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Covid-19 – Updated visiting arrangements for Akari Care’ homes 16 December 2020

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Covid-19 –  Updated visiting arrangements for Akari Care’ homes

16 December 2020

The health, wellbeing and safety of our residents and staff continues to be our most important priority. We have noted the revised guidance issued by Government promoting the restoration of visits to care homes and the use of Lateral Flow Testing. This guidance has then been supplemented by further direction provided by Local Authorities in each of the areas that we operate.

We have been working hard to understand what Government is asking of care providers and considering to what extent we can deliver what is being asked. These considerations have all been undertaken against a backdrop of ensuring that that we keep our residents and staff, but also visitors as safe as possible.

Over the past month, we have been preparing most of our homes (with a small number of exceptions where the physical environment doesn’t allow) for screened visits within designated indoor visiting areas. This is in addition to outdoor visits, window visits and video calling. We anticipate screened visits to be operational in most homes by no later than 21 December 2020.

We have also introduced an online visitor booking system which enables each of our care homes to manage visiting more effectively. Details of how to access this system will be provided by Home Managers. If necessary, visits may alternatively be secured by telephone with the Home Manager.  Using the visitor booking will enable us to manage the volume of visitors and track and trace in a more coordinated way. Unfortunately, we will not be able to facilitate visits on Christmas Day so as to allow our staff to spend quality time with our residents and ensure the day is as relaxed and fun filled as possible. It would also be impossible to accommodate a visit for every resident on Christmas Day. We hope this is understood and respected.

Visits will be available for 30 minutes for one designated visitor. The number of visiting slots per day/week is limited and therefore we ask all visitors to be patient as we schedule visits and seek to accommodate the requirements of all visitors. All visitors will be required to follow the guidance below:

  • Visitors must not visit if they are currently self-isolating, have tested positive or experienced symptoms of Covid-19 in the past 14 days;
  • Hand washing/sanitising – It is important that visitors wash their hands thoroughly before visiting the care home and on arrival using the alcohol sanitiser gel which will be available in the designated visiting area;
  • Visitors must agree to having their temperature taken and sign a risk assessment prior to their visit;
  • Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) must be worn at all times during visits. We will provide this to visitors on their arrival. In addition, a staff member will escort visitors to the relevant area and back again;
  • Stay seated behind the protective screen and no physical touching such as hugging is permitted;
  • The designated visiting area will be carefully cleaned between visits.

We appreciate that the proposals set out will again not allow all residents to receive visits and we are very sorry that we have not been able to find a practical way to do this in all circumstances whilst still seeking to achieve our principal objective of maintaining the health and wellbeing of residents, staff and visitors. 

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. 

After very careful consideration, we do not intend to introduce Lateral Flow Testing for visitors into any of our care homes. This decision has been taken due to the following factors:

  • The accuracy, and potential lack of accuracy, of Lateral Flow Test Devices. This has led some local authorities to recommend that these Test Devices are not used since the test results cannot be relied upon;
  • The physical environment of many of our homes does not easily lend itself to having dedicated and segregated areas to accommodate the required steps needed to perform Lateral Flow Testing and undertake related visits.

We are pleased to advise that the roll out of the COVID vaccine has started. Some of our staff have already received their first vaccine dose with others set to follow over this week and next. This is great news and a significant milestone. We do not expect the vaccination of residents to begin until January. Our Home Managers are starting  to have discussions with residents with capacity about consenting to the vaccine and after having a best interest conversation with the appropriate person , for residents that lack capacity, to ensure we are ready and prepared to enable vaccinations to happen quickly and effectively.

I would like to thank you again personally and on behalf of Akari Care for your patience and understanding over the last ten months. This period has been extremely challenging and we know how much our residents have missed seeing their loved ones, and you seeing them, and we thank you for your patience, support and understanding. We believe that there is now some light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel. Whilst it will still take some considerable time for normality to return, we do believe that we are moving towards this.

Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Christmas and New Year.

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