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

Voice-activated help for some Canterbury hospital patients

Tuesday 5 February 2019Media release4 minutes to read

A Burwood Hospital nurse, right, with orthopaedic rehab patient Neil Milne during testing of a new voice-activated patient call system.

A Burwood Hospital nurse, right, with orthopaedic rehab patient Neil Milne during testing of a new voice-activated patient call system.

From today some patients at Christchurch’s Burwood Hospital will be using smart speakers to assist with contacting a nurse. The new system will work in the same way as ‘smart speakers’ where you can ask for the weather forecast, to change the TV channel or to turn up the volume.

Canterbury DHB will become the first health authority in New Zealand and only the second in the world to use a voice-activated patient response tool when it pilots the DeloitteASSIST system across two wards at Burwood Hospital from today.

Designed to help patients communicate with their care teams, DeloitteASSIST is a solution to help make life easier for patients, says Burwood Hospital General Manager Dan Coward.

“We’re excited to be part of this pilot which uses technology to help patients get the support they need sooner.  As the system recognises some specific set commands, nurses responding to a patient’s request will have a better idea of what the patient needs and come prepared, rather than responding to a call bell, then going off to get whatever may be required.

“Saving patients’ and staff time is an important way of enhancing the experience of our inpatients. At Burwood many of our patients are with us for months as they recover from serious injuries. I think they will enjoy the ability to request information, music and other entertainment from DeloitteASSIST by using simple voice commands.”

The device processes their voice command, automatically prioritising requests and sending the information to a tablet docked at the nurses’ station. The system uses the same platform that has transformed the delivery of Canterbury DHB’s HR services and better enabled orderlies across the DHB.

With DeloitteASSIST, patients can ask for assistance in using the bathroom, to ask the care team for help, or to request a glass of water and other simple requests. These requests are associated with priorities and escalation times determined by Burwood Hospital to help nurses and healthcare assistants focus care where it is most needed.

The smart speaker system understands multiple accents, and has some other functions like setting alarms for patients to remind them when to take their medication. It can give the weather forecast, play music, and even tell jokes on demand.

Beginning today in the Older Persons Health and Rehabilitation ward D1, DeloitteASSIST will also be used in the Burwood Spinal Unit and the Transitional Rehab Unit in the coming weeks. These wards have been chosen because patients here typically require more assistance due to mobility issues.

The People and Capability team at Canterbury DHB are focused on the future of work and improving the employee experience, says Acting Chief People Officer Paul Lamb. “This is another great example of working in partnership across the organisation in our commitment to making work, work better for our people so that they can focus on caring for our patients. We know that when work works better, care works better.”

DeloitteASSIST was first launched at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney in April 2018, after Robert Spittle, a partner with leading professional services firm Deloitte, wanted to improve traditional nurse call buttons.

Spittle’s father had a fall while in hospital care – so he designed a system to improve the way care teams respond to patient requests.

Deloitte New Zealand partner Matt Dalton is running the project in New Zealand, and says the system is a great example of technology improving workflow, and making a positive impact on the lives of patients and staff.

“In New Zealand, and Canterbury in particular, we are seeing increased pressure on hospitals and healthcare professionals. DeloitteASSIST looks to change patient to nurse communication using advanced technologies including natural language processing and machine learning, which is the ability of a computer to understand and analyse language and improve its knowledge over time. Our aim is to improve the patient experience and make work easier for the nurses and healthcare assistants who look after them.”

Currently DeloitteASSIST can respond to 17 different categories of commands, and patients will still have their nurse call buttons available, too.



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Page last updated: 18 February 2019

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