Coronavirus information | Care UK

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Coronavirus information

The Government’s announcement of a national lockdown in England has come into effect from the 5th of November.   We have now received guidance on how this lockdown affects visits to care homes and details of our approach during lockdown is outlined below.

Keeping our homes safe

As the national situation regarding the pandemic develops, 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.  A few of our key focus areas from this plan are included below.

  1. Our teams are following guidance around social distancing, respiratory and hand hygiene measures and the correct wearing of PPE
  2. We have maintained a high level of stock for PPE, cleaning and decontamination items and continue to source from multiple suppliers to reduce the risk of any future shortages
  3. We have been taking advantage of all available testing, ensuring colleagues have a weekly Covid-19 test and residents are tested once a month wherever possible
  4. We have introduced protocols to support family visits that are as safe and enjoyable as possible for all involved whilst complying with Government guidance, and are continuing to invest in new technologies to maintain family connections
  5. Any new residents must have a test within 48 hours of admission and show proof of a negative result before coming into the home.  All new admissions are cared for in their rooms for 14 days to reduce the risk of new cases coming into the home
  6. We have appointed two senior nurses to the role of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Lead to provide additional scrutiny and support at a national level and are training an IPC Champion for each home to support colleagues in their understanding of, and compliance with, our approaches to IPC, cleanliness and hygiene.
  7. We have invested in new thermal imaging cameras to provide faster and more accurate temperature checks,  air purifiers which sink virus particles to the floor where they can be cleaned more easily and fogging machines which provide an  added layer of reassurance by disinfecting visiting rooms and other enclosed spaces. 
  8. Should there be a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19 in one of our homes, the home will move into ‘Outbreak’ status and follow an Outbreak Management Plan which includes elements like closing communal areas within the home, postponing visits and tighter cohorting of colleagues and residents into smaller social bubbles.
  9. We have measures in place to limit the number of non-essential people coming into our homes, including a strong focus on reducing agency workers, ensuring our teams only work in one care home and postponing all non-essential visits
  10. Our housekeeping teams are receiving additional support to deliver enhanced cleaning regimes using the high quality decontamination equipment and cleaning and hygiene products

Relative visits to our homes

We firmly believe that maintaining family and social connections is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of care home residents.  We are absolutely committed to ensuring residents in our homes are able to enjoy visits from their family and friends wherever possible while complying with lockdown restrictions.

Where visiting is not possible, we will do our utmost to keep residents in touch with families using a wide range of tools.  This includes regular updates on the Facebook page for individual homes, as well as using new tablets and Facebook portals for Zoom, Skype and phone calls. Our home teams have a range of different channels to allow everyone to share family news and updates and they are working tirelessly to make this happen.

For our homes across England:

The Government has emphasised the importance of balancing the need for family visits with protecting the safety and wellbeing of those living and working in our homes.  With this in mind, we will be taking a two-tiered approach to visits within our care homes in England.

For homes that are in ‘Outbreak’ status – ie a resident or a member of staff has tested positive within 28 days or is experiencing symptoms which could indicate coronavirus – we will support shielded outdoor visits in the form of either drive-by or closed window visits.  We will also continue to provide visits in the home in exceptional circumstances, such as where a resident is on end of life. 

For those homes that are not currently in ‘Outbreak’ status, we will provide shielded outdoor visits as well as in-person garden visits and internal visits in those care homes where our dynamic risk assessment confirms we are able to provide a covid secure environment.  We will continue to provide visits inside the home in exceptional circumstances such as for end of life care.

In all cases, local Health Protection Teams may feel that the level of risk in the local community is particularly high and may ask us to postpone visits or adapt our approach.  In these cases, we will always follow their guidance.

To enable our teams to facilitate visits effectively, we will continue to follow the same health screening and infection control measures that have been in place for the last few months. 

  • All visits must be pre-booked to enable us to manage them safely and ensure the appropriate cleaning and hygiene regimes are in place
  • Visits will be for a maximum of half an hour for up to two visitors.  Children over the age of eight can take part in garden visits.
  • You will be asked some health screening questions at the start of your visit, will be asked to wash your hands or use the sanitising gel provided and will have your temperature taken. 
  • If you are showing any symptoms which could indicate coronavirus, please do not travel to the care home as we will need to refuse entry. As you will be aware, these symptoms include a raised temperature, a new and persistent cough, a loss of taste or smell and a generally feeling of being lethargic and unwell.  
  • You will be asked to wear a face mask and practice social distancing for the duration of your visit. Unfortunately, this means no kissing, hugging or holding hands at present.
  • To protect the people we are caring for, residents cannot yet accept gifts, flowers or food under current guidelines
  • Visitors will not be able to use facilities such as coffee shops and toilets (unless for emergencies), however refreshments will be provided by care home colleagues

In our Scottish care homes:

For homes that are not under lockdown due to local restrictions or someone in the home having tested positive or showing symptoms that might indicate coronavirus:

  • We can provide visits of up to thirty minutes either inside the home for one constant visitor or in the garden for up to three visitors from a maximum of two different households. 
  • Where previously we had committed to offering each resident a minimum of one visit per week, we are now extending this to offer the opportunity of both one internal visit and (where weather permits) one garden visit per week to ensure all families can see their loved ones.
  • All visits must be booked in advance to enable us to manage them safely and ensure the appropriate cleaning and hygiene regimes are in place
  • If you come for one of these visits you will be asked some health screening questions at the start of your visit, will be asked to wash your hands or use the sanitising gel provided and will have your temperature taken. If you are showing any symptoms which could indicate coronavirus, please do not travel to the care home as we will need to refuse entry. As you will be aware, these symptoms include a raised temperature, a new and persistent cough, a loss of taste or smell and a generally feeling of being lethargic and unwell. 
  • You will be asked to wear a face mask and practice social distancing for the duration of your visit. Unfortunately, this means no kissing, hugging or holding hands at present.
  • To protect the people we are caring for, residents cannot yet accept gifts, flowers or food under current guidelines as the virus can stay on surfaces for many days.
  • Visitors will not be able to use facilities such as coffee shops and toilets (unless for emergencies), however refreshments will be provided by care home colleagues.

Full details of how your visit will be managed will be provided by the home manager as each home is able to accept visitors.

Other visitors to our homes

The exact rules about other visitors to our homes will depend on the local guidance. Please be assured that essential visits from, health professionals like doctors and district nurses or people repairing critically important equipment are going ahead but they will only do so under stringent IPC measures.

New admissions

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 and will be required to show a negative result before coming into the home.  We will also undertake a full health screening on admission and are continuing with our 14 day shielding programme in which new residents are cared for in their rooms for the first two weeks of their stay to avoid the risk of introducing new infections into the home. We are not participating in any programmes whereby Covid-19 patients are discharged to care homes for recovery. 

New residents will be supported under our Fourteen Day 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.

Testing

Testing is one of the most important tools we have to protect those living and working in our homes in the coming months. The weekly tests for team members and monthly tests for residents are taking place in most of our homes.  While we are facing occasional regional challenges, we are confident the testing programme is providing the level of support we require.

A big thank you

We’d like to say a big thank you for the understanding of families and friends of residents over the constantly changing situation regarding visits – it’s not an easy situation for home teams to manage and your patience and goodwill has been much appreciated.

We would also like to thank the families and local communities that have supported our homes over the last few months. Many of our home teams have received cards, gifts and other messages of support which have given everyone in that home a little lift. Your kindness and generosity has been greatly appreciated and we want to say thank you again.

Finally, we would like to say a very public thank you to our colleagues who have worked tirelessly in the last few months to provide exceptional levels of care. We are incredibly grateful for the commitment and dedication of our teams – they are the people that make our care homes special.

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