As you know, we are all in the most challenging of times due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
There is much to update you with since my last letter. I am delighted to say that since the 8th of March no resident has tested positive. On the vaccine front so far 304 residents have had their second vaccine. We expect all resident second vaccines to be completed by the end of April.
With regard to our staff just under 90% have had their first vaccination which is well above the national average and many are now starting to have their second. We are engaging with those who have not to encourage them to have the vaccine. Whilst it is their choice,we have also made the decision to require any new appointment to the care home teams to have the vaccine.
In accordance with PHE guidance all our staff are tested three times a week – 1 PCR and 2 LFDs and all residents are PCR tested at least every 4 wks.
All homes are open to visiting and all visitors are LFD tested prior to admission and must wear full PPE.
In summary we have robust infection control measures in place, we have implemented rigorous testing and have seen a successful uptake of vaccinations.Residents and staff are both safe and well protected.
As I look forward, we are keen to enable a gradual return to more of the ‘old normal’. We were therefore pleased to read of the Government’s change in the visiting guidance, with effect from the 12th of April.
The primary changes are:
• Each care home resident can nominate up to 2 named visitors who can visit together or separately.
• A young person under the age of 18 can be one of the 2 nominated visitors. A child under the age of 2 does not need to be counted as part of this limit.
• These named visitors should take an LFD test before every visit, wear PPE and follow all Infection Control measures. These requirements differ for children depending on age. Children aged 11 and over should wear the same PPE as adult visitors. Children under the age of 3 should not wear masks. Children under 11 should not undertake regular asymptomatic testing.
• There should be no physical contact between babies or young children and the residents they are visiting.
You may have read that this week the Government announced plans to make LFD testing available to everyone twice a week. If you have already taken an LFD test within [24 hrs] of your visit, then provided you can evidence the negative test, you will not need to take another one when visiting.
The updated guidance is very clear that all visitors have an important role to play in keeping both their loved one’s safe and also the other residents, whose home it is also. Personally, I believe that the way we all work together to deliver safe visiting will give both the Government and PHE the confidence to further relax the
visiting guidance. You may have read in the press recently that pressure is being applied on the Government to allow care home residents to go on trips again. Something we would embrace, and we are planning ahead to have our minibuses operational again from the beginning of June, hoping that will be possible.
I can also advise that following the successful restarting of visiting, we will be increasing the visiting time from 30mins to 45 mins for both room visits and screen visits. It is interesting to see that the screen visits remain equally popular as room visits, many relatives remain wary of coming into the care homes. Which is why we must be respectful of all our residents’ wishes and do our best to reassure all relatives. The adage says ‘you can’t please all the people all of the time’ – we are trying.
As I look ahead into May and we see the weather improve, we are looking to introduce outdoor visiting spaces as another visiting alternative. Homes are working with our Gardening and Operations teams to determine how this can be best delivered in a safe way that does not compromise the gardens for our residents.
All homes are actively engaged with this year’s Colten Produce Show, plenty of categories so something for all residents to get involved with and they are. This is now the third year of the competition and I can say that it is not the taking part it is the winning that counts!
With the longer days and the warmer weather, I know the fantastic gardens will again be coming into their own.