Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions for families and friends

Why have I been unable to visit my loved one?

Over the course of the pandemic, Government-led restrictions on care home visiting have been in place in order to minimise the risk of infection to our residents and to protect both them and the staff teams who care for them. Following the initial closure in March to non-essential visitors, the Government has introduced limited and closely managed visiting into care homes in recognition of the importance of maintaining vital contact between families and their loved ones. However, all visits can only take place in homes that have been free of infection for 14 days and may be withdrawn following advice from our local Directors of Public Health, or as a result of local or national lockdown restrictions.

Are there any special circumstances for allowing visiting?

Throughout the pandemic, we have enabled visiting for residents in special circumstances, such as the deteriorating health of a loved one. Any such visits will need to be discussed with the Home Manager or a member of the Home’s Senior Team.

How do you operate visits to the home?

We are able to offer a range of visiting options in our homes including window visiting, visits in enclosed visiting pods, garden visits and indoor visits for up to 5 designated visitors. 

In order to ensure that all visits are managed in the safest way possible for all concerned, there are strict guidelines in place that we ask you to adhere to. We are operating a booking system and all bookings need to be made with the Home Manager or one of the senior team.

All care homes are different, and so we carry out risk assessments which result in individual guidance for each home, which will be provided by your Home Manager. The following general principles will help you to plan your visit: 

  • All visits to the care home can only take place in a designated area or in one of our internal/external Pods

  • We operate 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 and your information will be taken for track and trace purposes. You must not visit if you are feeling unwell for any reason.

  • You will be asked to apply hand sanitiser on arrival at the home, and again when you leave

  • For window visits, the window must remain closed at all times

  • Visits may be limited to 30-45 minutes to enable everyone to receive visitors equally

  • You will be required to supply and wear a face mask or face covering for some or all of your visit. If you do not have a face mask or covering, then we can provide you with one

  • To enable your loved one to better recognise you and to aid communication, try to maintain eye contact and wear clothing or your hair in a way that will help your loved one to recognise you

  • You must remain at least two metres from any staff member at all times

  • We will provide seating that 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

  • Any gifts for residents must be washable as they will require sanitisation

  • The home’s guest toilet facilities will not be open for visits. 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.

Please note that all visiting is only available in homes that have been free of any infection for 14 days. These visits may also be withdrawn following advice from our local Directors of Public Health, as well as any additional advice or guidance from the local infection control team or central Government. Your Home Manager will keep you updated about visiting in your home and will provide you with a visitors' guide.

Please contact the home if you wish to organise a visit and they will provide you with the relevant procedure for your visit.

As always, the health and welfare of residents, colleagues and visitors remain our top priority. Thank you for your continued support and patience during these difficult times.

How will the Close Contact Lateral Flow Test visits be carried out?

For close contact visits, there are be strict protocols in place to maintain the health and welfare of all concerned, including the use of Lateral Flow Testing Devices for visitors and the wearing of Personal Protective Equipment at all times. Visits will be by appointment only to enable us to manage this process safely. Residents are permitted to have up to 5 designated consistent close contact visitors. These visitors are allowed to visit separately or in groups of two for inside close contact visits. Babies and toddlers (defined as able to sit on a lap or in a buggy and not run around) will also be permitted to accompany visitors and will not be counted as one of the visitors. To reduce the risk of infection. residents can have no more than 2 visitors at a time or over the course of one day.

 

Each visit will last up to 45 minutes, but visitors should plan for the entire visiting process to take approximately two hours from start to finish.

What does the testing involve?

You will be asked to take a test using a Lateral Flow Device. You will be tested before visiting to check if you currently have Covid-19. The test is very straightforward and you will be supported throughout the process by a member of staff from the care home. Your test will be registered for NHS Track and Trace purposes. Full instructions will be provided to you upon your scheduled visit.

Key steps you should be prepared for during the test include:

There are two options for testing locations prior to visiting your loved one. These are either in your car upon arrival at the care home, or at a designated space within the care home itself. On arrival, you will be asked to wash or sanitize your hands. You will be then be asked to complete your Lateral Flow test, after which there will be a 30 minute wait for the results. During this time, you will be required to complete our health screening procedure which includes a member of staff taking your temperature.

Your Results

We will tell you your result and NHS Test and Trace will also send your result via SMS and/or the e-mail​ that you provided on the online registration form.

  • Positive – you will not be able to visit. You must go home immediately and self-isolate. You will have to take a second test which is a confirmatory PCR test through the Government portal/centre. You will need to self-isolate until you get your result. If you test positive, NHS Test & Trace may contact you to ask you for your contacts.

  • Inconclusive – we will ask you to do another Lateral Flow test. If this also inconclusive, your visit will not go ahead.

  • Negative – your visit will be able to go ahead, as long as you comply with all other infection prevention and control measures (see below). This does not guarantee that you definitely do not have Covid-19, so we still need to make sure visits take place in a safe way, such as ensuring you wear your PPE at all times. If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to ask.

The Visit

You will be required to wash your hands using the nearest hand basin and will then be provided with PPE and asked to put it on as advised by a member of staff. This will include gloves, mask and apron. You will then be checked in for your visit.

During your visit – Do’s and Don’ts

Inside the care home, we ask that you continue to wear the fluid repellent face mask provided alongside all PPE that you were asked to wear throughout the entire duration of the visit. Please continue with our visiting policy throughout.

What is allowed during your visit

Provided you are wearing appropriate PPE and following all other infection control measures, then it will be possible for you to have limited physical contact with your loved one, such as a light touch or holding hands.

What is not allowed during your visit 

Taking off any PPE according to guidance from the member of staff to entering into any part of the home that is not designated for your visit.

Keeping safe

It’s important to recognise that a negative test will provide us with some assurance as to whether you are carrying the COVID-19 virus. However, it is not a guarantee. To keep your loved one and our care home safe, we ask that you please follow the below guidelines:

  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell, including if you have a fever, a cough or a change in your taste and smell.

  • If you have recently been diagnosed with Covid-19, you must not visit the home until you have completed your full 10-day isolation period. As per Government guidance, we are unable to test you using a Lateral Flow Device for 90 days following your positive test, so you must therefore provide the home with evidence of when you tested positive to enable visits to go ahead.

  • Follow national guidance outside of your visit, including limiting your contact with other people and wearing a mask in public if possible.

  • Observe social distancing with anyone outside of your household or bubble and wash your hands regularly.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation during these visits.

How are trips out of the home being carried out?

Preparing for an Essential Trip Out / Visits out of Care Homes to Spend Time Outdoors

  • All trips out must be by appointment only

  • Residents may only be accompanied by a member of the home’s staff or their named nominated visitor/s (i.e. those that can currently visit for close contact visits within the care home with Lateral Flow Device testing) 

  • You will need to complete a form prior to your trip. The form will contain health screening questions and you will need to agree to the safety requirement measures that will be implemented throughout the duration of the trip

  • You must not undertake a trip if you have any symptoms of Covid-19 or have been in the company of anybody who has experienced symptoms or tested positive within the last 28 days

  • The nominated visitor/s will need to take a Covid-19 Lateral Flow Device test on the day of the visit (preferably arranged at the care home) as an extra precaution. This will not be required where the visit is a local walk and when the visitor does not enter the care home or share any form of transport with the person living in the care home

  • If you are planning to transport your loved one in your personal car, then it must be sanitised before they get into the vehicle

Making an Essential Trip Out / Visits out of Care Homes to Spend Time Outdoors

  • Visitor/s and residents must wash their hands regularly

  • Social distancing must take place at all times

  • Trips must take place outdoors

  • There must be no visits to indoor spaces (public or private) with the exception of using toilet facilities (except in the case of essential visits)

  • The use of public transport should be avoided where possible

  • Nominated visitor/s and residents must wear relevant Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when in an inside enclosed space (eg in a car, accessing a toilet or visiting a hospital clinic etc). Appropriate PPE includes the use of a face mask when travelling in a car (essential for the nominated visitor) and the use of gloves and aprons if accessing toilet facilities. The home will provide PPE for these purposes

  • Nominated visitor/s and residents must uphold the strictest hygiene protocols, particularly when eating, drinking or using the bathroom

  • Residents should not have any physical contact with anybody other than their nominated visitor who has tested negative using a Lateral Flow Device

Important Points to note:

 

The current published guidance states clearly that to take part in outdoor activities, residents cannot meet in groups where close contact is likely (e.g. family gatherings) as care home residents are most at risk from COVID-19.

 

Residents who have tested positive, or who have COVID-19 symptoms, must self-isolate and would therefore not be able to leave the care home.

 

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

For any of our homes that are 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.

How are you maintaining the health and welfare of residents and staff?

At Quantum Care we are taking the Covid-19 outbreak extremely seriously and are following all the latest Government and Public Health England advice. As well as limiting access inside our homes we have 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 regular health 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 during the pandemic 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. Our brilliant staff teams remain strong and we are continuing to successfully recruit new colleagues during this time.

Is Covid-19 testing currently available for staff and residents?

All of our homes are regularly testing residents and colleagues for Covid-19. There are two types of tests available within our homes: the PCR tests (carried out in the home and then sent to a laboratory for analysis) and the LFT tests which give a result in 30 minutes. 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 or tests positive for 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 further 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

Are you admitting new residents to the home?

We are accepting new admissions into 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 either tested negative for Covid-19 at their point of discharge or have completed an extended period in isolation following a historic positive test as per Government guidance.

  • 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 is currently affected by Covid-19. We will re-evaluate the position once a home has been clear of any infection for at least 14 days;

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 have been impacted by Covid-19 and our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with all those who have been affected by this illness.

If Covid-19 is confirmed or suspected in one of our homes, our relatives will be 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.