Where residents have developed symptoms and tested positive for the virus, we have cared for them following government and Public Health England guidelines. We have also informed their close family first and then written personally to relatives of all the residents in the home. We have taken the threat posed by COVID-19 to our residents’ health and wellbeing very seriously, seeking to minimise the risk of infection as much as possible. Our staff are wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) wherever necessary (and we have ample supplies within the home) and we are testing residents and staff who display symptoms.
While some restrictions have been eased, as of 11 May, the government has not yet advised that care homes can safely accept visitors. As ever, our aim is to protect our vulnerable residents by minimising, as much as we can, the risk of infection from COVID-19. We have therefore taken the difficult decision not to open the home until it is safe to do so. Over the last few weeks our residents have successfully remained in touch with their relatives via phone and video calling and there is no reason why this cannot continue for the time being. We are also giving regular wellbeing updates by phone to the relatives of residents who are unable to make or receive calls.
We will be in touch with you if we believe that your relative is nearing the end of his or her life. We will then arrange for you to visit your relative, but this will be by arrangement only as you will not be able to visit the home without an appointment.
You can communicate with them via your phone or other electronic device using Skype, Google Hangout, WhatsApp or Facetime (if you have it). If your relative does not have their own mobile phone, we have tablet devices in the home for their use (following strict hygiene protocols). Because the number of these tablet devices is limited can you please call the home to arrange a convenient day and time to speak to your relative. We are also giving regular wellbeing updates by phone to the relatives of residents who are unable to make or receive calls.
As a matter of course, we maintain good stocks of cleaning and care home products, as well as food supplies, and are in daily touch with our key suppliers. These include Caterplus (which provides in-house catering services) and Gompels (which sells cleaning and care home items) and all have robust contingency plans in place. There are also strategies to source alternative products, if required.
At all times we will endeavour to staff the homes to the best of our ability and appropriately, notwithstanding the COVID-19 coronavirus. If any member of staff becomes ill they will self-isolate and recover at home. They will be tested for the virus before returning to work. If necessary, we will source additional temporary staff (risk assessing them to ensure that they are virus-free) and follow our strict cleaning protocols and no non-medical visitor policy. We will also keep in close contact with our local health protection team (part of Public Health England) and follow their advice/government guidelines. Our aim, as always, is to minimise any impact on residents.
If we suspect that a resident has the virus (whether or not they display symptoms) we will immediately isolate and test them for the virus. If they test positive we will nurse them in isolation for at least 10 days pending a re-test. At all times we will remain in touch with medical professionals and the Public Health England. Our priorities are to care for the resident concerned and protect other residents from contracting the illness.
We are following government guidelines concerning good hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Because we have been proactive in sourcing PPE for our staff, we have sufficient supplies within the home and access to additional supplies if required. We are confident that all our protective measures will help to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing under the current circumstances.
We are purchasing testing kits and are actively testing both our residents and staff to ensure that we minimise any future risk. Staff who have been self-isolating are tested prior to returning to work, as is anyone showing symptoms. When testing residents we will be in touch with relatives, where appropriate, to discuss this.
A varied programme of activities is essential for our residents’ health and wellbeing. However, these are extraordinary times and residents must be protected as much as possible from infection by COVID-19. We have suspended visits by outside entertainers and fitness instructors until further notice. Any resumption at a later date will be in accordance with government and PHE advice. Although trips out have also been suspended, we are continuing to offer activities, such as arts and crafts, cake decorating, bingo and puzzles, that are normally organised in-house. We have also worked hard to make festivities such as Easter, St George’s Day and VE Day particularly special for our residents, despite being in lockdown.
We have strict cleaning protocols in place at all times, and these are subject to regulatory and statutory requirements. However, we have issued extra guidance for staff and have already increased the frequency of the cleaning of core communal areas including doors, door handles, handrails, bathrooms, dining tables and chairs and kitchen facilities.
We will continue to deal with all waste in the usual manner. Should any resident be suspected of having the virus, we will remove waste in accordance with advice from PHE. We seek at all times to minimise the risk of transmission to other residents and staff.
We will continue to work closely with our local doctors and NHS professionals, and be guided by their expertise. We will ensure that all residents have contact with a GP as and when required.
The NHS has suspended all non-urgent operations until further notice and some routine hospital appointments have been rescheduled. We are in regular contact with health professionals and continue to monitor the situation carefully.
Your relative is continuing to receive a high level of care 24/7 from our dedicated team of carers and nurses. We will continue keep you fully updated on their health and wellbeing and are supporting them in speaking with you on their mobile phone, if they have one, or one of the home’s tablets. Where that is not possible, we are giving regular wellbeing updates by phone to those residents’ relatives.
After a period of suspension, we are now taking in new admissions, but we must follow a specific process that minimises the risk of infection to all newcomers, as well as existing residents and staff. This involves testing for COVID-19 before arrival – only accepting someone if they test negative – and caring for them in isolation until they are re-tested after 10 days to ensure, once again, that they do not have the virus. As ever, we are working in accordance within government and Public Health England guidelines.
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