Latest visitor guidance
October 5th 2021
- · A brief update on our response to the Covid virus
As colder weather now approaches, and the Covid vaccination booster programme is being organized by the NHS, we thought that now may be a good time to update you on progress in relation to management of our care homes during the Covid Pandemic.
You will no doubt be aware that Covid vaccination has been made mandatory for all staff working in a care home setting. Even prior to the vaccination being made mandatory, over 90% of our staff had been vaccinated, which is a real positive, and evidence of the commitment of our staff to keep themselves and our residents as safe as possible from the Covid virus. We are now looking at booster vaccinations for residents and staff and I believe it is important for us to update you on the Company stance with regards to such vaccinations.
We will be actively encouraging all of our staff and residents to have the booster vaccination. Those working in Care Homes have been identified as a high-risk group due to the nature of their general duties and also by the fact that they work with extremely vulnerable people.
We will be guided by what the government says as to whether these vaccinations will be made mandatory for our staff, but whether the booster vaccination is made mandatory or not, we wish all staff to have the booster vaccination given the nature of their role. We also ask that you consider having the booster vaccination as well as soon as you are offered the same, to help minimize the risk of Covid infection possibly caused by visitors bringing the infection into the Home. All of us have a part to play in promoting the safety and well-being of our residents and our staff and all our Senior Management team will be having booster vaccinations as soon as they are able to do so.
At the present time, we are also actively encouraging staff and residents to have the influenza vaccination. This will be particularly important this year as we believe there could be an increase in cases of influenza in the general population. The reason for this is that due to social distancing and the wearing of PPE as well as lockdowns to prevent the spread of Covid, flu levels were extremely low last winter.
As a result, it is expected people will have a lower general level of immunity against the flu for this winter. Coupled with this, there has been the lifting of some Covid restrictions with more people having closer contact with each other in places such as pubs and restaurants which could increase influenza spread. This could lead to an increase in cases of influenza in the general population and therefore an increased risk of this spreading to our care homes and is something we are very wary of. If you are a regular visitor to one of our care homes, can we ask that you have the influenza vaccination if you are able to do so and also do not visit if you have any flu-like symptoms.
Our policies and procedures continue to be based on government guidance and drafted following consultation with government bodies, including Health Protection. If we have believed official guidance has not gone far enough in helping to reduce the risk of Covid infection, we have added to the official guidance to make our own policies and procedures more robust. Our priority remains as always, the ongoing safety and wellbeing of both our colleagues and our existing residents. Our comprehensive admissions policy remains in place, and we continue to stringently assess the possible Covid risk of any new admissions to our care homes. This means that we do not knowingly admit to our homes any resident with an ongoing positive Covid status, a stance we have had in place since the beginning of the Pandemic in early 2020.
We are pleased that we have been able to continue to allow internal visits in our Homes. Although we have been able to lift some of our original visiting restrictions, some restrictions remain in place as we are very wary of the risk of Covid being brought into the Home and are constantly reminded when devising visiting policies that should a Home have an outbreak of Covid, a restriction on all visits will be advised by Health Protection for a prescribed period of time.
Our present visiting policies appear to have the desired effect of reducing the risk of outbreaks in our Homes and we will only lift restrictions incrementally and only following study of official guidance and analysis of national and local Covid statistics. The main reason why visits remain structured is we must take note of recommendations made in official government guidance as well as be aware of the concerning numbers of new cases of Covid everyday in the UK.
Since March 2020, we have issued to our Managers over 180 pieces of guidance to assist them in the management of their home during the pandemic. We are well aware of the enormous pressures that our Managers and our staff have faced since the start of the pandemic, and we thank them all for their professionalism and their duty. We would also like to thank you for the support you have given them. We have received numerous letters from relatives in Head Office asking us to personally thank our teams and every letter is very much appreciated.
Tracey Fletcher-Ray - Managing Director
Frank Cummins – Clinical Director