Over the past 20 years, visiting policies within adult care settings have progressed from strictly enforced times to more flexible arrangements. The Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care (SCRC, 2003) advocates open visiting in hospices, which allows access at all times of day. However, little research has been carried out to investigate the assumption that an ‘open visiting’ policy in a hospice benefits patients and carers and improves the quality of care. This article describes the first strand of a qualitative exploratory study designed to evaluate the impact that open visiting has on patients and the multidisciplinary team in a hospice. A purposive sample of ten inpatients was interviewed. Data were analysed thematically. Patients acknowledged the benefits of contact with family and friends, such as maintaining links with the outside world and improvement in mood. However, they also reported that visitors could be intrusive and, depending on the nature of the relationship, were not always sensitive to cues that the patient was tiring or in pain. Patients indicated a need for more control of visiting arrangements, particularly related to timing, visitor numbers and restrictions on who could visit. These data will contribute to the second strand of the study which involves interviewing multidisciplinary team members
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