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Healthcare Associated Infection Policy Unit
Scottish Government
St Andrew’s House
Room GE15
Regent Road
Email: hai@gov.scot
Telephone: 0131 244 5185

Top Tips in Preventing Infection

Top Tips for visitors

Patients and residents in hospitals and care homes are generally more vulnerable than visitors to infections like, Norovirus (winter vomiting disease), colds, flu and MRSA. Here are some tips to help us reduce infection risks to your friends and family and to yourself.

  1. Please don’t visit if you are feeling unwell - If you aren't well enough to visit then you are welcome to phone the ward or care home and leave a message. If you have vomiting or diarrhoea you should not visit a patient/resident in a hospital or care home until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped. This is important because you can be infectious for up until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped. Also don’t visit if you have a fever or cold or flu symptoms.
  2. Please follow all advice regarding visiting and keep to the visiting times and to the number of visitors advised. If there are norovirus outbreaks in hospitals there may be additional visitor restrictions. During the winter season you might want to check the hospital website or with the ward before you plan a visit.
  3. Make sure your hands are clean - making sure your hands are clean is one of the most important ways to stop infections spreading. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after going to the toilet. Use the hand hygiene facilities at the hospital or care home (hand washing or alcohol hand rub) before entering the ward / resident's room and when leaving the area. Look for the notices at the entrance to wards / care homes advising you what to do.
  4. Please watch what you are touching and where you are sitting - don't touch dressings, wounds, drips, catheters or any other equipment round the bed. Please use the chairs provided for visitors and do not sit on patients' beds
  5. Please make sure you use the visitors' toilets, not the patients' toilets
  6. Check with the ward staff before you bring in fresh food or gifts - some wards, for example Intensive Care Units, won't allow flowers and some may prefer you not to bring in food. During outbreaks of norovirus you are best advised not to bring in food from home

We also need your help - if you have any concerns about hygiene on the ward or if you are worried or unsure about any infection control issues please talk to the staff who will be happy to assist.

The Care Inspectorate has more tips on visiting care homes.

More information on the winter vomiting bug (norovirus) is available from NHS inform.