Hospital visiting guidelines updated 20 July 2022: Hospital visitors must wear a surgical/medical paper mask. Fabric face coverings are no longer acceptable. See our COVID-19 pages for detailed information about hospital visiting guidelines, COVID-19 tests and care in the community advice. See for information about vaccinations.

We are at ORANGE according to the NZ COVID-19 Protection Framework

Last updated:
20 July 2022

Mask exemptions accepted for people seeking treatment
Any member of the public with a mask exemption is welcome in all our facilities when attending to receive health care and *treatment. Please show your mask exemption card and appointment letter to staff at the entrance.

*Treatment includes: coming into the Emergency Department, outpatient appointments,  surgery or a procedure.

For visitors to all facilities effective from Wednesday 20 July 2022

With the recent resurgence in cases in Canterbury, largely due to the Omicron BA.5 subvariant we are seeing an increase in demand right across the health system. Presentations to our Christchurch ED and Ashburton’s AAU are higher than ever and admission rates are high, which means we have a shortage of resourced beds.

Recently, we have seen too many unwell people coming to visit someone in hospital and too many that cannot or will not wear a medical mask. This increases the risk to vulnerable people in hospital. For these reasons we need to everything we can to minimise these risks.

We have therefore tightened visitor restrictions for all Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury hospitals and health facilities.

Kia whakahaumaru te whānau, me ngā iwi katoa – this is to keep everybody safe:

  • One visitor per patient in the hospital at any given time, except where stated otherwise in the ‘exceptions’ section below.
  • No visitors under 16 to any part of our facilities.
  • No visitors to COVID +ve patients other than in exceptional circumstances.
  • No eating or drinking at the bedside or anywhere other than cafes or areas designated for eating/drinking, as taking your mask off puts patients at risk.
  • Visitors or support people must not visit our facilities if they are unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms (even if they have tested negative) or have had a recent tummy bug.
  • Do not visit if you are COVID +ve or a household contact of someone who has tested positive
  • Surgical/medical masks must be worn at all times at all sites and will be provided if people don’t have them. Mask exemptions do not apply in our facilities – people who cannot tolerate a mask cannot visit at this time.
  • Hand sanitiser stations are visible and must be used.

By sticking to the rules above, you help keep our patients, staff, other visitors and yourself safe. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as our staff work hard to protect and care for some of the most vulnerable in our community.

Exceptions to the ‘one visitor’ policy

  • Exceptions can apply in some circumstances where trusted whānau members provide assistance, reassurance and other support for therapeutic care or on compassionate grounds – please talk to the ward’s Charge Nurse to discuss this before you come to hospital to visit. For whānau with an essential support role as a Partner in Care – again, please check with the ward’s Charge Nurse before you come to hospital to visit.
  • People attending Christchurch ED or Ashburton AAU can have one support person with them.
  • Women in labour and in the birthing suite can have two named support people + their community LMC/midwife if they have one – for the duration of the birth only. All other women on the Maternity Ward are allowed one support person for the duration of their stay in our facilities at Christchurch Women’s Hospital and other maternity units. Only one support person can be with each woman in the maternity ward, and one support person for maternity clinic appointments. No under 16s are allowed to visit or attend appointments.
  • Parents/caregivers can be with their baby in NICU.
  • Parents/caregivers are able to be with their child in hospital (Except Children’s Haematology and Oncology Day patients where only one parent or caregiver is permitted).
  • People requiring support when attending an appointment can have one support person. Please let the relevant service know if you need this so they are able to accommodate your request.

Visiting patients with COVID-19

  • To avoid them becoming infected with COVID-19 and passing it one, visitors to COVID-19 positive patients will not be allowed except in extenuating circumstances – by prior agreement with the Charge Nurse Manager only, and wearing an N95 mask.
  • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, facetime, zoom etc.

You must NOT visit the hospital if you

  • are a household contact of a COVID-19 positive case
  • are COVID-19 positive
  • Have a cold or flu/COVID-19-like symptoms (even if you are testing negative for COVID-19)

Exceptions for people with disabilities

An exception will be made for people with disabilities who are in hospital or have to attend an outpatient appointment – where they need a support person to access health services. For example, a sign language interpreter, support person for someone with a learning disability, or someone to assist with mobility. The support person is in addition to the one permitted visitor.

Everyone visiting our facilities must wear a mask, no exceptions

While we appreciate that some people have legitimate reasons for being exempt from wearing a mask and may even have an official card to confirm this, people who cannot or will not wear a mask cannot visit someone in hospital or attend hospital, other than to access healthcare treatment*. This is another measure to minimise the risk to vulnerable patients.

*healthcare treatment includes: Emergency Department care, outpatient appointments, surgery or a procedure. 

Patients and visitors should also read the additional more detailed visiting guidelines for each specific hospital.

More COVID-19 information

April Falls month underway: Taking falls prevention seriously

Thursday 2 April 2015Media release4 minutes to read

Canterbury District Health Board is joining other New Zealand DHBs this April as part of the Health Quality and Safety Commission's drive to reduce falls and the harm they cause.

Sandy Blake, the Clinical Lead for the Commission's national programme to reduce harm from falls, says 90 percent of falls occur in the community, with many people requiring hospital treatment.

“For every fall in hospital, there are five in Aged Residential Care and another 40 at home and in the community. Between 2010 and 2012, a total of 200 people fell and broke their hips while in hospital.”

Sandy says older people have a higher risk of falling than others but this can be reduced.

“One of the most important things people can do to keep themselves safe is to ask for help when they need it,” she says.

Preventing falls is a key focus for the Canterbury health system all year round, the April Falls initiative provides an opportunity to raise awareness among staff and public.

Dr Nigel Millar, Canterbury Chief Medical Officer is a strong advocate for initiatives that lead to better health outcomes for Canterbury people and take Canterbury health system closer to its goal of zero harm.

“Our message is simple: Falls affect everyone, and everyone can help,” Dr Millar says.

“If you don't see yourself as someone at risk, you will know someone who is – a friend, neighbour or elderly relative perhaps.”

As part of April Falls, Canterbury DHB has challenged hospital staff to produce the most eye catching displays and to involve visitors and patients in conversations about keeping them safe.

“We are also calling for nominations for Falls Champions in our hospitals, staff who identify people most at risk and involve them in an individualised strategy to keep them safe while they are with us, and after they leave,” Dr Millar says.

“Falls can happen anywhere and to anyone, which is why we have put energy and investment into our Community Falls Programme. The good news is that there are simple things people can do at home or with help or advice from a health professional to help keep them safe.”

People at risk may be referred, usually by their General Practice Team or as they leave hospital, and assigned their own Falls Champion.

“Their Falls Champion can then visit them at home and begin by assessing their home environment for hazards that could lead to a fall – such as loose carpets, trailing cables or items on the floor where people walk. There may also be places such as steps, toilets or showers where a handrail would help.”

Later in the process, a Falls Champion may be able to suggest a number of community level interventions:

  • simple exercises to improve strength and balance
  • a medication review managed by a community pharmacist or General Practice team, to make sure meds are not making a fall more likely
  • talking to a doctor about vitamin D supplements to strengthen bones
  • an eye check by an optometrist – blurred vision can affect balance

Look out for colourful April Falls displays in Canterbury hospitals during April and think about whether anyone close to you could benefit from your help to prevent them from falling. Something as simple as helping them access quality advice on HealthInfo and Health Quality and Safety Commission (HQSC), or encouraging them to talk a health professional could make all the difference a health professional could make all the difference.

“If we can prevent just one fall by raising awareness and communicating simple strategies for at risk people to stay safe in our community, then our April Falls work will have been worth it,” Dr Millar says.

Additional information
Earlier this week the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) confirmed they are accepting an astonishing 500+ falls-related claims a day from people aged 50 and over. They also said people aged 85 and over were twice as likely to have an ACC claim for a fall as those aged 50 to 64 – and 15 times more likely to be admitted to hospital as a result.

Although people aged 85 and over make up just 5 percent of the 50-plus age group, they accounted for nearly half of hip fractures relating to a fall.


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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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