Welcoming visitors back to our homes in England
Our policies and procedures continue to be based on Government guidance and Public Health advice. Where we believe such advice has not gone far enough in helping to reduce the risk of Covid-19 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 colleagues and existing residents. The regular testing regime of colleagues and residents continues, and we have promoted both LFD and PCR testing, devising stringent policies to ensure this is done appropriately.
Our existing comprehensive admissions policy remains in place. We continue to stringently assess the possible Covid-19 risk of any new admissions to our Care Homes. This means that we do not knowingly admit to our Homes any resident with an infectious Covid-19 status, a stance we have had in place since the beginning of the Pandemic in early 2020.
We continue to monitor national statistics and are very pleased to see that there has been a significant reduction in the number of new cases of Covid-19 in the UK and a sizeable reduction in the rate of infections. We continue to gain advice from Public Health and maintain close contact with other Government bodies, seeking advice and clarification on policy as we progress.
We are looking forward to opening every one of our Homes to internal visits very soon and have policies in place ready for this. We are now simply awaiting formal Government guidance in this regard, so that we can be confident that what we propose in relation to visits meets standards expected in national guidance. We hope to welcome you inside of our Homes very soon and wish to reassure you that as soon as we are permitted, we will be actively promoting and facilitating internal visits. As soon as there is progress on this issue, we will be in contact with you, sharing any new processes and or requirements to promote safe and meaningful visits.
We have already received some information on new visiting proposals from central Government and I think it is pertinent for me to share with you what we understand may be officially proposed in relation to visits and what we have based our own policies on;
- There will be one nominated visitor for each individual resident.
- The nominated visitor will undergo LFD testing when they visit the Home and health screening of visitors will continue; we have already ensured we have LFD testing kits in place and have ensured our colleagues have been trained in undertaking the procedure.
- Visitors will be allowed to hold hands with their loved one; we welcome this change. The information we are getting through at the moment is that hugging will not be able to take place but hand holding will be allowed as long as appropriate PPE is worn by the visitor. We have always ensured that there are appropriate amounts of PPE at our Homes.
- The vaccination status of the visitor or the resident will make no difference to the use of PPE; despite the uptake of the vaccination, for now, PPE will continue to need to be used.
I thought it pertinent to mention the above to you as I note that some of the information in the media is confusing and contradicts what is being set out by the Government. The Caring Homes Steering Group has developed policies with the points above in mind so that we can hit the ground running and will only need to tweak our guidance when new official guidance is released. Our aim is to open up to visits as soon as we possibly can and to do so safely. We have already developed our policies, swab consent forms, risk assessments, visitor records, guidance on nominated visitor status and reviewed procedures for internal visits in readiness. As time progresses with internal visits and with the above procedures in place, we may soon be in a position where we can allow a further lifting of restrictions and we will work to ensure we have policies in place ready for this.
Finally, as progress appears to be being made with quelling the impact of the virus in the UK, things are changing at a pace and so I urge you to contact our Home Managers with any queries you may have and to keep an eye on our website where we will publish regular updates on any significant changes.
I would like to thank you for the continued support, patience and understanding shown towards our exceptional colleagues and very much look forward to welcoming you inside of our Homes once again very soon.
With my very best wishes to you,
Frank CumminsClinical Director, Caring Homes