Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions for families and friends

Why have I been unable to visit my loved one?

We took the difficult decision to restrict all non-essential visits to our care homes in March in order to minimise the risk of infection to our residents and to protect both them and the staff teams who care for them. A non-essential visit is a visit to any our homes by any person who is NOT a healthcare professional or Public Health official. 

Are there any special circumstances when visits are allowed?

If the health of your loved one is deteriorating, then a visit can be arranged. Any such visits will need to be discussed with the Home Manager or a member of the Home’s Senior Team.

How will you operate socially distanced garden visiting? 

As part of the government broadcast on June 22, it was announced that from Monday 6th July, people who are currently "clinically vulnerable" or shielding will be able to spend time outdoors in a group of up to six people, including those outside of their household, while maintaining physical distancing. We are therefore really pleased to be able to announce that we will be commencing socially-distanced garden visits in most of our homes from that date. 

 

Initially, socially distanced garden visits will happen in our homes that have been free of any infection for 28 days. When your home falls into this category, you will be advised directly by the home's individual team. Please keep in mind that until advised by your Home Manager, current visitor restrictions will remain in place.

 

In order to ensure that these visits are managed in the safest way possible for all concerned, there will be strict guidelines in place that we will ask you to adhere to. We will be operating a booking system and your Home Manager will be in contact very soon with full details. All of our homes are different, so there will be individual guidance for each home but the following will help you to understand how they will take place.

 

  • All visits to the care home can only take place in a designated area outside of the care home.
  • Each home will have a designated maximum number of adult visitors which will be dependent on the space available. We are unable to welcome children at this time.
  • We will be operating a strict appointment system so that we can safely manage additional visitors and ensure that we can prepare and clean after the visit.
  • All visitors will undergo a well-being check on arrival. You must not visit if you are feeling unwell for any reason.
  • Visits will be limited to 30 minutes to enable everyone to receive visitors equally
  • You will be required to supply and wear a facemask or face covering for the visit
  • You must remain at least two metres from any staff member at all times.
  • You will be asked to apply hand sanitiser on arrival at the home, and again when you leave.
  • You will be able to greet your loved one in the garden but must maintain a 2 metre social distance at all times.
  • We will provide seating which will be sanitised before and after your visit.
  • We may be able to offer refreshments, but these will be in disposable cups for visitors. Please do not bring in food and drink to share with your loved one. Any rubbish must be disposed of by you in the bin provided in the designated area.
  • The home’s guest toilet facilities will not be open for visits as this involves entering into the care home. In an urgent situation this should be discussed with a staff member.

 

We appreciate your continued support through strict adherence to these procedures to ensure that our residents, colleagues and you are protected as far as possible.

 

As always, the health and welfare of residents, colleagues and visitors remains our top priority. Thank you for your continued support and patience during these difficult times, and we look forward to being able to welcome you back to our homes very soon.

How can I keep in touch with my loved one if the home is closed?

For any of our homes that remain closed to visitors, our colleagues will do everything they can to ensure that life remains as comfortable and sociable as possible, and will use technology such as video calling to support relatives to maintain contact with their loved ones throughout this period.

How are residents being kept active?

Our activities and entertainment teams continue to run a regular schedule of daily activities to help keep our residents active, entertained and engaged. These are planned in keeping with social distancing policies. We are also making good use of our gardens, weather permitting, to ensure that residents have safe access to fresh air and outdoor exercise.

Do you have adequate food supplies in the homes?

All of our homes are well supplied with provisions from our usual suppliers with whom we have built up strong relationships over the years. Our supply chains remain as strong as ever but should we encounter any difficulties, we have contingency plans in place. We are ensuring that any deliveries to the home are made in a safe and controlled manner

How are you keeping residents and staff safe?

Every year we prepare to deal with infectious viruses like influenza and norovirus. As such, we already have robust policies in place to reduce the chances of viruses spreading and to minimise the risk to our residents. We are taking the coronavirus outbreak extremely seriously, however, and have updated our policies in line with UK Government advice. As well as limiting access inside our homes we have implemented further strict hygiene rules throughout our homes, including regular disinfection of frequently touched objects and surfaces and the use of PPE at all times to reduce the spread of infection. In addition, we are carrying out twice-daily temperature checks on all residents in order to detect at the earliest opportunity if a resident becomes unwell.

 

On arrival for their shift at the home, colleagues are being asked a series of health screening questions about their own health and that of their family before they have contact with residents, as well as having their temperature taken. We are also providing regular advice and guidance to colleagues as to how to keep themselves healthy, including the importance of social distancing when not working at the home.

Do you have adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment?

There has been much attention in the media about homes having no access to Personal Protective Equipment. We want to reassure you that all our colleagues have access to the full range of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment as set out in the guidance we receive from Public Health England. We have been working hard to secure adequate stocks and continue to have supplies delivered.

Do you have adequate staffing levels?

We want to pay tribute to our wonderful dedicated colleagues who continue to provide love, care and support to our residents during this difficult time. Although some of our colleagues have been unable to attend work through Government advised self-isolation, social distancing or shielding measures, our brilliant staff teams remain strong. In addition, we are continuing to successfully recruit new colleagues during this time.

Is Covid-19 testing available for staff and residents?

In mid-May, the government launched a new testing portal, which gives access to testing in care homes for all residents and colleagues - regardless of whether or not they are symptomatic. The portal has been designed to enable care homes to order home testing kits, where samples can be taken in the care home itself for all residents and staff, and will then be collected and sent for analysis. We are pleased to say that we now have access to testing in all of our homes, which enables us to better protect the health and welfare of our residents and colleagues. The home's senior team will keep you informed about testing in your home.

 

What happens if my loved one develops Covid-19?

If a resident develops the symptoms of Covid-19, they will immediately be isolated within their room to allow us to complete the period of isolation advised by the UK Government. We will contact our local health professionals as well as Public Health England to notify them of the resident’s illness and to seek their guidance. Our main priority is to provide care for the resident concerned as well as protecting staff and other residents from contracting the illness.

 

We will follow the strict protocols for the care and support of individuals with Covid-19, in line with all the latest Government guidance, including the use of full PPE for staff at all times. We will continue to closely monitor the resident and will seek further medical assistance where necessary.

 

We will inform the nominated Next of Kin immediately if their loved one becomes unwell and will provide regular updates on their health and wellbeing.

 

If you are worried about your loved one, then you can contact the Home Manager or a member of the Home’s Senior Team at any time

Will you be admitting new residents to the home?

We are now accepting new admissions into many of our care homes for those people whose care needs can no longer be met at home or in hospital. In doing so, the health and wellbeing of current residents remains our top priority, and we have therefore placed strict criteria on any new admissions which include:

  • Ensuring all new admissions from hospital will only be people deemed safe to be discharged from hospital and who have tested negative for Covid-19 at their point of discharge, but still need support in a community care setting;

  • Screening all admissions from those within the community to ensure that they are not displaying symptoms of Covid-19, have not been in contact with anybody who is confirmed or suspected of having Covid-19 within the last 14 days and have tested negative for Covid-19 just prior to their planned admission;

  • Placing any new residents into self-isolation for a period of fourteen days, as per Government and Public Health England guidance. Upon assessment, if a prospective resident cannot self isolate for any reason, then we will decline the admission to ensure the safety of current residents within the home;

  • Closely monitoring all new arrivals, with daily health and temperature checks;

  • We will not take admissions for new residents into any home that has been affected by Covid-19. We will re-evaluate the position once a home has been clear of any infection for at least 28 days;

This means that no person who has tested positive for the virus, or who is showing symptoms consistent with the virus, will be admitted to the care home.

For further information on new admissions, you can contact your local home directly, or call our central team on 01707 393293.

Have any of the homes been affected by Covid-19?

We are deeply saddened that some of our homes were impacted by Covid-19 and our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with all those who have been affected by this illness.

 

Where Covid-19 had been confirmed or suspected in one of our homes, our relatives were informed and updated regularly by the local teams. We understand that this has been an extremely difficult time for everybody and how hard it has been for those of you who have been unable to comfort your loved ones during this time. While we can never replace the love of relatives and friends, please know that our staff teams will continue to support and care for all our residents to the very best of our ability. 

 

We continue to work closely with our Local Authority and Health teams, and we are following all Government and Public Health England advice in relation to infection protection and control. We also want to assure you that we are continuing to do everything in our power to keep life as normal and enjoyable for residents as possible. 

 

If you have any concerns at all, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Home Manager.