13 October 2020
Dear Sir/ Madam
Re: Being prepared and protecting each other.
As care homes feature more in the media again and levels of concern have raised across the country in relation to the speed and rate of transmission of Covid-19 we felt it important to provide you with an update on our current position in relation to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
From the onset of the Pandemic, we recognised that our residents and colleagues have a right to live and work in a safe, caring environment. We therefore have ensured throughout that our policies and procedures promote the safety and wellbeing of our residents and colleagues.
We reiterated this recognition in both our Winter Plan, which we have shared with our Regulators, and in our response to the government guidance documents ‘Adult Social care: our Covid-19 winter plan 2020 to 2021’ and ‘The Ethical Framework for Adult Social Care’. We welcomed these documents which acknowledge the measures that need to be taken to minimise spread of infection between care homes and the provision of extra personal protective equipment (PPE) and support for our dedicated colleagues. Importantly the Governments Covid-19 winter plan included the requirement that patients being discharged to care homes must be tested prior to discharge from hospital and the results must be made available. Although Government guidance now advocates that a resident admitted from Hospital must be tested prior to discharge we have, since March, gone one step further than this and continued to demand that the result of the swab must be known prior to discharge and show a negative result before a new admission to our Care Homes is even considered.
The success of the Governments and our own Winter Plans will fundamentally depend upon ready availability of Covid testing to care home residents and colleagues and we are lobbying hard to ensure that tests can be turned around rapidly, and the results conveyed to care homes, as a priority.
Throughout these past months we have based Caring Homes’ approach and guidance on national guidelines but where we believe national guidelines have not gone far enough to ensure our residents or colleagues’ safety, we have and will continue to encompass our own protocols to the guidance in order to minimise the risk of Covid-19 on our Care Homes.
Looking daily at our statistics in relation to Covid-19, it would appear that our guidance is having the desired effect of minimising the impact of Covid-19 but we are acutely aware that the increase in infections in the general population can increase the risk of Covid-19 on our Care Homes and so we will maintain our stance and remain cautious and robust in our approach.
In relation to visiting, the safety of our existing residents and colleagues is paramount in our decision making. Although we see first-hand the impact this has, we will only be able to lift key restrictions once we are confident that the risk of Covid-19 is not significantly increased by the lifting of any such restrictions and are very much guided by Government and Public Health bodies on this particularly in regions under local lockdown restrictions.
However, despite our robust protocols we are keen to maintain some degree of normality and plan to continue to offer visits if and where permitted by local and national bodies and guidance, unless we deem the risk of visits too high. This is not only to support and protect residents and colleagues but you, our visitors too.
We continue to promote positive links with the local community and external agencies and will continue to work alongside, support and assist Local Authorities and the NHS as much as we can with regards to the admission of residents to our Homes while remaining steadfast on our policies for admission which mean that we only accept admissions to our Homes if the potential admission is able to evidence a negative swab for Covid-19 that has been taken within 48 hours of possible admission. In addition, each new admission to any of our Homes undergoes a fourteen-day isolation period. We believe that these measures have aided us in our quest to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on our residents and colleagues. Given the increased level of Covid-19 in the general community, we believe that now is not the time to change our existing protocols.
The protocols we have implemented we believe are the least restrictive possible whilst at the same time robust enough to minimise risk. All are reviewed on a regular basis following regular analysis of the progress of the virus, analysis of data from our Homes, analysis of regional and national data and consideration of national guidance.
We plan to maintain a regular swabbing regime of colleagues and residents and analyse the data from these swabs closely in order to monitor the potential impact of Covid-19 on our Homes. Sufficient PPE has also been secured for the next few months, which includes masks, gloves, and aprons. We are pleased to say, that our protocols do appear to be minimising the impact of Covid-19 on our residents.
In addition to increased rates of transmission in the community of Covid-19, we now must consider the additional impact of the winter months. With this in mind, we have developed guidance on Influenza for our colleagues and will be promoting a high uptake of the Influenza vaccination for both residents and our colleagues. We are mindful of the possible effects and impact of a combination of Influenza and Covid-19 would have on our residents and, view having the Influenza vaccination as an extremely important step in protecting everyone. We hope you will support your loved ones in getting vaccinated against Influenza and that you will also seek vaccination yourself as we try to minimise the impact of Influenza on our resident population.
Our colleagues continue to work with exceptional commitment and as fellow professionals are deserving of our gratitude and praise. We are proud of our Managers and Regional Managers who have led from the front and continue to ensure that the guidelines we issue via our Steering Group are followed. The Steering Group continues to meet twice weekly and is followed by a call with all Home Managers and Regional Managers. We understand the need to support all our colleagues as the Covid-19 Pandemic continues and value the collaboration and strength that all colleagues continue to demonstrate.
We appreciate that this remains a difficult situation and encourage you to make use of all the technology we have available to maximise contact through video calls, phone calls and or social media. We are keen to support, so if you do have any questions or concerns please call the home direct.
We will continue to update you on developments in relation to the Pandemic and wish to take this opportunity of thanking you for your continued support.
With our very best wishes to you and your loved ones,