St Mary's Court Care Home, Braintree, Essex

At St Mary’s Court Care Home with effect from 17th May 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 now have the option to test visitors for COVID-19 immediately prior to their visit. There is a 30 minute waiting time for the result, and if the test proves negative, there is the option for visitors and their loved ones to hold hands. All visiting plans are individualised, with Sonnet Care Homes overarching protocols and procedures for visits that include a test, 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
  • Any discussion with a member of the team should be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes with social distancing and PPE rules observed. We welcome follow up telephone calls
  • Visits are supported and supervised by a member of the team only if indicated in the residents individual visiting plan
  • 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
  • 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 8th March 2021 government rules were eased to allow 1 close contact visitor to visit a care home resident subject to a negative LFD rapid test. From May 17th this was increased to 5 close constant visitors, 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 and whilst hand holding is allowed, hugging is not permitted
  • Full 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


Where the LFD Rapid test is conducted at the care home, the following will apply:

  • The visitor will wait in their vehicle in a designated parking space and a member of the team will come to them to conduct the test
  • The visitor remains in their vehicle. Once 30 minutes has elapsed a member of the team will return to confirm the result
  • If the result is positive, a confirmatory PCR test will be provided, and the visitor then leaves site to self-isolate under government test and trace rules
  • If the result is negative the visit can proceed with the visitor wearing a PPE face mask, disposable gloves, and a disposable apron
  • The visit may take place in the garden weather permitting, a designated area of the home or, in exceptional circumstances only, the residents’ room. These details will be agreed when the visit is arranged
  • Separate arrangements for LFD rapid testing will be pre-agreed with visitors who do not plan to arrive in their own vehicle


Garden visits without an LFD Rapid test:

PPE measures and social distancing will apply. Only garden areas that are visible and can be accessed without entering either home can be used. 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.  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 replace their PPE face mask with a clear plastic visor 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 negative LFD rapid test result will be required and PPE must be worn.

Visitor code 

Visitors are please requested to:

  • Spend no more than 15 minutes talking to any member of the team, and always observe social distancing and PPE rules when talking to any person face to face
  • Obtain vaccination against COVID-19 as soon as they become eligible
  • 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 area
  • Where possible, ensure that any items bought in for the resident can be sanitised
  • Note that all items bought in that cannot be sanitised will need to be stored for 72 hours before they are given to the resident
  • Avoid travelling to the homes via public transport and taxis. If this is unavoidable, please wear a PPE face mask at all times during the journey, bring a change of clothes, and advise the care home team on arrival

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