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

Let it be just leaves that fall in Canterbury this autumn

Friday 7 April 2017Media release4 minutes to read

The Canterbury Health System has made great progress in reducing the harm caused by falls but it's still a major cause of harm, both in hospitals and in the community. So what are we doing about it?

Along with other District Health Boards and with the backing of the Health Quality and Safety Commission, Canterbury DHB is promoting a number of April Falls initiatives.

Canterbury DHB Director Quality and Safety Susan Wood says staff have been challenged to come up with clever ways to raise awareness about how to reduce the risk of a vulnerable person having a fall.

“We want staff to come up with clever and creative ways of highlighting falls as an issue, and raising awareness of how to make them less likely to happen. So far we have displays and videos. In the past we have received poems, and even songs,” Susan says.

Canterbury DHB has recreated new graphics to support the falls prevention message, thanks to Waikato DHB, who shared their idea for an autumn leaves theme. 

The key message is that our ultimate aim is that nothing but leaves should fall this autumn,” Susan says.

“We have also put huge effort into communicating what needs to be done to prevent harm to at-risk adults through our Releasing Time to Care bedside ‘Patient Status at a Glance' Mobility Plans. Handover at the bedside and frequent checks by nurses are a really effective strategy for helping keep patients safe in our hospitals.”

Clinical lead for Falls Prevention in Canterbury Ken Stewart agrees but also stresses the importance of falls prevention initiatives in the community as part of a whole health system approach.

“We have an internationally acclaimed Community Falls Programme that makes use of referrals mainly from General Practice and the hospital to identify those most at risk in the community and connects them with a Falls Champion,” Ken says.

“Many of those most at risk are frail elderly, and they aren't just more likely to fall, the consequences can be devastating to their independence – broken hips are all too common and sometimes fatal.”

A Falls Champion visits a person's home to assess and help minimise home-based hazards: things like trailing cables, checking footwear has grip, securing mats or carpets, moving furniture that might be blocking where people walk most often, and increasing lighting levels.

There are other simple but less obvious actions that can help someone avoid a fall, such as placing the phone where it can be reached easily so older people don't fall hurrying to answer it, and making sure there is a light by the bed so that a person can go to the toilet safely during the night.

A Falls Champion – often a physiotherapist – will usually recommend an individually-tailored exercise routine to help build strength, balance and confidence. Over the past five years, Falls Champions have helped keep more than 6000 older Cantabrians living independently in their own homes.

“Other health professionals can help too: a pharmacist or GP team can help review medications to make sure they are taken at the right time and don't cause dizzy spells, and an optometrist can review a person's glasses prescription to make sure poor vision doesn't contribute to a fall.”

Since the programme began five years ago and compared with the figures expected for people 75 and older, Canterbury has had:

  • 2253 fewer ED attendances
  • 590 fewer broken hips
  • 37,683 more hospital beds days available for the care of others, due to reducing the number of older people needing hospital care due to a fall.

Since Canterbury DHB's Older Persons Health moved to Burwood, our data shows there has also been a 22 percent reduction in falls in just the first six months, which equates to 121 fewer falls compared to the same period in previous years.

“All of our work in preventing falls, whether in hospital or at home, is part of our health system's integrated approach to reducing the risk of harm to some of our community's most vulnerable people. When combined with other initiatives to prevent avoidable injuries and manage people's health in the community  our overall strategy of helping keep people well and at home is really working,” Ken says.



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Page last updated: 27 September 2018

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