Care home visiting 2021
Dear family member,
Re: Visits Stichell House and Gretton Court
To enable safe, close contact visits between residents of Gretton Court and Stichell House and a designated family member in line with Government Guidance.
As I am sure you are aware as part of a cautious easing of lockdown, every care home resident will be allowed one regular, named individual to visit them indoors from 8 March 2021, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). When the new variant of Covid-19 was discovered, the majority of visits became restricted nationally, although some continued in some form. Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is just the first step to getting back to where we want to be. We need to make sure we keep the infection rate down, to allow greater visiting in a step-by-step way in the future.”
The announcement comes as every care home resident in the UK has now been offered their first vaccination. We are pleased with the take up of vaccinations in both our homes and thank you for your support.
Visits a positive step forward
We see this as positive step to enable really, important, valuable, indeed priceless contact with your loved ones and will do all we can to make this happen as safely as possible.
We recognise that visits will be different, and anticipate that testing, PPE, social distancing, and robust infection control measures will continue for the foreseeable future.
Our aim is to enable safe, close contact visits between residents of Gretton Court and Stichell House and a designated family member and in the spirit of the guidance to “continue to work together with families and local professionals to ensure visits are possible while continuing to limit the risk of transmission of Covid-19”. We are hopeful and supportive that at last we can welcome visitors and bring families and carers back together again and thankful of the cautious approach to easing of lockdown. We will continue to be vigilant and do everything we can to keep people as safe as we can from Covd-19.
From our point of view there is a lot of planning and preparation to get these visits up and running, a lot of questions to be asked and all measures will be under continual review. Hopefully as the general situation continues to improve, vaccinations increase, and cases reduce.
I am pleased to say that in both homes there is currently no outbreak control plan in place, and we continue to do all we can to maintain this situation, monitoring the local situation carefully, continued testing of staff using both PCR testing and lateral flow testing, maintaining the use of PPE and social distancing measures.
Bringing back indoor visits
We are planning for a staged approach to enabling safe visits in our homes and in addition would like to seek volunteers from families who can support our efforts to safely facilitate visits. (see below- Can you help and join our team and become a “visit volunteer”?
1) Presently provision for window visits and Pod visits are in place in both homes. These continue to be by appointment and in allocated times. We are still taking all required precautions to keep people safe and reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19. Thank you for your ongoing co-operation and support
2) Opening up indoor visits from March the 8th
We plan to open indoor visits safely by initially managing the number of visits per day to a maximum of 4 per day, visits to be held in a safe space within the homes where possible, taking into account residents' mobility and other factors. In Stichell house this will be the Garden Room in Gretton Court it will be the Leeway. Where residents are not able to leave their rooms, we will seek to put measures in place to enable safe visits. Visits will be only for the designated person and we would ask that families/carers to let us know who the named designated person is before Monday March the 8th?by either a phone call to the home or?by email.
For Stichell House email to:firstname.lastname@example.org
For Gretton Court email to: email@example.com
Visits will need to be planned for and booked with our team in advance. We plan to have visits between 10:00am and 6:00pm, 7 days per week and have allocated 2 hours for each visit, therefore 4 visits per day. The time allocation is to allow for lateral flow testing, taking the test, completing the required administration and waiting for the results, correct donning and doffing of PPE, hygiene measures, time with your loved one (up to 45 minutes) and for safely ending the visit and preparing the area for the next visit.
Designated visitors will have a negative lateral flow test before they are able to enter the main body of the home. These tests will take place in either the visiting Pod areas in both homes or the “Beach Hut” at Gretton Court.
Lateral flow test’s take around 30 minutes to get results and will be carried out by a team member, If a test returns as positive then the visit will not continue, and the visitor will be supported to arrange a PCR test.
It will be requirement for all visitors to wear appropriate PPE, gloves, mask and Apron(?), before they enter the home, training and supporting information will be provided to ensure that “donning and doffing” of PPE and hygiene procedures are followed both on entry and exit to the home. We will provide further information about good infection control practices and some additional measures to follow, e.g., include not wearing jewellery, tying long hair back, short sleeves, bare below the elbow.
Initially visits will take place in the Garden room at Stichell House and the Leeway at Gretton Court. Where residents are unable to leave their room due to their mobility, we will enable visits to their room, with further precautionary steps to be taken. Access to the visit will be supervised, maintaining social distance, this will also apply upon leaving. Visits will be for up to 45 minutes per visit.
There will be an individual risk assessment for the provision of visits for each individual resident, we will seek to agree these with the designated person.
Should guidelines not be followed the we reserve the right to end visits immediately and review visit arrangements on a?case by case?basis.? It is so?important?that we all do what we can to continue to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 at all times.?
3) Increasing Indoor visits
We will continue to keep arrangement under constant review and would hope to move towards a system of more visits, including to resident's rooms and other areas as time goes by.
Can you help and join our team and become a “Visit volunteer”?
As part of our plans for enabling visits we would like to offer the opportunity for family member to join our team as a “Visit volunteer” with the aim to support the provision of visits. This would be an important role, booking appointments, facilitating Lateral Flow Testing, completing the required administration to meet testing requirements, demonstrating the correct use of PPE, escorting visitors, and cleaning down visiting areas. Importantly you will be able to offer comfort, support and understanding to visitors. The role will require good people skills, administrative and communication skills. Training will be provided on the lateral flow testing, PPE and infection control measures. There will be full support from a designated staff member, appropriate clothing provided, expenses will be paid including an up-to-date DBS. We would require that Visits volunteers are available for a minimum of 4 hours per day, i.e., between 10:00 am and 2:00pm or 2:00pm and 6:00pm to support our plans for visits. We would like to get any arrangements in place before the start of full indoor visits. For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Some general guidance around indoor visits
Visitors will be allowed to hold hands indoors with their relative or contact in a care home. The individual will also be able to make repeat visits under carefully designed conditions to keep residents, staff and visitors safe.
Rapid lateral flow tests will be required before entry, personal protective equipment (PPE) is to be worn on site during the visit, and other forms of close contact will still need to be avoided. Home testing of single, named visitors will not be permitted during the start of the scheme although this will be reviewed at a later stage.
There will be discretion for care homes to allow more than one named visitor in exceptional circumstances. Vaccination will not be mandatory for the scheme and will not be a condition of visiting.
Close-contact care will be restricted to visitors who provide assistance that is essential to the immediate health and wellbeing of a resident, such as helping them to dress, eat or wash.
Existing guidance already allows these visits under exceptional circumstances. These carers will be supported by the DHSC by providing them with the same regular PCR testing and PPE arrangements as care home workers receive.
Outdoor, pod and screen visits can also continue in line with the DHSC’s published guidance, as they provide more chances for residents to see more people than just the one nominated visitor. Further government guidance will be published before the launch of the single, named visitor scheme on 8 March.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding.