Visiting patients at St Andrew's

“Having my family visit, write or phone me helps my recovery."

A patient, St Andrew’s Northampton

All of our patients are entitled to maintain contact with, and be visited by, people they wish to see.


Keeping in touch with carers, friends and family can help a patient’s treatment and recovery. Here are some common questions people often ask when they want to visit St Andrew's.


Who do I talk to about arranging a visit?

Please speak to your relative's St Andrew's social worker.  Social workers keep a list of approved visitors for each patient so please check you are on this list before you visit. The first visit of any approved child must be supervised by a member of the social work team - this will then be reviewed for subsequent visits.

Children must be accompanied by an approved appropriate adult on visits to St Andrew's. Our team will need to complete a risk assessment before the visit to make sure children will be safe and seen in appropriate places.

If the social worker knows there are financial difficulties, staff may be able to help you with the cost of visiting. They can also help you plan your route, identifying which trains to catch, for example, or help arrange for you and a patient to meet away from St Andrew’s.

Parking on our sites, including disabled spaces, is very limited. If you are coming by car please ask staff about reserving spaces or parking permits for your visit.

We do have family accommodation for visitors to stay overnight. If you are interested in this speak to our staff to find out more.


What do I do when I arrive?

When you arrive at St Andrew’s please go to reception. The staff at reception will take your photograph and give you a visitor's badge to wear during your visit. The team will be told you have arrived and will arrange for an escort to meet you.


What about CCTV and privacy?

We use CCTV across our sites and there will be signs to let you know if this is being used in an area you are visiting. At our Northampton site security staff wear portable CCTV cameras; these are used to record incidents.

To keep everyone safe our team has to decide whether a member of staff should be an escort and observer during your visit. Some visits by children must be supervised in the child’s best interests because of the nature of the environment.

Social workers may act as escorts on home visits, when their role is to assess risk and to support families, carers and the patient to have a successful visit.


What about other ways of staying in touch?

We use Skype (free version) to help patients keep in touch with family, friends and carers. Please ask social workers if you would like to book calls to a patient using this system, or download a leaflet for more information. We also have an easy read version.

You can also keep in touch by sending letters and using the telephone.


What sort of things should I bring with when I visit?

Please bring photo ID with you when you visit.  If you have been given a parking permit please bring this to display in your vehicle.


What should I leave at home when I visit?

Each of our sites has a list of specific items that you cannot bring into the unit. Please ask the unit's staff or the security team for the most up-to-date list. There are lockers at each of our receptions where you can leave handbags and other small personal belongings like mobile phones or wallets and keys.


What about food and visits?

For health and safety reasons we cannot allow homemade food into living areas, only into the Visiting Rooms. If you do bring home-made food, it can be eaten during the visit. It cannot usually be stored to be eaten later – storage facilities are very limited and we have to meet health, safety and environmental legal requirements.  Arrangements may vary between units and buildings. Social workers can help carers to plan visits by advising about food being brought in for particular buildings and patients.


When can a visit be refused or cancelled?

A visit may be cancelled if a patient is not well enough to see visitors or if the unit has an outbreak of an infectious illness like flu or diarrhoea and vomiting. This is to help keep everyone safe.

Sometimes a visit may be 'counter-therapeutic' in the short term or long term. This means it could harm a patient’s mental health. Or it means that the staff are concerned the visitor’s safety will be at risk from the patient. So a visit may be refused or cancelled. This is to keep everyone safe.

We may refuse to allow a visitor to come to the unit if their past behaviour has been disruptive or because they seem to be drunk or under the influence of drugs when they arrive at St Andrew’s. Refusing a visit for these reasons only happens rarely.

If someone's name is not on the Visitors Management Plan they will not be allowed to visit with the patient, even if they arrive with the required forms of identification.