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Adult nursing
Virtual visiting supports both the patient–family connection and infectious disease measures during restricted inpatient visiting
  1. Clare McCullagh
  1. Research Nurse, Southern Health & Social Care Trust, Craigavon Area Hospital, Craigavon, UK
  1. Correspondence to Clare McCullagh, Southern Health & Social Care Trust, Craigavon Area Hospital, Craigavon BT63 5QQ, UK;{at}

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Commentary on: Bloomer M, Walshe C. Smiles behind the masks: A systematic review and narrative synthesis exploring how family members of seriously ill or dying patients are supported during infectious disease outbreaks. Palliative Medicine. 2021;35(8):1452–1467.

Implications for practice and research

  • When infectious prevention policies require restricted visiting, a clear and manageable, consistent communication and information sharing plan should be agreed between the patient, family and healthcare team.

  • Additional research is required to translate how this plan could be practically incorporated into daily practice in busy healthcare environments.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Government and National Health Service (NHS) employed a reducing social contact strategy with the aim of reducing the spread of COVID-19 among healthcare staff and vulnerable patients. This approach altered the usual visiting practices for families and restricted families from visiting loved ones who were in hospital.1 This systematic review, conducted by Bloomer …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.