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Should hospital wards have open visiting hours?

  • Comments (19)

EXPERT COMMENT

Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN has suggested that visiting times should be extended and made more flexible.

What do you think?

  • Comments (19)

Readers' comments (19)

  • Anonymous

    I have worked in an acute tertiary unit with open visiting and an acute general medical ward with strict visiting. Personally I found the open visiting much more beneficial to me as a nurse as friends and family were able and willing to assist with care (physical and psychological) and the patients were much more relaxed as they had company more often. Certain rules were maintained - 2 visitors er bed etc, and I found relatives were much more obliging when asked to leave while I cared for a patient as they knew they could come back.
    With the strict visiting hours I found many visitors were unable to attend as they were working shifts etc. They were also less obliging - care was assumed to be given at other times, visiting hours were for them. There was also increased anxiety as not as much information was shared in the limited time they were present.
    I also found enforcing the strict hours very time consuming for me - many visitors are not impressed that they cannot just turn up and enter the wards whenever they chose and this led to many protracted discussions at the ward door as to how draconian regulations are. Even when the patient left the ward to join them for coffee the visitors were unhappy.
    Open visiting for me anytime.

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  • Anonymous

    I've worked in settings with strict visiting times and settings with open visiting and generally found that open visiting is best - people are often willing to adapt to 'advised' visit times too providing staff can explain why.

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  • Open visiting is often best, I have even excercised judgement on 'bending' visiting times on wards in the past. However, this must be with the caveat that clinical needs and patient care are always given priority. Patients need to rest too, and that is ALL patients. There are also issues of infection control to consider. What it boils down to essentially I think is our own professional judgement.

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  • Ashley Needham

    As a young child I spent many hours visiting my Dad in hospital and looking back I think in terms of psychological well-being open hours would definitely have been better as then his visits from relatives could have been spread through the day which would have meant he felt less isolated and alone. Furthermore I can truly appreciate how horrible it is to have a member of staff come and tell you that visiting time is over and its time to go. So I definitely think open hours would be much better.

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  • Anonymous

    I have recently been a patient on a ward with restricted visiting and this is not good for patient care. I noticed that some patients flouted the rules by having five or six visitors at a time using the travelling time as a reason for this. Personally I discouraged some close friends from visiting as by the time they had got to the hospital, found a parking space, said hello then it was time to leave. As much as I wanted people to visit, I ended up in a hospital miles from home and the pressure on loved ones to be there for this small window of visiting is not fair. Extended or open visiting hours is beneficial to patients and may also mean that the rules of two to a bedside are adhered to.

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  • Anonymous

    I have recently been a patient on a ward with restricted visiting and this is not good for patient care. I noticed that some patients flouted the rules by having five or six visitors at a time using the travelling time as a reason for this. Personally I discouraged some close friends from visiting as by the time they had got to the hospital, found a parking space, said hello then it was time to leave. As much as I wanted people to visit, I ended up in a hospital miles from home and the pressure on loved ones to be there for this small window of visiting is not fair. Extended or open visiting hours is beneficial to patients and may also mean that the rules of two to a bedside are adhered to.

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  • Laura Carter

    Whilst I agree that is not fair to have to turn relatives away when they turn up outside of visiting hours, I don't believe allowing visitors in whenever they please is appropriate either. I have always found staff to be fairly flexible especially when the visitors have travelled long distances, the patient is having surgery, or in a very serious condition etc. From personal experience staff are also very happy to let visitors in outside of hours when they aren't staying long, are bringing belongings to the patient and on occasion, the visitor is a patient also.

    My problem with open visiting hours lies with how it affects the other patients on the ward. We must remember that we have duty of care to all of our patients and how can they be expected to rest and recover when the ward is always noisy and busy? Please spare me the comments about having peace and quiet at night because anyone who has ever nursed confused patients knows this to not always be true.

    Visiting times are there for a reason and lets not forget protected mealtimes also. It was only last week that a patient expressed her distress at the large number of visitors in the bay and whilst I do not wish to separate any patient from their family, if I were a patient I certainly would not force my family on other patients for several hours on a daily basis.

    The importance of visitors to a patients recovery can be absolutely vital and those visitors that wish to assist with tasks such as washing, feeding and translating are a great help to nursing staff, particularly when the patient has extra needs such as a learning disability or doesn't speak English.

    However as someone else said, would you want your mother being washed in a room full of visitors?

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  • Anonymous

    definetly no

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  • Anonymous

    Patients need a bit of peace and quiet some of the time, and they can't get that with relative chattering away beside them, or other people's relatives talking in the same room. In addition to that, patients need to wash and dress, whether assisted or not, and all of our patients have post-op physio. If we had open visiting, it would be hard to get things done. We don't have visiting until the afternoon after patients have had lunch and a rest on their bed if they need it.

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  • Anonymous

    i think open visiting times a great but maybe from after 10 am till about 9pm and as long as visitor are aware that the needs of the service user comes first and leave while needs are attneded to...... it may also help at meal times (they could encourage them to eat).

    The ward I worked on was fairly flexible with visiting but did have protected times e.g meal times and one hour in the afternoon where therapeutic activites were under taken and phone were to be ignored.

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