Latest on visiting, preparing for Christmas, testing and vaccination

Temporary closure to visitors due to Covid-19

In the event of an outbreak of Covid-19 in one of our Care Homes or certain local lockdown procedures, the Home will quickly move to stop face to face visiting (except in exceptional circumstances such as Palliative Care visits) to protect vulnerable residents, colleagues and visitors, and to follow local policy guidance.

During any Home closure where face to face indoor visiting is not possible, alternative ways of communicating between residents and their families and friends are discussed and offered, with each Home doing all that they can to keep residents in touch with families. Visiting will not be re-started until it is clear that it is safe to do so. We will share updates on the any changes to visiting with residents and relatives as quickly as we can.

Preparing for Christmas

Our Homes are busily supporting residents and relatives to arrange visits over the Christmas period. We would ask that you book early so that we can assess demand and ensure we have a sufficient number of colleagues available to support visits throughout the festive period, including Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Please do however, be mindful of the guidance around Christmas bubbles, and any family arrangements when planning your visits.

We would not encourage residents to leave the Care Home, and if this is a consideration it should only be in agreement with the Home and subject to individual risk assessments. Any resident leaving the Care Home will need to undertake a fourteen-day isolation period on return. We ask that you discuss this in advance with the Home Manager.

With regards to items being delivered to the Home by family and or friends for residents such as Christmas gifts and or decorations: please note that if the items are not in their original unopened packaging and/or are wrapped in decorative paper not easily cleaned and/or number more than 1-2 gifts, they will need to be left in an agreed drop off area with the Home (non-communal area) where they will remain for a 72 hour period before being cleaned and handed to the resident. Therefore, we would ask please that family, friends, and well-wishers, please try to deliver any Christmas gifts by the 21st December 2020, 72 hours ahead of Christmas Eve.

Lateral Flow Testing

In recent weeks there have also been developments in the Lateral Flow Device testing (LFD), whereby designated members of family and loved ones, not more than 2 per resident, will be able to be rapidly tested before visiting.

The Government aims to roll out the ability to test in this way between now and the 18th December in England, with Scotland to follow closely behind. We are in regular contact with the National Testing Programme to understand the details of this programme and are in close discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care as to how and when we will be implementing this as there are a number of factors which need to be assessed and implemented prior to any onsite testing being made available.

At the present time, we are not yet ready to roll out this type of testing. We do not have confirmed dates for when the kits will arrive across our Homes, but we are assessing guidance on the implementation of the process and preparing as best we can. As soon as we have more detail we will be in touch but it is worth noting that what we do know so far is that any visitor will still need to wear PPE due to the reduced sensitivity of the swabs used when they are compared to the PCR test.

Rest assured that we continue to offer indoor, outdoor and window visits for residents and relatives in Homes where it is safe to do so, and our aim is to offer each resident at least one visit per week for at least 30 minutes. Our Homes will be offering as many options as they can unless they have been advised to close due to an outbreak or formal direction is received from a Public Heath Team or Local Authority that temporary closure must occur or only specific types of visits can be afforded.


We are delighted to hear the news that a vaccine is imminent, and that the Government has stated that care home residents and those involved in direct care will be the priority for this. It will come as a great relief to many of our residents and colleagues, and to the nation. We will be liaising very closely with the Department of Health and Social Care on this, and will be doing all we can to ensure that our residents and colleagues, are some of the first in the queue when it is confirmed the vaccine is available. We are working now on guidance to support the vaccination programme.

Before visiting

  • All visits must be pre-arranged at least 24 hours ahead with the Manager at the Home. This is to ensure there are enough colleagues to keep visitors and residents safe, and that all guidance can be followed
  • Visits will be restricted to one single, constant person, where possible
  • Visits may be cancelled at short notice if they cannot be safely carried out in accordance with government guidelines, the weather is inclement for outside visits or where the resident is unwell.
  • Caring Homes supports NHS Test and Trace and is keeping a record of visitors in the event contact tracing is required.
  • Visits will be restricted in time and frequency to ensure safety for residents, colleagues, and visitors.
  • Visits should happen in the open air wherever possible, but we recognise that for many residents and visitors this will not be appropriate during the winter months. Some of our Homes may use temporary outdoor structures or have a dedicated room just for visiting.
  • Visits will be restricted in time and frequency to ensure safety for residents, colleagues, and visitors.

During a visit

  • Visitors must follow any guidance or procedures put in place by the Home, to ensure everyone complies with infection prevention control.
  • Visitors are required to complete our health screening questionnaire which includes questions on whether they have any Covid-19 symptoms (a high temperature; a new continuous cough; a loss or change to your sense of smell and taste).
    • If you currently have or have had Covid-19 symptoms in the last 10 days, please you and anyone who you have had contact with, will not be allowed to enter.
    • You should not attend if you are unwell with symptoms other than Covid-19 to avoid passing on any other illnesses to the residents.
    • If you have been advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, you will not be allowed to enter so please do not attend.
  • All visits are supervised, and discreetly observed to ensure compliance with infection prevention and control measures.
  • Visitors must wash their hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser gel when entering and leaving.
  • Visitors should avoid coming into contact with other residents or colleagues.
  • Visitors may be offered a visit that is outside, or inside with screens, to limit the spread of infection, depending on the facilities at the Home and local infection rates.
  • Visitors will be asked to wear face masks, gloves and or aprons
  • Social distancing (between visitors and residents, colleagues, and visitors from other households) must be maintained at all times – during the visit, and around the Home building and grounds.
  • Seats will be provided 2 metres apart in a designated area and these must not be moved.
  • Gifts should be left with colleagues and given to resident’s once they have been sanitised.
  • No opened food items should be brought back to the Home. Any foodstuffs brought back to the Home must be shop bought only and in the original packaging, unopened. The packaging will then be appropriately cleaned before being given to the resident.
  • Visitors will not be able to use facilities such as coffee shops and toilets (unless for emergencies), to limit the spread of infection.

Protecting our residents and colleagues

In England we are testing colleagues every week and our residents every 28 days along with any new colleagues before starting work with us. In Scotland testing for residents is happening on an ad-hoc basis and more routinely where there is an outbreak, and testing takes places every fortnight for colleagues. In Jersey colleagues are tested monthly, however the testing frequencies are about to change, and we are keeping a close eye on this.

Our colleagues are all trained in infection prevention and control and are extremely vigilant to the symptoms of Covid-19. We have robust protocols in place should a resident and or colleague show any symptoms including isolation wherever necessary in line with government advice.

Should your loved one display symptoms or test positive to Coronavirus, we would call and discuss the situation with you personally.

Personal Protective Equipment

Please be assured that, we maintain a robust supply of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) in our Homes and colleagues, residents and visitors are using this in accordance with the Public Health and Government guidance and we remain confident in our supply chain, ensuring every Home has what they need.

Keeping up to date with the latest news

With developments happening continually we are keen to keep in touch with you as best we can.

If you have any questions or queries, please do get in touch with the Home Manager.

PJ Signature Paul Jeffery CEO, Caring HomesTFR Signature Tracey Fletcher-Ray Managing Director, Caring Homes

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