Communication for Health and Social Care Professionals
An update for all our valued Health and Social Care Professionals from our Managing Director Tracey Fletcher-Ray
I am writing to you personally today, as Managing Director of Caring Homes to thank you for the support shown to our care homes over the past few weeks. I would also like to offer you an update on our business at this time, information about life in our homes during the lockdown and an overview of our plans for the immediate future.
The NHS is currently in Phase 2 of its response to coronavirus and across the care sector we are aligned with that in terms of testing, safely welcoming new residents from hospitals or their own homes and continuing with our robust infection control procedures. Along with the NHS and the Government we are prepared for any surge, or second peak, in the number of coronavirus cases within our care homes.
We are open
Back in March we set up a Coronavirus Steering Group, which I, our CEO Paul Jeffery and other members of the senior leadership team are part of. The group meets daily to ensure we are reacting to events in our homes and responding to the latest guidance from local authorities and Government.
Every Steering Group call is followed by a conference call with Managers to keep them fully up to date. We are working hard to ensure we offer them peace of mind as well as support during this unprecedented time.
Testing our residents and colleagues
We have completed the testing of all staff and residents across our 69 homes. We are now planning to use a two-week rolling programme of re-testing for residents as well as regular testing for staff with 14-day periods of self-isolation adhered to wherever necessary.
We have been keeping accurate records to show the numbers of positive tests and of those self-isolating or with symptoms at our homes. We realise a swab test is only a snapshot in time as we focus on infection control procedures including advice regarding social distancing and the correct use of PPE. We have always maintained strict admissions protocols, and at Caring Homes these remain in place.
We do not admit anyone with a positive test result for Covid-19 or with Covid symptoms and we insist that any potential admission has been swabbed and gained a negative result for Covid 19 as close to potential admission date as possible. All new residents have a self isolation period of 14 days following admission as is recommended in Government Guidance.
Using the correct PPE
Our procurement team have worked hard throughout the outbreak to ensure our homes all have sufficient stocks of PPE, with additional supplies stored at our regional Hubs and distributed to individual homes as needed. We have purchased equipment privately, as well as ensuring supplies from Government sources, and we register all our requirements daily using the NHS Capacity Tracker.
Getting ready for visitors
Caring Homes went swiftly into lockdown to ensure the safety of our residents and, for the time being, we remain closed to visitors and await further announcements from the Government.
We know this is of extreme importance and on a home by home, resident by resident basis, we have prepared a phased easement plan in readiness for visiting restrictions to be lifted when safe to do so.
Supporting our teams
The health and wellbeing of our team members is always a top priority and we know many will have felt under immense pressure at this time. We have introduced a wellbeing programme including weekly internal communication in support of physical and mental health, alongside a free counselling service available to anyone who feels they may need it, and all colleagues are completing their mandatory training. Our dedicated wellbeing team have organised a Caring Homes Wellbeing Day this month for residents and colleagues.
Supporting our residents
We have designed our own unique wellbeing response to the virus with several projects and initiatives underway to support our residents’ wellbeing during this period of restricted visiting. We have increased our use of technology across the homes to ensure contact can still be made with families and friends via telephone, Skype and, in some of homes, using the latest technology from Myo. We have supplied additional mobile phones to homes to aid this process and Amazon Firesticks to broaden the selection of programmes available.
Thanking our communities
Over the past two months there has been a genuine desire to reach out and help care for our residents and teams. Our homes have been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of family members, local individuals, community groups, and local businesses. We have posted more than 200 of these gifting stories to our homes’ Facebook pages and produced ‘Thanking Our Community’ banners and posters for homes to display their gratitude.
I fully appreciate that the last few weeks have set us unprecedented challenges and have undoubtedly been an extremely worrying time for us all in the care sector. We will continue to align ourselves with the NHS Covid-19 Recovery Strategy [Phase 2] as well as building upon our own significant progress at Caring Homes, and when the time is right, we will begin to chart a new course along with Care England, and our sector colleagues, in supporting social care initiatives and healthcare campaigns such as the NHS Confederation’s project ‘Reset’ which is already looking at what the health and social care system should look like post Covid-19.
For now though, we will continue to focus on the more immediate challenges, and working together, I know we can ensure the health and wellbeing of our residents and families. For more information about anything contained in this letter please visit our webpage at www.caringhomes.org or our Facebook page www.facebook.com/caringhomesgroup/
Please do not hesitate to contact your local home for more information or if you have any questions. Once again I thank you all for your help and support and for contributing to the undoubted sense of community spirit felt across the care sector at this time.
Tracey Fletcher-Ray, Managing Director, Caring Homes