Visiting and day trips: After the Government’s latest announcement of the loosening of lockdown restrictions, we are offering:
- In England: residents may leave care homes, that are free of any Covid outbreak, to visit a friend or family member’s garden, or go on walks in places such as parks, public gardens and beaches without the need to isolate on their return. A negative test result will be required. Guidance also allows for five constant, named visitors, with up to two visitors at each visit, for 30 minute pre-booked visits inside homes where the home is out of Covid outbreak and the visitor returns a negative test. This can include children over the age of 11. We are offering visits in our Covid-safe visiting suites as well as window and drive-up visits for all homes with the support of local public health teams.
- In Scotland, residents may leave care homes, that are free of any Covid outbreak, to visit a friend or family member’s garden, or go on walks in places such as parks, public gardens and beaches. A negative test result will be required. Guidance also allows for two designated weekly visitors, visiting at separate times, for up to 30 minutes inside homes that are out of Covid outbreak, if the visitor returns a negative test. We are also offering visits in our Covid-safe visiting suites as well as window and drive-up visits for all homes where we have approval from local health protection teams.
- For more detailed guidance on visiting please click here.
Vaccinations: We are delighted to report that over 92% of residents in our care homes have had their first vaccination, and many homes have already had their second dose, with further GP visits in the coming weeks. Around 89% of our colleagues have now been vaccinated and this number is growing every day as access to the vaccine improves. We have recently implemented a new recruitment policy to ensure all new joiners are vaccinated before they start work – an approach which has been welcomed by those who are keen to build a career with us.
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 seven 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.
All Care UK homes now have purpose-built internal or external visiting suites available which enable visits to take place from behind a sealed glass panel, using a sound system to assist with communication. Where Government guidance and local health teams allow, these suites make it possible to continue visiting even when we have a case of Covid-19 in the home.
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.
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 seven 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.