A blurred picture: describing current practice related to suspended visiting during norovirus outbreaks across Scotland

Evonne Curran, Kay Currie, Lesley Price, Evelyn Strachan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Introduction: Noroviruses have been described as ‘the perfect human pathogens’, presenting significant challenges in care-settings as they are highly-communicable and have high survivability in the environment. Norovirus outbreaks are the commonest cause of healthcare service disruption due to ward closures. One means of reducing the incidence of noroviruses is by reducing the flow of people ‘traffic’ in affected areas; this can be done by temporarily suspending visitors (TSV). Although widely publicised in the media, TSV is not currently routine policy in Scotland but it is implemented in some care areas. This study aimed to describe current TSV practice in NHS Boards and the independent care home sector across Scotland.
Methods: An on-line cross-sectional survey of all NHS Boards’ Infection Prevention and Control Leads (n=21) and a convenience sample of independent sector care home managers (n=107) in Scotland was conducted.
Results: Analysis revealed distinct differences in the operation of TSV between NHS Boards and independent care homes and within NHS Boards. The majority of NHS Boards (n=13, 61.9%) do not have criteria to guide TSV decisions; conversely, the majority of care homes (n=83, 77.6%) do operate criteria for TSV. Respondents who had implemented a TSV in the last two years identified specific circumstances in which an exception would be made, including terminal illness, when a patient is confused and when the visitor has travelled a long distance or is insistent on visiting. The majority of both NHS (78.9%) and care home (78.8%) respondents believed TSV would be helpful in managing norovirus outbreaks.
Discussion: Our findings suggest that the current gap in policy guidance has resulted in a fragmented picture nationally, with inconsistent practice in evidence. This presentation will provide further detail of the analysis of the current nature of TSV practice across NHS Boards and the care home sector in Scotland.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014


  • norovirus
  • hospital visiting
  • NHS boards
  • TSV


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