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Covid-19 – Updated visiting arrangements for care homes 5 March 2021

Sunday, 7 March 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 in each of the areas that we operate including the recent guidance relating to restoring visits to care homes.

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.

We are pleased to be able to restore visits at all of our homes from 8 March in England and 13 March in Wales. We know how upset and disappointed our residents and families have been during the suspension of visits and we would like to thank you for your patience and support over the past twelve months.

Government guidelines specify that a resident must nominate one designated visitor who will be able to visit indoors and this must be the same person each week. Visits must be booked in advance using our online booking portal which enables each of our care homes to manage visiting more effectively. If necessary, visits may alternatively be secured by telephone with the Home Manager. 

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 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, designated visitors 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.

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 ones 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.

It may be possible for a second family member to visit their loved one but this will be a window visit or an outside visit. These visits will need to be socially distanced at two metres apart and hand holding will not be permitted. This will depend on the availability of appointments and will be at the discretion of the Home Manager.

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. 

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