National lockdown: Government guidance currently states that for the safety of care home residents, no close-contact indoor visits can take place. We will continue to use visiting suites where possible, but will be unable to support other visits inside the home unless in exceptional circumstances.
Rapid Testing: We are being extra vigilant in monitoring our teams for signs of the virus using rapid result tests as well as PCR tests. Rapid testing will also be used to support additional visits in homes that are outbreak free when out of lockdown. Our regular PCR testing programme continues to safeguard residents.
Vaccinations: GPs and NHS health care professionals are now vaccinating residents and care home staff during visits to our care homes. Timing of the vaccinations is driven by GPs, but we are doing all we can to support what is proving to be an effective process. We recognise that both vaccines require a second dose before they are fully effective and as such, do not anticipate any significant changes to our current ways of working until the second dose has been delivered.
Our number one priority remains the safety and wellbeing of everyone living and working in our care homes.
Since the early stages of the pandemic, our teams have been working to a pandemic plan which is updated regularly to reflect any changes to either UK or Scottish government guidance. This plan includes a range of measures aimed at both reducing the likelihood of new Covid-19 infections and reducing the spread of infections where they occur. Our key focus areas from this plan are included below.
- Our teams are following guidance around social distancing, respiratory and hand hygiene measures and the correct wearing of PPE.
- We have maintained a high stock level of PPE, cleaning and decontamination items and continue to source from multiple suppliers to reduce the risk of any future shortages.
- We have been taking advantage of all available testing, ensuring colleagues have three weekly Covid-19 tests and residents are tested at least once a month.
- We have introduced protocols to support family visits that, when possible under Government guidance, are as safe and enjoyable as possible for all involved. We are continuing to invest in new technologies to maintain family connections.
- We are not accepting Covid-positive admissions and ask all new residents to have a test prior to admission. All new admissions are cared for in their rooms for a minimum of 7 days to reduce the risk of new cases.
- We have appointed two senior nurses as Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Leads to provide additional scrutiny and support at a national level and there is an IPC Champion for each home to support colleagues in their understanding of, and compliance with, our approaches to IPC, cleanliness and hygiene.
- We have invested in new thermal imaging cameras to provide faster and more accurate temperature checks; air purifiers and fogging machines to provide added layers of reassurance to residents and visitors.
- Should there be a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19 in one of our homes, the home will follow an Outbreak Management Plan which includes additional safety and IPC protocols.
- While essential visits from health professionals and people repairing critically important equipment are still going ahead, we have measures in place to limit the number of non-essential people coming into our homes. This includes a strong focus on reducing agency workers, ensuring our teams only work in one care home and postponing all non-essential visits.
- Our housekeeping teams are receiving additional support to deliver enhanced cleaning regimes using high quality decontamination equipment and hygiene products.
Keeping in touch
Teams in our homes are working hard to find ways to keep residents in touch with their loved ones. Visiting options vary from home to home depending on the levels of risk in each home and the local community.
We are doing our utmost to keep residents connected to their loved ones using a wide range of tools. This includes regular updates on the Facebook page for the majority of homes, as well as using new tablets for Zoom, Skype and phone calls.
The majority of Care UK homes now have an internal or external visiting suite available which enables visits to take place from behind a sealed glass panel, using a sound system to assist with communication. Where Government guidance and local Public Health teams allow, these suites make it possible to continue visiting even when we have a case of Covid-19 in the home. We are doing all we can to get these in place as quickly as possible for the remaining homes.
All visits must be pre-booked to enable us to manage them safely and ensure the appropriate cleaning and hygiene regimes are in place. This also enables our teams to identify which type of visit is best suited to you and your loved one and to take you through the protocols we have in place to protect everyone involved. If you are showing any symptoms which could indicate coronavirus, please do not travel to the care home as you will not be able to proceed with your visit.
Rapid testing kits are still being rolled out by the Department of Health and Social Care in England and by the Government in Scotland. These tests are providing an additional layer of reassurance for residents and colleagues and enabling us to identify asymptomatic cases of the virus very early on. Once the national lockdown has lifted, these tests will enable us to offer additional visits inside our homes.
Our homes are still accepting new admissions but with a few extra measures to keep everyone as safe as possible.
All new residents are being asked to take a test for the virus prior to admission. We will also undertake a full health screening on admission and are continuing with our shielding programme in which new residents are cared for in their rooms for a minimum of 7 days to avoid the risk of introducing new infections into the home. We are not participating in any programmes whereby Covid-19 patients in hospital are discharged to care homes for recovery.
New residents will be supported under our New Resident Promise. This promise ensures new residents do not feel isolated and includes support for daily video or phone calls with family, an enhanced in-room dining service, family involvement in care planning and a personalised lifestyle and activities programme agreed upon arrival.