Covid-19 Updates

Download Infection Control Assurance

Visiting

We are looking forward to opening every one of our Homes to internal visits very soon and have policies in place ready for this that acknowledge the latest Government guidance. The Government Visiting Guidance for England although expected this last Monday has yet to be published and therefore may delay the widely anticipated visiting indoors. Once published we would ask you to bear with us whilst we review and ensure any adjustments required are implemented and communicated to our colleagues, residents and relatives. Our visiting guidance remains necessarily cautious and we will monitor the situation as we increase indoor visits. Our key points will include:

For the first initial visits, there will be a nominated visitor for each individual resident. We await clarification that this is what is being prescribed by the Government. If we can allow more than one visitor we will change our guidance accordingly and will let you know about this as soon as possible.

Outdoor visits, window visits, visits using a screen and palliative care visits will also be continuing. Some homes may not be able to have visitors due to local health protection team guidance, but we hope that this will be for a very short time and for only a very small number of homes.

We would like to thank you for the continued support, patience and understanding during this time and very much look forward to welcoming you inside of our Homes once again.

View Welcoming visitors back to our homes in England

View Welcoming visitors back to our homes in Scotland

When can I visit my loved one?

We are looking forward to opening every one of our Homes to internal visits from nominated visitors very soon and have policies in place ready for this that acknowledge the latest Government guidance. Our visiting guidance remains necessarily cautious and we will monitor the situation as we increase indoor visits. Please contact your local Home for details of how to book to see your loved one.

How many visitors will be allowed for each resident?

Government guidance currently allows for one nominated visitor per resident in England and two in Scotland.

Will visitors be tested?

The nominated visitor will undergo LFD testing when they visit and our health screening will also continue. We have already ensured we have LFD testing kits in place and that our colleagues have been trained in undertaking the procedure.

Can I have physical contact with my loved one?

Visitors will be allowed to hold hands with their loved one providing appropriate PPE is worn.

Hugging is discouraged and we will review physical contact restrictions as time progresses. Initially, we do wish to be cautious and ensure risk to our residents is minimised in the early stages of a return to internal visiting.

If I am fully vaccinated, do I still have to wear PPE when I visit?

The vaccination status of the visitor or the resident will make no difference to the use of PPE at this time. Despite the increase in uptake of the vaccination, for now, PPE will continue to need to be used. Again, we will review this as time progresses in line with any guidance from Government.

What do we need to do when visits go ahead for my loved one who is shielding?

We will need to put into place special measures for residents who are shielding. This may include ensuring the visit is just a window visit at the present time.

How can I contact my relative at this time?

There are a number of ways in which you can keep in contact with your loved one and in touch with life at our Homes – by telephone, Skype, email, Facebook and other social media outlets.

We are supporting our Residents to view any messages you send over. We would love to encourage relatives, friends and members of the local community to stay in contact and we hope you will in the main take to using technology to get your messages through so that we can maintain the highest standards of hygiene and protection.

How will you support resident’s wellbeing during this emergency period?

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 – all Homes now have a smartphone allowing for WhatsApp and Skype connectivity with relatives outside of the Home. In addition, all Homes now have SMART TV connectivity enabling virtual and digital activities to take place. Some of the activities taking place across our Homes include: Armchair travel, virtual Church services, virtual pet shows, create for COVID and virtual concerts such as Andrea Bocelli’s Music for Hope.

We have also launched our Regional Wellbeing Ambassador scheme, creating a support network between the Homes with a dedicated Regional Wellbeing Ambassador appointed per region to help support and embed our Wellbeing strategy throughout this period and beyond.

Furthermore, all Homes receive Caring Homes Wellbeing Communication Packs with plenty of access to suggested resources for activities in isolation, following social distancing measures and also offering 1:1 personalised wellbeing support. Included in the packs are also activities beneficial to clients living with dementia and those in self-isolation as well as a link to the Alzheimer’s Society’s Talking Point online forum. If you’d like to get involved with any of our virtual activities – please do get in touch outreach@caringHomes.org

Vaccination

At Caring Homes we see the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccinations as key in the fight against the virus and are encouraging all our colleagues and residents to have the vaccine when it is made available to them unless there is a medical reason why they should not do so.

Our vaccination statistics show that over 92% of residents and 72% of colleagues have had their first Covid-19 vaccination. We have also made progress with some of our residents and colleagues now having received a second vaccination.

For those not yet vaccinated, there are a variety of reasons behind this including underlying conditions, needing to wait a period of time following a Covid-19 infection before being deemed safe to have the vaccination, and for some, a hesitancy around vaccination. We continue providing information from trusted sources in print, online and via our own videos and are actively promoting the vaccination amongst all colleagues and residents.

If you have a few minutes please watch our Caring Homes Vaccination Update video where some of our team, including our Clinical Director Frank Cummins, explain why they consider having the vaccine to be essential.

Are Caring Homes teams being vaccinated against Covid-19?

We see the current rollout of the Covid-19 vaccinations as key in the fight against the virus and the expectation is for all our staff to have the vaccination when it is available to them unless there is a medical reason why they should not do so. Guidance and letters have been issued to our teams about what to expect from the vaccination process and we are making sure to answer any questions and reassure on any concerns.

When will my relative be vaccinated against Covid-19?

The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines is currently taking place across the UK and care home residents are some of the first in the queue to receive the vaccine when it is available in their area. We have informed our residents and relatives of the vaccination process which we see as key in the fight against the virus. Exact timescales will vary from Home to Home so please speak to your Home Manager if you have any queries.

If a possible new resident has received their Covid-19 vaccine, will they still have the isolate when they arrive at the Home? If so, why?

We are still being advised by Government and public health that ALL new residents should self-isolate. This advice may change but at the moment there is little information on whether people can still pass on Covid-19 once vaccinated so for everyone’s safety new residents are asked to isolate regardless of their vaccination status.

If a possible new resident has received the first part of the vaccination, will the home be able to arrange the second part in the Home?

Yes, of course. If the resident is still keeping contact with their GP and this is where they got the first part of the vaccination then they will get the second that way. If not the Home will pick it up and organise for them. This will be in the 12-week period now being rolled out by Government.

If the Home I am moving into has already had the vaccination for residents how quickly will they be able to arrange for me to have the jabs?

This will be as quickly as possible depending on the progress of the vaccination rollout in the area.

Testing

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To support our visiting arrangements and ensure we are all kept safe during visits we have put in place a system of regular retesting in England and Scotland for both residents and our colleagues. The key aim of the regular testing is to continue to minimise the risk of infection and remain as vigilant as is possible to the transmission of the virus and maintain visits with loved ones when it is safe to do so. We continue to use Lateral Flow Testing in some of our Homes.

At Caring Homes, we are frequently updating our policies and procedures in line with Government and Public Health advice and keeping our residents, relatives, and stakeholders fully informed. The latest changes are fully detailed in the Q&A and latest announcement sections on this page.

Please speak to your Home Manager for further information.

How are Caring Homes protecting Residents and Colleagues?

Please be assured that Caring Homes is treating the Covid-19 pandemic extremely seriously and comprehensive contingency plans are in place for all of our Homes.

It is important to bear in mind that every year Caring Homes prepares to respond to infectious diseases, including a severe flu outbreak, and therefore, whilst this illness is new, it is very much business as usual for how we safeguard the health of our Residents and Colleagues.

All Home Managers and Colleagues are well informed and familiar with the steps we are taking and how they can help prevent the spread of infection. This includes establishing hand washing stations in the reception areas of all Homes, installing additional prominent signage about handwashing, and completing the infection control training modules through our digital learning platform.

Channels of communication are in place to ensure the latest guidance and support is available 24/7 to each Home and we have implemented comprehensive wellbeing programmes and support for Residents and Colleagues.

We continue to source supplies of all the necessary protective clothing and equipment and have been advised there will be more provided via the Department of Health and Social Care should we require it.

When will you start Lateral Flow testing for relatives for Covid-19?

We have completed the testing of all colleagues and residents across our 69 Homes. We are now participating in the next Government pilot programme which will mean that residents are tested monthly and colleagues are tested each week in addition to any additional testing following the onset of symptoms 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.

It is important to bear in mind that every year Caring Homes prepares to respond to infectious diseases, including a severe flu outbreak, and therefore, whilst this illness is new, it is very much business as usual for how we safeguard the health of our Residents and Colleagues.

How often will Caring Homes be retesting residents for the virus?

At Caring Homes, the comfort and safety of our Residents is always our top priority and we will be retesting Residents monthly under a new Government pilot for a number of reasons. Although the test itself should not be painful, it can be uncomfortable. It can also be quite distressing for some Residents, particularly those who may be unable to understand the reasons for the test being undertaken.

Although the test can be carried out at our Homes by individuals in the general population, there are potential hazards with completing the test for those living with dementia or confusion and therefore they need to be completed by someone experienced and done so extremely carefully as well as compassionately. As time progresses and new, less invasive, ways of identifying those with a positive Covid-19 status are available, we may increase the frequency of tests for Residents. If you have any questions about the test itself please speak to your Home Manager.

It should also be noted that a swab test is only a snapshot in time, it gives an indication of an individual’s Covid-19 status at the time the swab was taken. The best methods to lower the risk of Covid-19 in any Home is by ensuring there are strict admission criteria, isolation of new residents, appropriate infection control and correct use of PPE. At Caring Homes, we have all of these in place.

Admissions & Shielding

We are admitting residents throughout our Homes when it is safe to do so. New residents can use our designated, safe admission suites and benefit from a personalised wellbeing plan during their initial 7-14 days.

We continue to ensure that any potential new admission can be considered for a reduction of the 14-day isolation period once there is clear evidence that they have had a negative Covid-19 test result. We believe that the isolation period for such residents can be reduced to seven days in the Care Home if the following key criteria are in place;

  • The resident has a swab for Covid-19 within a 48-hour period of proposed admission with a negative result
  • There is confirmation from a medical professional that a resident has been isolated for at least a seven-day period whilst in Hospital
  • A health screening assessment completed for the resident on admission has been completed and does not show cause for concern
  • A further swab test is gained for the resident three days after admission and the result of this is negative, then on the final day of isolation, a negative swab is obtained via Lateral Flow Testing and this shows a negative result

The 14-day isolation period will remain where these conditions cannot be met.

What is your admissions policy at the moment?

We are welcoming new residents into areas of our Homes designated as admission suites. Ask us about our restricted visitor policy and regular routine testing for residents, visitors and teams to give you peace of mind.

We continue to not admit anyone with a positive test result for Covid-19, nor are we admitting anyone showing symptoms. 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. Local Authorities, Hospital Assessors and Discharge Teams are working with us to ensure this cannot occur.

We have very robust and stringent clinical screening processes in place, to determine whether we will admit a new Resident and we are in full discussions with Public Health, Local Authorities and CCG’s on a case by case basis to identify how we can support people needing care without placing our existing Residents and Colleagues at risk.

Before admitting any new residents there are a number of factors which influence our decision including but not limited to;

  • All Government social distancing rules must have been followed by the potential resident if being admitted from Home
  • The resident is not living in a household where others are symptomatic or confirmed positive for Covid-19.
  • If being admitted from hospital the residents must have tested negative for Covid-19 within the last 24 hours, preferably immediately prior to discharge
  • All the criteria set within our admissions screening documentation must be met
  • Any new resident must also agree to self-isolating within the Home for 14 days upon admission and remain symptom free in that period before being permitted to use any additional facilities within the Home. This can now be reduced to 7 days in some cases.

We want to assure you that the safety and wellbeing of our Residents and Colleagues is always our top priority.

How can a new resident benefit from a shorter 7-day isolation period?

We ensure that any potential new resident can be considered for a reduction of the 14-day isolation period once they have been tested for Covid-19 with a negative result. This is for the safety of all our residents, colleagues and visitors.

We believe that the isolation period can safely be reduced to seven days in the Care Home, at the discretion of the Home Manager, if the following key criteria are in place;

  1. The resident will have had a swab for Covid 19 within a 48-hour period of proposed admission and the negative result for the swab will have been obtained prior to the admission occurring
  2. There is confirmation from a medical professional that a resident has been isolated for at least a seven-day period whilst in Hospital
  3. A health screening assessment completed for the resident on admission has been completed and does not show cause for concern
  4. A further swab test is gained for the resident three days after admission and the result of this is negative
  5. The resident does not show any symptoms of Covid-19 following admission and whilst awaiting the second swab result
  6. Physical checks do not give rise to concerns during the isolation phase
  7. On the final day of isolation, a negative swab is obtained.

The 14-day isolation period will remain where these conditions cannot be met. Please talk to your Home Manager if you have any further queries regarding isolation.

How can a resident self-isolate at your Home?

Many of our Residents have en-suite rooms and can therefore elect to self-isolate in their rooms if they wish to and we are able to provide the essential contact if that is what they prefer. Many of our Homes now have a dedicated area, an Admissions Suite, to allow residents to isolate when they first arrive with us, or if they should wish to. In these areas social distancing can be strictly observed, without them having to stay in their room.

Healthcare professionals

During this unprecedented time, we have taken on-board the latest public health and Government advice to enable our care homes to continue admitting elderly and frail people safely from home and hospitals safely. We use the discharge to assess model (D2A) to provide the right support in the right way at the right time. We share our bed availability via the NHS Capacity Tracker and the information is updated daily.

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