What measures have been taken so far to protect the residents and staff?
As well as using PPE (personal protective equipment) in a home for residents who have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 we are also using PPE when delivering care and other services within two metres of all other residents in that home. This therefore applies to personal care, assisting our residents who need help with eating, when delivering medication and when providing one to one activities at a resident’s bedside or chair, as examples. This is intended to minimise the risk of spread of the infection from one resident to another. I hope that these measures reassure you, when you are not able to visit as usual, that we are taking every appropriate infection control measure to safeguard your loved one.
How do we isolate in a care home and prevent the resident from deteriorating emotionally and physically?
Our Director of Memory Care and Activities has provided guidance to all our homes on supporting residents to keep well while in isolation. This includes a ‘My Isolation Plan’ for every resident, detailing the resident’s routine of preferred meaningful activities in order to provide a sense of purpose. Activities are planned to support some physical action with chair-based exercises; window-based activities for maximum access to daylight and sunshine and also a range of stimulating 1:1 activities, including quizzes, word searches, poems, colouring pages, crosswords, short stories, and copies of the Daily Sparkle.
Are residents’ and staff being tested for COVID-19?
As you may have heard the availability of testing for both residents and team members is now improving. This is good news. We are already seeing across a number of our homes team members being invited to attend for testing. We are also anticipating increased availability of testing for our residents who have symptoms. As the care sector is large with many thousands of homes, we expect this to gradually roll out over the next couple of weeks.
In the interim, our infection management protocols will remain the same. The tests being offered will tell whether the person has the infection at the time of the test. They are not antibody tests, which tell whether someone has had the infection previously.
How are residents being kept informed of changes within the home due to COVID-19?
The residents have been regularly communicated to by our CEO by letter and the management within the home have been providing daily update to all residents.
Why are team members not wearing PPE (personal protection equipment) all the time?
The Public Health bodies updated national guidance for use of PPE on Thursday 2nd April and our policies on PPE utilisation comply with that guidance. We’ll continue to review both national and international evidence and guidance to inform our policies on PPE utilisation as we move forwards.
We are using PPE when delivering care and other services within two metres of all other residents in that home. This therefore applies to personal care, assisting our residents who need help with eating, when delivering medication and when providing one to one activities at a resident’s bedside or chair, as examples. This is intended to minimise the risk of spread of the infection from one resident to another.
Do we have enough PPE as the media make it known that even the NHS is struggling?
We remain well stocked with all items of all PPE that we need – masks, gloves, aprons and visors, as well as equipment which we need more rarely – and we have sufficient supplies to see us through the duration of the pandemic.
What happens if many team members become affected? how will we manage to care for the residents?
Whilst we have had a number of team members absent with symptoms of COVID-19 many of them are now recovered and back in work. We have a number of other team members who have been advised to self-isolate, at home, to protect their own health during the pandemic.
The extra strain this has presented has been addressed by team members stepping in and covering for colleagues, some rapid recruitment of new team members and some use of agency workers too. Despite the challenges, we do not believe we have compromised on the standards of care being delivered. In addition, by all pulling together, despite the isolation, we are trying to provide stimulating activities and entertainment wherever possible.
If an outbreak occurs would family members and friends be informed?
Whilst we understand this is a very worrying time for you we can assure you that our residents are being looked after to the highest of standards. We would inform you if the home has an outbreak.
Can family members and friends be with residents at end of life?
Yes, we are restricting this to 2 persons but we would support you to be with your loved one if they were end of life
Are residents and sitting 2 metres away from each other in the home?
Yes, we are practising social distancing in all our homes/communities
Are we still allowing new residents into our homes?
We are, in fact, receiving few enquiries from NHS hospitals asking to discharge patients to our homes and we are being extremely cautious in acceding to such requests. Our prime responsibility is to the wellbeing of our current residents and that comes before everything else.
As our residents are all particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 infection, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend all visits from relatives and friends, unless in exceptional circumstances. We do not take this decision lightly; reducing visitors into our homes will help protect the health and safety of residents which is our priority. Visits from healthcare professionals and for matters relating to health and safety continue with appropriate precautions.
Our intention is to follow public health advice to determine when visits will return to normal. We will continue to do our best to support residents to keep in touch with loved ones via other methods, such as phone and video calls, letters or emails in the short term.