St Mary's Court Care Home, Braintree, Essex

At St Mary’s Court Care Home with effect from 21st June 2021

These visiting protocols are intended to complement and not replace all the great work that the activity team are doing in facilitating virtual visits.

There are no restrictions in terms of contact by telephone or from personal computer devices.

In special circumstances, such as at the end of life, these visiting protocols will be eased. All special arrangements are discussed sensitively and agreed on an individual basis.

Whilst vaccination against COVID-19 is not mandatory for either care home residents or their visitors, Sonnet Care Homes strongly recommends that all adults obtain the vaccine when it is offered.

We are really pleased to confirm that we can now welcome up to 5 named close contact visitors for each resident. This is subject to a negative same day LFD rapid test and a maximum of 2 visitors in any one day.  All visiting plans are individualised, with Sonnet Care Homes overarching protocols and procedures for visits, being available on request.

More information can be found at:

For all types of close contact, the protocols may be summarised as follows:

  • Residents can now benefit from up to 5 named close contact visitors
  • The number of close contact visitors in any one day is limited to 2
  • Close contact visits are subject to a same day negative LFD rapid test. This can be conducted by the care home team on arrival, or completed on the day of the visit and evidence of a negative result provided to the care home team on arrival
  • Babies and pre-school children do not count as part of the 5 named close contact visitors
  • Children under 11 years of age are not required to submit to a rapid LFD test
  • Children 3 years and under are not required to wear a face mask
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be required when within 2 metres of any resident, member of the team, or other visitor
  • All visitors will be asked to use antibacterial gel before putting on PPE
  • Visitors will be asked a series of screening questions to confirm their COVID-19 and travel status
  • We will check visitors temperatures on arrival
  • We reserve the right to stop the visit if either a potential visitors health on the day, LFD rapid test result, or their answers to the screening questions, give us cause for concern
  • We will agree a person-centred individual care plan for visits for each resident (see My Visiting Plan)
  • In order to comply with test and trace rules, we will record the details of all visits. We will keep these details for 21 days only
  • All visits are appointment based
  • For visits that include an LFD rapid test conducted by the care home team, visitors are required to consent to the test


Types of Visit

Visits may occur in a number of ways as follows:

  • Window visits
  • Drive through visits
  • Garden visits
  • Visiting room visits
  • In-room visits
  • Visits following a negative LFD rapid test result 

In practice we have found over the past year that window visits and drive through visits are not popular, though details can be provided and arrangements made upon request.

The protocols for the visit types most commonly chosen are as follows:

Close Contact Visits:

With effect from 17th May 2021 government rules were eased to allow 5 close contact visitors to visit a care home resident subject to a same day negative LFD rapid test, though limited to 2 in any single day. The guidance may be summarised as follows:

  • All physical contact increases the risk of infection
  • A negative LFD rapid test is not a guarantee that a person does not have COVID-19
  • Because of the above, physical contact should be kept to a minimum
  • PPE and adherence to infection control rules and protocols is required. Guidance will be given by the care home team
  • Close contact visits may take place inside or in the grounds
  • On the day of the visit, visitors may conduct the LFD rapid test themselves at home. In this case they need to bring evidence of a negative result with them


Garden visits without an LFD Rapid test:

PPE measures and social distancing will apply. Garden areas can be accessed without entering either home and seating will be arranged prior to the visit

Designated areas within each home have been prepared for indoor visits:

Perspex screens are installed in a designated visitor room in each home and these rooms can be used without the need for an LFD rapid test.  Visitors will access the room via an external door, whilst the resident will enter through an internal door. On the visitor side, screens and all hard surfaces will be thoroughly cleaned between each visit. Seating will be available on either side of the screen and visitors can remove their PPE face mask whilst they are in the room if they wish.

In-room visits:

Whilst we need to keep this type of visit to a minimum, for residents who are unable to leave their rooms we are able to facilitate room visits. A same day negative LFD rapid test result will be required, PPE will be worn, and social distancing guidance will apply.

Visitor code 

Visitors are please requested to:

  • Obtain vaccination against COVID-19 as soon as they become eligible and provide evidence of their vaccination status when asked
  • Contact the homes Administrator to book visits in advance
  • Refrain from attempting to book visits which are more frequent or longer than agreed
  • For close contact visits, either submit to an LFD rapid test on arrival, or bring evidence of a same day negative result
  • Comply with requirements regarding the maximum number of close contact visitors
  • Be free of any COVID-19 symptoms on the day of their visit and for at least 14 days previously
  • Not be unwell on the day of the visit
  • Provide the required information in response to COVID-19 screening questions
  • Comply with all infection prevention and control measures, including a temperature check, hand hygiene, the use of PPE, social distancing requirements, and remaining in the designated visiting areas

My Visiting Plan

In consultation with the resident and their potential visitors, as appropriate, the team will develop an individual visiting plan for each resident

The plan will take account of individual support needs, preferences, and abilities

The plan will also describe the type and frequency of visits specific to each resident

The names and any special circumstances of the agreed visitors will be included in the plan


Rights and responsibilities

Below is a set of rights and responsibilities for both Sonnet Care Homes and visitors which aim to put the welfare and wellbeing of residents at the heart of our visiting arrangements during the pandemic.


Sonnet Care Homes have the right to: Visitors have the right to:
Mitigate risk of infection by refusing entry to their home to anyone, or requesting that a person leave the premises, for any justifiable reason consistent with published visiting arrangements Access care home in accordance with the entry requirements set out Sonnet Care Homes visiting arrangements
Suspend all social visits when an outbreak (including non-COVID-19) occurs within the homes, or if instructed to do so by the local Director of Public Health, with the exception of visits to people at the end of life Be notified by timely and regular updates and information about what is happening in the home in relation to visiting.
Be provided and supported with additional ways to connect such as video conference or telephone calls in addition to a limited number of in-person visits.



Sonnet Care Homes have a responsibility to: Visitors have a responsibility to:
Provide a clear policy and information on how they will facilitate visitors, making this publicly available as needed. Follow the home’s visiting protocols and Visitor Code, including booking in advance.
Provide clear information about how the visit will work and the infection and prevention control measures that must be followed. Not to visit when unwell or displaying any signs of a cold/flu, respiratory or Covid-19 symptoms.
Appropriately support the care home team in order to facilitate visits including written processes and procedures. Respond truthfully to Covid-19 screening questions asked by the home’s team and to sign the completed screening question sheet.
Treat all visitors with respect and courtesy, and to provide clear instructions about the visiting policy. Treat all team members with respect and courtesy, and to follow their instructions on the visitor policy.
Proactive communication with residents and families where an outbreak occurs, and the impact on the visiting policy. Follow visiting requirements including, infection and prevention control measures such as washing hands, use of visiting windows, remaining designated areas and social distancing requirements – as directed by the care home team – and that failure to do so may affect the future ability to visit

Sonnet Care Homes key contacts:

Julia Clinton, CEO
Sonnet Care Homes

Terri Pike, Home Manager,
St Mary’s Court

Jane Sadowski, Home Manager,
The New Deanery