Information for Visitors
Visiting time is a very important part of the day for many patients. However, certain rules and restrictions are necessary to ensure the well-being of the patient and all others in the hospital.
In June 2006, the Health Service Executive (HSE) drew up new guidelines for hospitals on visiting hours, aimed at protecting patients and reducing the potential for spread of infections in hospitals. These included the following recommendations:
- Visiting times between 2.00pm-4.00pm and 6.30pm-8.30pm daily.
- Maximum visiting time of 20 minutes, with no more than two persons visiting a patient at any one time.
- No visits by children under 12 years of age, other than the patient's own children. All children must be supervised by an adult at all times while in the hospital.
However, most hospitals specify their own visiting hours and restrictions, with some offering longer visiting hours than those outlined above, and others, shorter.
Visiting hours may also differ between different departments/wards – for instance, in the maternity and children’s wards, partners/parents are generally allowed to visit throughout the day, while in the intensive care unit, visiting times may be restricted to brief periods by immediate family only.
It is therefore important to check with the relevant ward and hospital before going to visit your friend or relative.
In certain cases, wards may also make exceptions to visiting times, for compassionate reasons. There may also be more restrictions introduced at any time – for instance during an outbreak of an infectious disease. All exceptions and restrictions are made at the discretion of the nursing staff on duty.
At the hospital
As a visitor to a hospital, you have a number of responsibilities towards your friend/relative you are visiting, as well as to all others in the hospital. These include:
- If you have a sore throat, flu, vomiting and/or diarrhoea or other infections, postpone your visit until you are feeling completely better.
- Do not visit if under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Do not bring in food or drinks for patients without prior consultation with the ward staff.
- Find out the hospital/ward policy on bringing in flowers or fruit before you bring in such items.
- Follow hospital restrictions on use of mobile phones – mobiles can interfere with some types of medical equipment.
- Use hand hygiene facilities if available when entering and exiting hospital wards.
- Consider other patients’ needs for rest and privacy while visiting your friend/relative.
- Refrain from touching dressings, drips, catheters etc and do not sit or lie on beds.
- Have consideration for the hospital staff doing their job – comply with any requests from staff, e.g., to leave the patient’s room when necessary to facilitate care.
- Ensure children are well behaved and do not leave them unaccompanied.