Thanks to an incredible, round the clock effort by managers working in its central support office, Care UK has just installed and opened its 90th visitor facility to allow the family and friends of care home residents to visit in complete safety.
The 90 new facilities have all been designed with a Covid-safe specification that keeps the air between the two sides completely separate. This generally allows visits to go ahead even if a home has had people test positive for coronavirus and means that no tests are required before a visit can go ahead.
The homes have been warmly welcomed by families who are enjoying seeing loved ones and swapping news and memories. Care home teams have reported laughter, singing and even a few tears as people are reunited and the demand for visiting slots is understandably very high.
The 90 new facilities take one of two forms:
- An indoor visiting suite within the existing walls of the home that is accessible from outdoors without the need for visitors to cross the threshold of the home.
- A standalone visiting suite situated close to the home in its garden. These have been installed in homes that do not have a suitable space in the existing building and are fully equipped with both electricity and heating.
Care UK expects every home to have a visiting suite in all of our 124 homes by the end of January.
The pods and suites have to be pre-booked and can accommodate up to two visitors. As they are not coming into contact with residents or care home colleagues, visitors do not have to wear masks inside the suite and there is no need for them to have a temperature check or complete the usual health screening questions. The area on each side of the screen is thoroughly cleaned and sanitised between each visit.
Whilst being mindful of infection control measures, care home teams have worked hard to make the visiting suites as welcoming and comfortable as possible – especially at this festive time.
Commenting on Care UK’s Twitter feed, one relative praised the visiting suite at her mother’s home saying “I got to see my mum today for the time since June. She wore her glittery green Christmas top for the occasion. It was as lovely as it could be without hugging or holding hands. Thanks to Care UK.”
Care UK’s homes are also in the process of getting the new lateral flow tests that will also allow visitors who have tested negative to enjoy a visit indoors sitting together with their loved one without a screen. However, Government guidelines understandably say these tests and in person visits cannot go ahead if a home has had either a colleague or resident recently test positive or display symptoms of Covid-19. The benefit of the visiting suites is that they mean visiting can often continue even in the event of an outbreak if the home team is able to accommodate the necessary booking and cleaning and the route a resident needs to take through the home doesn’t involve passing through an area where someone has tested positive. .
Many homes are also providing shielded outdoor visits either through windows or via drive-by visits and exceptional visits are also taking place – for example when someone is nearing the end of their life.