The safety of residents, colleagues and visitors continues to be our priority
Following new Government guidance in England, each resident can nominate three friends or family members to visit them where the home is out of any Covid outbreak. In addition, their registered essential care giver (ECG) may visit at any time, totalling four regular visitors.
In Scotland, each resident can nominate three essential visitors, currently from a maximum of two households at any one time, who can visit regularly.
In Wales, there is no restriction regarding nominated visitors, but the Welsh Government recommend visits are limited to those who know the resident well.
Nominated (named) visitors should remain the same, barring an exceptional change in circumstance.
Where families would like to organise larger gatherings, or a greater number of occasional visitors, we use our covid-safe visiting suites, as well as facilitating drive-up or window visits and continuing to support regular phone and video calls.
It is preferred that visitors are double vaccinated, unless they are medically exempt, and that they return a negative test on the day of their visit. If unvaccinated, please discuss visiting arrangements with your home manager.
To comply with new guidance, we will be risk assessing residents leaving the home to visit friends and family. Residents who have had all three vaccinations and who are visiting small family groups (of named visitors) will be deemed low risk, must have a negative lateral flow test on the day of the visit and can return to the home as normal.
It is not recommended for unvaccinated residents to go out. If they do go out, they will need to self-isolate for a period of 14 days upon their return, undertaking testing every other day during this period. Please note, high risk environments also include any unplanned visits to hospitals.
Our primary focus is to take all possible steps to safeguard residents, visitors and colleagues from the virus, limit its spread and minimise the impact it could have on the care provided to residents whilst supporting residents and their loved ones to continue with regular visiting and trips outside of the home.
We understand that trips out play an important part in maintaining health and wellbeing and we will support outings for residents who have had all three vaccinations. We will risk assess any external visits or trips away from the home to ensure we are avoiding larger crowds and take other measures to minimise the likelihood of infection.
Similar risk assessments will be taken on some elements of our lifestyle and activities programmes, such as social events or entertainment taking place in smaller groups, rather than bringing the whole home together.
Trips will need to be pre-booked in advance with your loved one’s home to discuss and agree plans within the current guidance, which will then be documented within the resident’s care plan.
For internal visits to take place, the home has to be clear of any Covid outbreak. For clarity, in England, Scotland and Wales this means 14 days since the last suspected or confirmed resident or colleague case.
If there has been a recent outbreak in the home of your loved one, your home manager will be able to advise when we expect indoor visiting will be possible.
Where we have the agreement of local health teams, we will be continuing visits in our Covid-safe visiting suites, garden, window and drive by visits, when a home is in outbreak.
One friend or family member can be nominated as an essential care giver, offering the resident additional support during visits. Essential care givers can continue to visit when a home is in outbreak to support the health, physical and psychological wellbeing of a resident, this includes end of life visiting. They will be required to use PPE and follow testing and infection control protocols for the home.
Before your visit starts you must have evidence of a negative lateral flow device (LFD) test on the day of the visit, or proof that you are within the 90-day period post Covid infection and no longer have symptoms. Named essential care givers (ECG) may visit daily regardless of the homes outbreak status and will follow the same testing regime as colleagues working in the home.
You may choose to test at home prior to a visit using tests acquired directly from the Government Coronavirus portal or from your local pharmacist, these tests must be registered online and the result seen and recorded at the start of the visit in addition to completing the health monitoring forms.
If you are unable to take and record the test result yourself, you will be asked to take a LFD test on arrival at the home and wait 20 minutes for confirmation of a negative result before visiting. If this is the case, where possible, please call the home from your car so one of our colleagues can come outside to perform the test. If you are arriving by public transport, please advise the home when booking your appointment so the home manager can talk through the alternative processes we have in place.
Unfortunately, if your test does return a positive result or if your health screen suggests you might have symptoms, we will be unable to proceed with your visit.
We will advise you to visit a local testing centre for confirmation via a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test. This will be the case for all visits inside the home, including exceptional visits during end of life care.
If your LFD test is negative, you will be supplied with PPE in the form of a disposable mask and will be escorted to see your loved one. Please do not remove your PPE for the duration of your visit or venture into other areas of the home – this will ensure we are efficient and effective with cleaning and infection control processes.
We recognise some people may find the PPE uncomfortable to wear and some residents, particularly those living with dementia, may find the masks confusing. For these families, our Covid-safe visiting suites or garden visits may prove to be a better option as they do not require you to wear any PPE.
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, Scottish or Welsh 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.
We are delighted that 96% of residents in our care homes and all of our colleagues are double vaccinated, with booster doses being given. We were one of the first care providers to implement 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 homes are still accepting new admissions but with a few extra measures to keep everyone as safe as possible.
All new residents are to be fully vaccinated, subject to any medical exemptions and need to return a negative Covid-19 test result, at most, 72 hours prior to admission. There is no longer a requirement for new residents to shield in their rooms on arrival as long as they have not had any recent known contact with positive Covid cases.
We will also undertake a further test and a full health screening on admission day and further tests at three and seven days later.
Should a resident be admitted from another care home, require an overnight stay in hospital or have been on a visit outside of the home identified as high risk, they will need to shield for 14 days on their return.