Covid-19 Updates - We are Vaccinating

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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.

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 as well as our teams of the vaccination process.

Exact timescales will vary from Home to Home and we have answered some popular questions in our Q and A section below but if you have any queries please speak to your Home Manager.

If you have a few minutes please watch this Caring Homes Vaccination Update video where some of our team, along with 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.

Visiting

On the evening of the 19th December 2020, the Government updated its Visiting guidance for Care Homes. This guidance states that visits will only be allowed if they are Outdoor or Screened Visits where Lateral Flow Testing is not being undertaken. We have been piloting Lateral Flow Testing but are not ready to roll it out across all Homes.

Therefore, visiting for the foreseeable future must be either;

  • Outdoor Visits
  • Window Visits
  • Visits using a screen
  • Palliative Care Visits

Visiting will be dependent on a number of key factors which will include an assessment of the risk associated with allowing visits in general , an assessment of risk on allowing specific types of visits, consideration of the physical safety, wellbeing and vulnerability of our residents, the rate of local infections as well as expert advice gained from local Public Health Departments.

Visiting may be closed in some Homes 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.

You can see our visitor guides for England and Scotland by using the link below. Please contact your Home Manager to discuss the best ways for you to visit your loved one at this time.

When can we visit the Home?

On the 19th December 2020, the Government updated its visiting guidance for Care Homes. This guidance states that visits will only be allowed if they are Outdoor or Screened Visits where Lateral Flow Testing is not being undertaken. We have been piloting Lateral Flow Testing but are not ready to roll it out across all Homes.

Therefore, visiting the foreseeable future must be either;

  • Outdoor Visits
  • Window Visits
  • Visits using a screen
  • Palliative Care Visits

We are busily supporting residents and relatives to arrange these visits and 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. We have had to put into place a number of strict protocols to allow visits to go ahead safely and will ask for your support with these.

It is important to note in relation to visits that due to the high risk of Covid-19 and the affect it can have particularly on persons who are elderly or persons who have underlying conditions, any visits will need to happen in a controlled and organised manner and keep in mind three key principles:

  • The safety of residents, their visitors, and colleagues
  • The Shielding of our most vulnerable residents
  • Minimising the risk of infection

Visiting will vary on a Home by Home, resident by resident basis so please contact your Home Manager for more information.

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

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.

Any questions?
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