and guidance is available in section 2.7 of the Public Health Scotland COVID-19 information and guidance for non-healthcare and care settings.

Younger adults

The principles and conditions outlined in Open with Care additional advice and guidance: activities and outings away from the care home apply to all adults in care homes (younger and older) and outings and activities away, where residents wish to do them, and should be recognised as being a hugely important part of life meaning and purpose.

Communal activities (including dining) - indoors and outdoors

Communal activities are encouraged to be supported unless the care home has an outbreak. When the home does not have an outbreak communal areas and activities should be supported, with slightly different recommendations in Levels 4 and 3 compared to Levels 0-2. Detailed information on this can be found on the guidance linked above in Annex B, 3rd page (yellow box).

At Level 0, communal activities are encouraged to be fully resumed to previously ‘normal’ or improved levels.

Updated advice Open with Care - Improving care home residents’ meaningful contact and connection – on moving to and past Level 0 issued on 19 July recommends communal activity continues to resume in line with 14 April advice, with amended physical distancing advice.

From 19 July, physical distancing in the care home it is recommended to reduce to 1 metre. Outdoors, in the care home grounds, physical distancing is removed in all groups of 15 people or less (mask wearing is no longer recommended as necessary outdoors). Further relaxations may happen in August (advice to follow).

At Level 0, communal activities are encouraged to be fully resume to previously ‘normal’ or improved levels.

Updated advice on the use of fans (in communal areas, residents’ rooms and more generally) available from Public Health Scotland.

Testing family and friends before outings

Friends and family members may wish to get tested before going on an outing together, for additional reassurance. Testing is recommended for family and friends in the household where a resident is going to stay overnight.

Information on ordering test kits can be found on NHS Inform.