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Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): adult care homes guidance

Guidance on visiting during the pandemic plus tools and resources on visiting, and supporting residents in homes with COVID-19.

24 Feb 2021
Coronavirus (COVID-19): adult care homes guidance

Minimising the risk of transmission over the winter period and the Omicron variant

December 2021 update: a letter was issued to the adult care home sector on 15 December to communicate to adult care homes that visiting by friends and family, outings from care homes and communal activities between residents within the home should continue to be supported. Visiting is recommended to be a maximum of two households at a time per resident in response to the risk of the Omicron variant and guidance issued to the general public by the First Minister on 14 December 2021.

On 9 December 2021, a letter was issued to the sector highlighting measures that should be taken to minimise the risk of COVID-19, including the Omicron variant. A further update was issued 10 December, showing changes in isolation guidance.

All current interim guidance in response to the omicron variant, as contained within the letters from 9 to 14 December have been combined into one guidance page. This page will be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect guidance for adult care homes in response to the omicron variant.

Visiting guidance

Open with Care: supporting meaningful contact in care homes supports meaningful contact to resume between care home residents and their loved ones, from early March 2021.

This guidance sets out how indoor and outdoor contact in care homes will gradually increase while minimising COVID-19 risks to residents, staff and visitors. It has been developed with input from relatives of care home residents, care home providers and others.

Additional guidance on residents’ outings away from the care home, published on 17 May 2021, sets out how this can be supported to increase as we move to Level 0.

We published revised 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 on 15 July 2021.

On 15 September interim advice published supporting care homes to prepare to support a named visitor during managed COVID-19 outbreaks.

On 15 December interim guidance was published to emphasis visiting and outings should continue to be supported by care homes, including over the festive period. In line with guidance for the general public it is recommended that a maximum of three households meet at one time. This means each resident should meet with a maximum of two households inside the care home at any one time.

Visiting professionals into care homes and communal activities

On 14 April, we published updated advice on visits by professional care homes. This included visits by health and social care professionals, holistic and spiritual care professionals and others, such as site contractors, maintenance and health and safety personnel. The advice will be contained in Public Health Scotland’s COVID-19 information and guidance for care home settings (adults and older people). The updated advice no longer recommends a levels based approach to the return of services. It is recommended that visiting professionals should visit adult care homes if required to do so unless advised otherwise by the local health protection team or the care home. We sent a letter to the sector on 2 December 2021 advising of these changes.

Guidance for care homes

There are two main sets of guidance for care homes, focussed on resuming:

  • regular, meaningful contact with friends and family
  • visits into the home by volunteers, spiritual/faith representatives and professionals plus wellbeing activities

Infographics, videos and transcripts

Infographics, videos and accompanying transcripts have also been produced to help support residents in care homes with COVID-19, as well as visiting as safely as possible. 

Winter guidance

A letter has been issued highlighting measures that should be taken to minimise the risk of COVID-19 over the winter. 

To accompany this, we have produced posters and social media tools called 'kind to remind'. You can download these tools at Dropbox


Open with Care: core guidance

Letters to the sector and additional supporting information

Open with Care workshop slides

17 page PDF
1.0 MB

Infographics and resources

About this guidance

The guidance has been produced by the Care Homes Clinical and Professional Advisory Group (CPAG), a multi-disciplinary group chaired by members of the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer directorates. The group has been established to provide clinical and professional advice throughout the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Care Homes CPAG will continue to review the guidance taking account of changes in the emerging picture around COVID-19.

Previous Scottish Government Care Home Guidance has been archived, please contact CareHomesCovidSupport@gov.scot for any archived requests.


Email: CareHomesCPAG@gov.scot

First published: 24 Feb 2021 Last updated: 22 Dec 2021 -