As you know, we are all in the most challenging of times due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Since my last letter 4 weeks ago the country remains on track with the roadmap for the easing of lockdown. There has been much media pressure re care home visiting and allowing residents to leave their care homes without the need to isolate. The public’s concerns seem to have been listened to by Government and the guidance is finally starting to relax, something we fully embrace.
I am delighted to say that since the 8th March no resident has tested positive and that 95% of our residents have had both vaccines. We also have no members of staff test positive, over 90% have had their first vaccine and 70% their second.
The beneficial impact of the vaccine for both residents and staff is very evident. Combine this impact with our regular testing regime and the robust infection control measures in place, I am pleased to say that residents and staff are both safe and well protected.
We have revised our recruitment policy to require any new appointment to the care homes’ teams to be vaccinated. Furthermore, the Government is currently undertaking a consultation on all staff in social care to be vaccinated. We have registered our views. You may want to have your say by completing the consultation document in the link below which can also be shared with family and friends. It takes about 15 minutes to complete.
CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE
Given the increasing number of visitors and the ongoing need for LFT testing it would really help if visitors are able to do their own LFT prior to visiting and then evidence the result of the test on their phone. You can CLICK HERE and order your test kits.
With regard to visiting and trips out I am pleased to detail below two significant changes with regard to garden visits and taking residents outside of their care home. We are able to respond quickly to changes in Government guidance, such that we can promptly implement it. As I look ahead to June we will be reinstating our minibus trips, guidance permitting. We are currently putting the relevant planning in place.
We are very much on the path of returning to as much normality as possible.
Garden visits – with effect from the 10th May:
• Any two visitors can book a garden visit as an alternative to either the screen or room-based visit.
• The two visitors will be taken to the arranged seating area in the garden.
• In accordance with the guidance they must wear a mask throughout the visit. However, an LFT will not be required.
• Again in accordance with the guidance it is essential that the visitors remain socially distanced from the resident at all times. Holding hands is unfortunately not an option.
• If on the day of the visit the resident decides they don’t want to be in the garden or the weather isn’t
suitable then the visit will default to a screen visit.
• Please book these visits with the homes, they will be able to answer any specific questions you have.
• Where it is a resident’s birthday/anniversary then up to 4 people can join the garden visit to celebrate.
• Tea/coffee and cake will be available on request for all garden visits.
• For our dementia communities this policy has a slight variation in that an LFT will be required prior to visiting in the garden. The rationale for this different approach is that those residents living with dementia may not always be as able to comprehend the need for social distancing and we want to keep everyone as safe as we can within the current guidelines.
Out-of-home visits – with effect from the 10th May - This is Government Guidance.
• The Government have just announced that care home residents will be allowed out-of-home visits. We’ve developed our policy within the current guidance please bear with us if this changes.
• This policy will be available for either of the same two nominated people currently allowed to visit the resident inside the care home.
• Whilst it will be in addition to the current visiting options, visits out will need to be booked in advance and the home will need to record the planned trip to show it complies with the guidance. This we will do by asking a few simple questions about the planned trip out.
• The resident can travel in the nominated person’s car. Both should wear a face mask and if possible
the resident should sit in the rear.
• On arrival the nominated person will need to take an LFT, so should arrive 40 mins early, unless they have already taken a test within the last 12 hours and can evidence a negative test.
• Residents must be accompanied by the nominated person at all times, follow the government guidelines of washing hands regularly, wearing a face mask and keep socially distanced. They must remain outside at all times, unless to use toilet facilities.
• Trips to an open air café, drive out in the country are just two examples of what is permitted within the guidance.
Next the week, the 12th May, is Nurses day which all our homes will be celebrating.