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Covid-19 - Updated visiting arrangements for care homes

Monday, 12 April 2021

Covid-19 – Updated visiting arrangements for care homes

12 April 2021

 

The wellbeing and safety of our residents and staff remains our most important priority. We have continued to monitor changes in guidance from Government and Local Authorities including the recent revisions to guidance concerning visits to care homes.

Over the past month we have been delighted to be able to restore visits at all of our homes in England and in Wales. It has been lovely to see how so many of our residents have been able receive visits from their designated visitor and to welcome visitors you back into our homes. The photographs on social media reflect the enjoyment experienced and it has given both our residents and staff a boost to see the beneficial impact that restoring visits has had on our residents’ wellbeing. 

Updated Government guidelines (in England) now specify that a resident may nominate two designated visitors who will be able to visit indoors and have stipulated that this must be the same two people each week. In addition, grandchildren (under two years of age) may also visit and will not be counted as designated visitors. Residents and their two designated visitors must give careful thought and consideration to this and we will keep the subject of children visiting our homes under close review, so as to ensure that we keep our residents, staff and visitors as safe as possible.

Within Wales, our visiting guidance published on 5 March 2021 is unchanged.

Visits must continue to be booked in advance using our online booking portal where possible. If necessary, visits may alternatively be secured by telephone with the Home Manager.  Visits will be available for 30 minutes for two designated visitors. The number of visiting slots per day/week remains limited and therefore we ask all visitors to be patient as we schedule visits and seek to accommodate the requirements of all visitors. Our preference is for two designated visitors to visit at the same time thereby using one visiting slot. In this way, we can be fair to all residents and designated visitors and avoid situations where one resident may not be able to receive a weekly visit due to lack of availability.

All designated visitors will be required to follow the guidance set out in our updated visiting policy. On arrival, each designated visitor will be asked to follow the guidance summarised below:

  • Complete a risk assessment and confirm their agreement to have a Lateral Flow Test and have their temperature taken. Additionally, each designated visitor must agree to comply with our Responsible Visitor Code;
  • Lateral Flow Tests take approximately 30 minutes to produce a result. Designated visitors must wait in the designated area assigned by the Home Manager or their vehicle whilst the test result is determined. Designated visitors will need to swab their throat and nose, then our staff will complete the remainder of the test and register the test result;
  • Visits will be allowed to take place only where a negative test result is recorded;
  • Test results which record a positive test result will result in visits being cancelled and rescheduled after the designated visitor has isolated for 10 days. A PCR test will need to be completed at the home;
  • Inconclusive test results will also result in visits being cancelled and rescheduled;
  • Designated visitors must not visit if they are currently self-isolating, have tested positive or experienced symptoms of Covid-19 in the past 14 days or where they have had contact with someone else meeting these criteria;
  • Hand washing/sanitising – It is important that designated visitors wash their hands thoroughly before visiting the care home and on arrival using the alcohol sanitiser gel which will be made available;
  • Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) must be worn at all times during visits. We will provide this to designated visitors on their arrival. In addition, a staff member will escort designated visitors to the relevant visiting area and back again; and
  • Children (under two years of age) will not be able to wear a mask or to take a Lateral Flow Test so their parent will be responsible for answering all health screening questions for them.

Wherever possible, visits will take place in a designated visiting area and these do not have to take place behind a screen. For our residents who are nursed in bed, visits will take place in their bedrooms. Designated visitors will be able to hold their loved one’s hand, but gloves must be worn, and no other physical contact such as hugging and kissing is currently permitted. Please respect this guidance. If designated visitors breach this guidance, it will result in their loved one having to undertake precautionary isolation in their room for 10 days and visits will be suspended.

We must continue to maintain strict infection control procedures to reduce the risks associated with Covid-19 and mitigate the risks of transmission and future outbreaks in any of our care homes. In so doing, this will help us maintain the wellbeing of our residents, staff and visitors.

We will be prioritising indoor visits, over both garden and window visits, but will continue to facilitate garden and window visits where possible. We ask for your continued understanding to enable our staff to manage all visits as carefully as possible. Garden and window visits will continue to be at the Home Manager’s discretion and will depend on availability of appointments. These visits will need to be socially distanced at two metres apart and hand holding will not be permitted.

The Home Manager may postpone or pause visits at any time without notice, for the safety of all, or as instructed by Government or Public Health. Situations where this might be required include where a positive COVID test is reported within a home. This may result in visits being cancelled at short notice, but we will do our best to give as much notice as possible. 

We would once again like to thank you for your continued patience, support and consideration and look forward to seeing more of you over the coming weeks.

If you have any questions, please speak to the Home Manager in the first instance or email corona.helpline@akaricare.co.uk

Karen Harkin

Chief Operating Officer