Updated : 19/07/2021
We’d like to say a big thank you for the understanding of families and friends of residents over the changing situation regarding visits – your patience and goodwill has been much appreciated.
The government has planned a roadmap out of lockdown with removal of Covid restrictions from 19th July 2021. We have now received step 4 guidance on how this affects visits to care homes and details of our approach are outlined below.
New regulations removed Covid restrictions for the public, making it optional to wear face coverings, social distance and handwash. However in care settings Covid restrictions will remain to protect residents, famlies and staff. Therefore we will be maintaining the need for Covid restrictions whilst the delta wave is impacting Surrey.
Please contact the home before visiting to enquire about current visiting arrangements.
Maintaining family and social connections is essential to the health and wellbeing of care home residents. We are committed to ensuring residents in our home are able to enjoy visits from their family and friends wherever possible while complying with government restrictions.
The Government has emphasised the importance of balancing the need for family visits with protecting the safety and wellbeing of those living and working in the home. With this in mind, we will be taking a two-tiered approach to visits within our home.
If there is an ‘Outbreak’ status in the home – ie a resident or a member of staff has tested positive or is experiencing symptoms which could indicate coronavirus – we will pause visiting to the home for 14 days. We will also continue to provide visits in the home by 'essential care givers' and where a resident is on end of life care. Where visiting is not possible, we will do our utmost to keep residents in touch with families. This includes using mobiles/ tablet/ computer for Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp video and phone calls.
If there is 'No Outbreak’ status in the home, we will provide garden visits and internal visits in the ventilated conservatory maintaining a covid secure environment. We have invested in infrared heaters to heat the conservatory while remaining ventilated. Infection control teams have confirmed that this method of visiting is covid secure.
From 19th June 2021 each resident is allowed unlimited ‘named visitors’ and one 'essential care giver'. Residents can receive indoor visits in the ventilated conservatory by two 'named visitors' at one time. Residents can receive further visitors outdoors in the sheltered garden area. Visitors will need to take a rapid lateral flow test and test negative before every visit. The tests will be performed either at the care home, or self-testing at home with text/ email result from NHS test and trace. The tests take 20-30 minutes. Visitors should minimise physical contact with residents. Visitors must observe social distancing and PPE use and follow all necessary infection control measures.
It is not a condition of visiting that the visitor or the resident should have been vaccinated.
Named visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum (excluding essential care givers). Physical contact like handholding is acceptable if hand washing protocols are followed. Close personal contact such as hugging presents higher risks but will be safer if it is between people who are double vaccinated, without face-to-face contact, and there is brief contact only.
In all cases, local Health Protection Teams may feel that the level of risk in the local community is particularly high and may ask us to postpone visits or adapt our approach. In these cases, we will always follow their guidance.
To enable staff to facilitate visits effectively, we will continue to follow the visitor code and infection control measures that have been in place for the last few months.
Residents can make low risk trips outside the home when accompanied by a named visitor, essential care giver or carer.
Where visits out are accompanied by a named visitor, the visitor will need to take a rapid lateral flow test and test negative before every visit. The tests take 20-30 minutes.
Activities outside of the care home that will not require self-isolation include:
a regularly planned overnight stay to a nominated visitor's home
outdoor visits to parks, beaches or gardens
medical appointments (other than overnight stays in hospitals)
visiting day centres
attending educational settings
High risk trips outdoors, which includes visiting indoor spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained, using public transport or hospital admissions would require self-isolation for 14 days on return to the home.
Keeping safe at home
As the national situation regarding the pandemic develops, our number one priority remains the safety and wellbeing of everyone living and working in our home. Since the early stages of the pandemic, staff have been working according to the changing UK guidance. This includes a range of measures aimed at both reducing the likelihood of new Covid-19 infections, and reducing the spread of infections where they occur. These include;
Staff following guidance around social distancing, respiratory and hand hygiene measures, the correct wearing of PPE and ventilation.
Maintained a high level of stock for PPE, cleaning and decontamination items.
Using Covid-19 testing available to ensuring staff have three tests a week and residents are tested once a month.
We have introduced protocols to support family visits that are as safe and enjoyable as possible for all involved whilst complying with Government guidance, and are continuing to invest in new technologies, computer tablets to maintain family connections.
New residents or residents that have been admitted to hospital and returning home must have a test within 48 hours of admission and show proof of a negative result before returning to the home. Returning residents are cared for in their rooms for 14 days to reduce the risk of new cases coming into the home.
Staff have undergone infection prevention control training and specific training in relation to Covid-19. Staff have received infection control training updates from the community nurses.
We have invested in air purifiers on all floors and in communal TV room and dining room. They uses several filters and UV-C light to reduce bacteria and virus particles in the air in one pass through the purifier. Also sink particles to the floor where they can be cleaned more easily.
Should there be a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19 in our home, the home will move into ‘Outbreak’ status and follow an Outbreak Plan which includes elements like closing communal areas within the home, postponing visits and tighter cohorting of staff and residents into smaller social bubbles.
We have measures in place to limit the number of non-essential people coming into our homes, including postponing all non-essential visits.
There is enhanced cleaning regimes including decontaminating equipment and cleaning high touch areas.
Other visitors to our home
The exact rules about other visitors to our homes will depend on the local guidance. Please be assured that essential visits from, health professionals like doctors, district nurses podiatrist or people repairing critically important equipment are going ahead but they will only do so under stringent IPC measures.
Please contact the home.
Testing is one of the most important tools we have to protect those living and working in our homes in the coming months. Staff are currently tested three times a week and residents once a month.
Named visitors entering the home will have rapid tests. If the visitor tests positive, they must immediately leave the premises. They must complete a PCR test, which should be provided for them by the care home.
Visitors who have recently tested positive for COVID-19 should not routinely be retested within 90 days unless they develop new symptoms. Some visitors will not need to be tested because they will still fall into this 90-day window. These visitors should use the result of their positive PCR test to show that they are exempt.
It is good news that all residents and staff have both vaccinations. There may be booster vaccinations to protect against mutant virus strains, offered to staff and residents in the autumn.
For more comprehensive information on coronavirus, please visit the Public Heath England and government websites. Please don’t hesitate to contact the manager for more information.