Anne’s Law: Visits to or by care home residents

Anne’s Law: Visits to or by care home residents

Anne’s Law was developed following a petition to the Scottish Parliament on behalf of Care Home Relatives Scotland (Petition PE1841: Allow a designated visitor into care homes). The petition was lodged by Natasha Hamilton, who was unable to see her mother, a care home resident, Anne Duke, for prolonged periods during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of restrictions on care home visits during lockdowns and outbreaks of the virus. The Bill proposes amendments to the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 with the aim of ensuring “providers and public health teams give effect to visiting rights and to remove variation in practice in the sector including the use of blanket visiting bans by care home providers”. The Scottish Government describes the practical effect of these amendments as being that “visiting will always be supported in line with directions issued by the Scottish Ministers”. If you agree with these proposals in the National Care Service Bill click the thumbs up button (👍) below. If you disagree with these proposals click the thumbs down button (👎) below. If you are unsure about the proposals and feel you need to know more about them click the question mark button (❓) below. If you have any additional comments about these proposals please provide them in the comment section below.


I support this but being a care provider I am ashamed that it has to be a bill in the first place. If care providers cannot recognise the need and importance of visitors for residents then they should not be in a care providing environment. We have learned valuable lessons and have avowed never to keep them apart again.We genuinely believed that by following the Governments guidelines, they would have our backs, instead they drove a political knife into them and left us high and dry. from now on we will do whatever we need to do to keep to visits no matter what we are "guided" to do.

I have never felt so helpless in all my life. My relative lives in a home. Not a prison camp, not a locked ward, not behind bars. Things have changed dramatically during and since the pandemic. There has been major control by care homes and governments to exclude relatives from being with their family members. Tearing apart family life that was already difficult enough and causing so much distress. People died alone, dignity pushed aside. Wellbeing and mental health crisis is worse now than ever. To be taken away from your own mother as she banged her fist on a window above shouting for you to come in, I could only hope she could lipread that I couldn't. The abandonment she felt, the fear and loneliness all around her, stuck in a tiny room having to isolate. A daughter working all day in the nhs at the height of covid then coming home shattered to send e-mails to the CEO of care, and care inspectorate to try and fight her corner. To be given veil threats on a zoom call from an area manager for the nursing home that the place may no longer be suitable for your relative because you dare to question the locking out of family with no end in sight, even thought the resident has resided there for 15 years. The list could go on. It has been absolutely hellish. Barbaric, against human rights that relatives were separated and locked out from their relative. We must never be locked out again, normality has to resume in care homes and nursing homes. The rest of the world already has their freedom, returning to normality. Relatives need to be with family. Guidance has NEVER worked. Care homes make their own interpretation. Normality needs to resume and normality and guidance needs to stop and relatives need to know their rights are enshrined in law, not guidance.

We need there to be absolute right for at least one supporter per resident , however related (or not), to be able to visit those in care and an obligation for care facilities to find ways to enable this no matter what the circumstances are or how their premises are configured. Please implement Anne’s law as demanded by those who have the lived experience most of our rulers obviously lack.

Further clarification on what is meant by “visiting will always be supported" - does "supported" mean there might be variations? We need a clear and definite wording such as "visiting will always be permitted". I am concerned that this proposal is conditional on "directions issued by the Scottish Ministers” - who knows what that means? The proposal needs to be worded in a clear and unambiguous way with a definite statement not one that is conditional!

I am concerned about the ambiguity of the sentence: “visiting will always be supported in line with directions issued by the Scottish Ministers”. That would not guarantee that at least one family member would always have the right in law to go and see their loved one. Focus on human rights and the right to family life. There should be no caveats that could leave vulnerable people unable to see the ones that love and care for them.

I’ve worked as a care assistant & then promoted to an assistant officer in charge in a Social Services Local Authority residential care home for the elderly. Contact with family & friends is vital to a residents well being, both mental & physical health. Imagine having to accept that you can no longer cope at home & need 24 hr care, within a setting with other people of similar age & health needs. You feel a burden on your family & friends. Then your visitors reduce from daily to weekly or even monthly. You understand they’ve got their lives but you can still feel lonely around others. Then the government introduces guidelines that you don’t fully understand due to your health needs, or other needs. All you understand is that your loved ones don’t visit. You feel abandoned. Your health starts to deteriorate both mentally & physically. Next you pass away before your time. All these guidelines about no visitors during pandemics are doing is legally culling the sick & disabled. My dad died in November 2021. His health deteriorated considerably after not seeing my mum or his children for six weeks due to covid out breaks on his hospital ward. He was unable to communicate due a right sided stroke. He didn’t understand why we weren’t visiting. He felt abandoned. We were finally allowed in five days before he died. He was all ready to going into a nursing home in September 2021 but covid lockdown on his ward prevented this. He never contracted covid because we had a post mortem to proof it. He died from a peritonitis of the bowel. NO COVID PRESENT! This has got to stop. I fully support loved ones visiting their relative's

Absolutely essential.

I have used care homes to place my wife in for a week but since Covid I would not do so but rely on Personal Assistants to do sleep-overs

I'm in favour of this

The proposal should be extended beyond Care Homes to include Nursing Homes and hospitals, including NHS hospitals. The rules should not be different depending on what type of residential care you receive.

This is essential - family should never be shut out again

We desperately need Anne's Law, to make sure the cruel and barbaric treatment of our loved one's never happens again.. To shut out the people who mean the most in the world to them, to ban loved ones at a time where we were needed most, how scared they must have felt.. thinking they might never see us again, and how sad for the ones who didn't... To die alone is unforgivable... there's no second chances in life.. Let them live and be loved, and to feel the love...

residents must have a least one visitor every day, anything else is cruelty and affects health of resident and family

it is essential, people should not be seperated from their loved ones especially at this stage in their life

No person should be denied visits as this has a massive affect on everyone’s wellbeing .

I think yes a designated visitors into care homes is something very worthwhile.

Visits are essential for both residents of any care facility and their families. Blanket bans & separation from loved ones is barbaric, heartbreaking and detrimental to the mental health of all concerned. Noone should be left to feel like family has abandoned them.

Anne’s Law should be implemented immediately

I feel there needs to be absolute clarity about what 'visiting will always be supported in line with directions issued by the Scottish Ministers' actually means. I feel it is open to many interpretations and it would be better to state that visiting will always be permitted except when and list those circumstances where the Scottish Ministers would prevent it.

The group in approval for this. No loved one should be deprived of being with their loved one. Everyone is entitled to be with their loved one. No one should die alone.

This is essential legislation to prevent the totally inhuman and barbaric situation we were all faced with.

Care home residents and relatives should never have to bear the distress and mental torture the blanket ban on visiting caused during the CV lockdown. The deterioration in many residents during this time is quite frankly shameful our mainly elderly people deserve a quality of life.

It does concern me that Scottish Ministers can issue directions on this. I’d like to see a commitment that visiting will always be supported no matter what. Given the terrible decisions made by Scottish Ministers during the pandemic and the long term effects this has had on our loved ones and our families, I would not trust Scottish Ministers to make the right decision again. Visiting should be supported under every circumstance and families should be involved in decisions affecting individuals, not people who are so far removed from the situation and the effects. Absolutely no way should Scottish Ministers be allowed to make directions on our loved ones.

Annes law should have been implemented by now. I agree with other comments that there should be no circumstances where people are ever denied contact with loved ones.

The emphasis must be on the right for every care home resident to have the option of a family carer / friend included as part of their care team at ALL times. This is particularly important for residents with any degree of incapacity who rely on advocacy from a third party. This right was lost during the pandemic. Ministers should be there to “support” this basic right of contact rather than to “grant” it. I have grave concerns that the law will still allow for the doors of care homes to be locked and we will once again be cut off from our loved ones. Public Health guidance must encompass the negative effect of isolation, lack of stimulation, loneliness, anxiety, depression - and not focus solely on cold statistics and scientific data. The stress, anxiety, guilt, anger and despaired felt by those of us who were literally locked out and unable to communicate with our mums, wives, husbands, daughters has also had an incalculable effect. Anne’s Law must simply ensure that we are considered as an equally important member of the care team, and by following any necessary PPE measures as paid staff, have contact with our loved one at all times. Infection Control measures should be used as the enabler to support meaningful contact and not a barrier to keep us out. The basic ethos of Anne’s Law must not disappear within the greater NCS Bill. We simply ask that the residents’ right to contact with a family carer be respected at all times. Please just imagine how it feels to be standing outside a care home knowing that your 96 year old mum is desperate to see you. The cleaner, the young carer, the handyman, the laundry lady, can all pop in to her room for a chat. For nine months I am forbidden from entering the building.

Implement immediately to ensure that never again can others suffer the irreparable damage caused to elderly residents by being denied visits over such a prolonged period. Further clarity is needed on the phrase “visiting will always be supported in line with directions issued by the Scottish Ministers”. I need to know that my mother, and other residents, can always have visits regardless of any other circumstances. There can be no further obstacles or justifications in depriving them, and us, of direct access to a family life.

It is imperative that all care home residents have the legal right to an essential visitor at all times. Not to be driven by government guidelines, or "in line with directions issued by Scottish Ministers". At all times.

More clarity is needed about directions from Scottish Ministers as visiting is to be in line with those. It should be absolutely certain that never again should there be blanket bans - whether imposed by Ministers, Public Health or anyone else. The wording above is ambiguous and needs to be much clearer.

It is not acceptable that visiting will always be supported if directions allow. It is essential regardless of any situation. This statement once again creates a situation, when the decision-making process is open to individual interpretation which previously created a post code lottery and inequality in standards of care within Public Health and Care Home decisions, due to lack of clarity from the Scottish Government. This should be amended to visiting will always be supported regardless of any situation.

We desperately need a National Care Service Bill which protects the human rights of residents and their families - now and for future generations. Residents of care homes have been absolutely let down by the 'system' - they have been discriminated against, isolated and excluded from their friends and family and from civil society - they should never be stripped of their right of again so we need a robust, fit for purpose NCSB that is unambiguous and articulates the rights of our loved ones. People who require care have the right to liberty, family life and rights to freedom, respect and dignity. "Visiting will always be supported in line with directions issued by the Scottish Ministers” is not acceptable as it lacks detail and clarity.

On a personal level, I think the right to see your own husband, wife, child etc should be the default position and clearly stated as such. TBH it’s not a lot of consolation that the Minister can issue directions, I was locked out for a year mainly under ministerial guidance. My mum died weeks after I finally got back in.

This is essential and needs to be put in place as soon as possible.

Residents have a right to see loved ones

Visits should be unrestricted. Care home residents have been failed and lives destroyed by the rules imposed during the pandemic. We need clear unambiguous wording to ensure every care provider follows the same process and is not able to interpret the wording in a different way and apply their own rules.

I'm not sure if I'm reading this correctly as I believe strongly in Anne's law. Visits should be unrestricted, all these months have proven family/loved ones contact are absolutely necessary. If the government want to place restrictions I don't agree. Why are they dragging their feet.

This is absolutely essential and is the human right of every individual. Elderly people reside in care homes - it is their residence and their home! Therefore they must have the right to have visitors. The complex guidelines during lock-down lead to a wide ranging variation in visitor restrictions with a post-code lottery. The complex hierarchy of decision makers included public health practitioners, infection control teams, NHS boards, social and care, care home management/local teams. This created variable and confusing situations and it was the elderly residents and their relative/close contacts who suffered due to the variations and/or blanket bans which in some care homes are still ongoing while wider society no longer has any covid restrictions. Many thousands of elderly people died in Care Homes while unable to be visited by friends or family . The impact of the lack of contact will have a lasting and negative impact on their mental and emotional well-being. This ongoing situation is discriminatory and unfair. Anne's Law petition was well supported by public and private individuals, the petition had cross-party support at Hollyrood, there has been almost unanimous support in the various Consultations among public and care workers/industry representatives. Please just get on and implement Anne's Law - stop talking about it and start doing it!

Visiting must ALWAYS be allowed no matter what. This National Care Bill does not say that. We need separate legislation ie Anne's Law to make sure rights to visiting is enshrined in law, thus protecting rights of carehome residents which have been tragically abused for the last 2 and a half years.

From the consultation wording, and from comments below from Karen A, Sam L, Jane C, Alison W, Anne H, Cathie R, Amaree, Frank M, Judith C, it is clear that the implementation of Anne's Law as proposed will highly likely maintain the problem of restricting family visiting rather than resolve it. Visiting requires a (human) rights based approach, that Ministers then enforce. As long as staff are able to access the care home, then family should be able to do likewise, using similar staff mitigations as relevant of testing, PPE, vaccination. Family presence has a positive QA role in keeping safety standards up, that is not adequately considered or evaluated. Family only visit one person in one bedroom, each staff member, as the SG calculated, has multiples more contacts in a shift. Family were at one point the only and safest group testing daily just before each visit, but still were excluded seemingly on ideological grounds not safety grounds. Family contact is unique, cannot be replicated by staff, and should never be restricted in frequency and duration in care homes when staff access is unrestricted

I disagree with the wording "visiting should be supported" - it should be granted always, and enshrined in law, and individual Care Homes should not be able to make their own rules on visiting to suit their business models. The people of Scotland have a right to family life - each and every one of us. This cannot and should not be decided upon by a Scottish Government Minister who has little grasp of the impact of their decisions (see below for my justification of this). Therefore, remove "in line with directions issued by the Scottish Ministers". The high death rate from Covid-19 in care homes at the start of the pandemic was related almost completely to the decision taken by said Scottish Ministers to discharge patients who were infectious with Covid-19 from hospital without testing, not as a result of family members visiting their loved ones. Yet, we, the families and care home residents were punished for that. It seems that the wording of this Bill falls short of what Natasha Hamilton et al set out to achieve. The Scottish Government could, and should, do better.

We should NEVER be denied visiting rights to our loved ones ever again

I felt that although loved one in a care home relatives were severely side tracked, don't think this should happen again. Access for physio therapy was also denied resulting in loved one now bed bound.

Our most vulnerable family members should not be made to feel they have been abandoned by those who love them . The effect of this " lockout" had a devastating impact on families and their .mental health . The Scottish Government's policies on Care homes caused the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of our loved ones and they should now honour their promise to instate Anne's Law . The basic human rights of our fragile family members have to be protected and we should not have to wait any longer for this to be implemented .

Family bonds should be sacrosanct and no one should have the right to break them by denying access again. Private care homes were under no obligation to follow guidance so made up their own rules often dependant on staffing levels not the needs or wishes of the family. This proposal still has room for interpretation and does not go far enough to protect residents rights to their loved ones

Visiting must ALWAYS be supported without any minister giving direction for it. The relatives of those in care have the best interests of their loved ones at the forefront of their minds. They can make their own risk assessment whether visiting to assist with their care is appropriate or not. Restrictions on visiting since 2020 have been hugely detrimental to the health and wellbeing of care service users and their relatives/friends. Maintaining visits by at least one designated person, with the same access rights as staff, must become law to avoid any repeat of the pain, distress and trauma caused by visiting bans during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The wording should be stronger to give the main contacts of loved ones access as of right rather than at the total discretion of ministers and it needs a practical means of broad enforcement. As it was, residents with dementia were not in my sad experience treated as though they had a terminal illness, which it is medically considered to be and seemed to be looked on more sympathetically during the worst of the pandemic. There should be some broader and clearer means of review and enforcement in the residents' and their representatives' interest in the face of the negative interlocking nest of so many entities in the system, most of which were ultimately government controlled or regulated bodies. Alan Young

I remember sitting at the end of a 6ft table whilst my mum was at the other end on her birthday. My visit was “supported” by the care home gestapo. No privacy and after caring for my mum since I was 11 years old when she suffered 2 strokes suddenly I wasn’t trusted to keep her safe without supervision. It was completely inhumane. Visits ALWAYS should be permitted

Anne’s Law should also encompass acute psychiatric units for the elderly, not only care homes

  The provisions in the Bill will make no difference to visitation rights. -         It fails to understand, grasp or highlighting the essential nature of family and relative contact for residents and service users well being. -         It fails to understand the mental and physical strain on care staff having to try and explain why relatives aren't visiting. The current provision in the Bill means the Cabinet Secretary will have powers of visiting based on advice from Public Health Scotland. No change from the same scenario as currently that is preventing access. Structure governs function – It has been argued in the consultation phase that they only way to do justice to Annes Law is not by the Scottish Government in Edinburgh but locally through Local Access Panels at each care facility. This would involve Providers, Manager, staff, domestics and relatives working through dialogue rather than division or discourse to overcome local hurdles that are barriers to access. It ensures equality for all whether relatives can shout the loudest and gain special preferences over others or not. Its a common sense approach, doesn't involve public funding therefore is cheap and maximises access as local issues are taking into account and resolved. At a time of limited public funds rising inflation anything that does not involve public funds should be taken seriously by decision makers Hopefully decision makers will have the humility to accept that a local model is best cheapest and a common sense approach at these financially challenging times to promote dialogue rather than division or inequality. For more information how this could work email  

My dad's Dementia progressed in lockdown and he passed away shortly after restrictions were lifted. We will never know if he thought his family had abandonded him. We would have kept him safe if we could have been allowed to visit him. The odd days we were allowed to stand in the rain with our masks on outside a near closed window to look at him, when he could not see or hear us, will forever haunt me as to his wondering what was happening to him. This must never be allowed to happen again. How could anyone ever have thought these actions were the best care for our frail elderly is beyond comprehension. Locking them in without access to their family must never, ever, be allowed to happen again.

Anne's law is a fundamental human right. Article 8 - You have the right to enjoy family relationships without interference from government. This includes the right to live with your family and, where this is not possible, the right to regular contact.

On the 7th September last year, the First Minister stated in parliament that she would introduce Anne’s Law ‘to give family members the same access rights to residents as staff’. Staff do not need directions from the Minister so why should relatives. The right to access a loved one should always be the default position. We can never, ever repeat the mistakes of the past where our most vulnerable were cruelly cut off from those who mean the most to them.

Bloody hell get on with it. Countless died in captivity, locked into their rooms for up to 30 days in the name of infection control. We treat dogs better.

It’s essential- prevents social isolation for care home residents

The Scottish Government has committed to the principles of Anne’s Law as confirmed by the First Minister when she spoke in Parliament of giving relatives of care home residents the same access rights as care home staff. It is vital that there is no “watering down” of this proposed law and that residents must never again be cut off from the people they love. It is therefore essential that the default position regarding visiting must always be that relatives must be granted visiting rights. We must never go back to the inhumane practices of the past where loved ones were cut off from each other in such a cruel way.

Need to be totally clear on what is meant by “visiting will always be supported"... this sounds ambiguous to me and will be interpreted in many ways. We had enough of the varied adhoc rules made by well meaning care home managers made throughout the last two years. Some of the rules got so silly, "standing outside in the open air outside a closed window more than 12 feet away and still having to wear a mask". I showed this as an example of how nonsensical it got when there is ambiguity. Visits are essential for both residents of any care facility and their families. People with dementia left alone in their rooms without any visitors. No wonder they went rapidly downhill. Blanket bans and total separation from loved ones is inhumane full stop. This must be applied in some sense to hospital settings too as ambiguity set in there also. Vulnerable people died alone without any comfort from close family e.g. whether it was a loving husband, wife or partner or loving child. some cases all stopped from even short visits to a dying relative in their last hours, absolutely barbaric. People have been left traumatized by this separation, me included.

The following item is too vague - “visiting will always be supported in line with directions issued by the Scottish Ministers”. Clarification of visiting rights are essential for care home residents and their loved ones. Care home residents are individuals who regrettably are unable to live at home and we need to treat them with the care and respect they require. Individuals who are in care need to be cared for as we and they would wish. Their quality of live is the most important issue for them - extending their life whilst living in an establishment without their loved ones near is not acceptable to them.

It is vital that the trauma of the lockdown and being unable to see our loved ones is NOT allowed to happen again. The damage both physical and mental that was inflicted on families was heart breaking and will never be forgotten. We need Anne's Law to ensure that we are not at the mercy of the outrageous decisions made by bureaucracy during the pandemic.

Why is #anneslaw taking so long to put in place ? How many visits to Parliament is needed to get this law put through? What you put our loved ones and relatives through was inhumane. I will never forget my mothers words in August 2020 ‘you abandoned me.’ RIP mum!

The purpose of petition PE1841 was to ensure that anyone residing in a care home should always have contact with bare minimum one close friend/relative in any circumstance a care home needs to close. I believe the above does not allow this to happen. The default should be that anyone residing in care has access to bare minimum one close relative/friend and be allowed to access the care home the same way staff do. If we use agency staff for example, they do not need directions from ministers so why do families? I strongly feel the above once again belittles our relationships with our loved ones in care. If it safe enough for staff and professionals to enter and leave a care home, it should be safe enough for families. Please can get back to the basics of Annes Law and recognise the importance of family connection. No-one should ever have to go through such separation again and the above sadly means it could. Let's work on promoting the importance of family connections for the families, residents and the support we bring to staff. No-one should ever have to live in fear of being cut off from their family because of a place of residence. If staff can come to work safely then leave and be with their family, I see no reason why the default can't be residents' family can visit under the same principle. Staff and family play equal parts in caring for our loved ones in care homes, lets recognise this and ensure nothing stops families from being allowed to enter care homes ever again. The direction should be to enable family the same access to care homes as staff and continue to be partners in care.

From A Blog about "Anne's Law".... On 26 Jul Anne will have been held under Lock and Key for 500 Days.  For 500 Days we have been Forbidden to Kiss. Why does "Anne's" Law matter? would represent The One Decisive Intervention from Government that would Draw A Line In The Sand that says THESE SOULS DO MATTER and WE WILL SHOW THEM RESPECT. Without that Clear Signal, Anne remains subject to a whole host of UNINTENDED but no less hurtful indignities. 500 Days equals 70 Consecutive Sunday Nights that Anne has spent ALONE. Pre-Lockdown Her Sunday Evenings were most often spent in The Most Excellent Company of The Sunday Night Posse! At its finest we numbered 6 Family and Friends. Anne's hands would be gently moisturised.  Her nails manicured.  Fresh baked banana bread and chocolate chip cookies would be consumed. There would be happy reminiscing and Anne was surrounded by Laughter and Love. All BANNED! And Anne is consigned to yet more Enforced Loneliness!  This Has To Stop!  Campbell Duke (Anne's Husband)

I and my family were separated from my mum who has dementia through repeated lockdowns. I will not let this cruelty happen again.

Family, or at least one family member having access to a resident of a care home, at all times is a necessity for that resident. There should be no ambiguity about this. There needs to be laws that support the rights and welfare of care home residents as there are laws for the rights and welfare of other people in society. What is so difficult about this?

“visiting will always be supported in line with directions issued by the Scottish Ministers” This statement is contradicting the whole essence of Anne’s Law. It shouldn’t be up to Scottish Ministers to decide when we see our families in their (care) homes. They got it so wrong for far too long, and refused to admit it and rectify it. Anne’s Law should be implemented independent of the National Care Service and now. It makes me so angry that this administration is dragging its heals on their manifesto pledge of 2021 to implement Anne’s Law, which has full agreement across all political parties. What’s the delay for? Why are you still asking what it means? Do it. Do it today. Our mum suffered everyday without the love of her family, after the doors closed in March 2020 she never again got to see her 3 sons and 2 daughters in her “home” again, she passed away February 2021 (3 half hour garden visits with an escort doesn’t count in any way to normal family life given to only 1 daughter, me). Try living with that thought and the hurt it brings with it every day. I have to. Don’t you dare let this happen to any family ever again. Anne’s Law now.

It is ambiguous- it reads that visiting will always be supported IF directions allow it, rather than visiting will ALWAYS be allowed and directions will support that.

What is meant by ‘supported’! This is ambiguous. It should be implemented immediately. Should be clear and unambiguous, leaving everyone in no doubt what The Law is. We’ve had too much guidance, conflicting instructions before, this must not be open to interpretation.

There definitely needs more clarity over the wording. We cannot ever be in the position again where our most vulnerable members of society are locked away and relying upon interpretation by either Scottish government or care providers as to whether or not they can receive their most basic and fundamental rights … to feel love!!

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