COVID-19 Testing

As you will no doubt be aware, recently that has been increased press coverage in respect of Covid-19 Testing and you may have seen our own Head of Quality, Safety and Compliance, Kim Pankhurst discussing this issue on BBC Spotlight.

I am writing to you to update you on how this is impacting the homes within the Swallowcourt Group.

In July of this year inline with Government Guidance, our Elder Care Homes began the roll out of regular testing (and retesting) of residents and staff.  This involved the weekly testing of staff and re-testing of residents every 28-days, however this is only applicable at this time to our Elder Care Homes, caring for individuals over 65 years old and those with dementia.  However, should any resident or staff member in any of our homes develop Covid-19 symptoms they would also be automatically tested and we are routinely undertaking Covid-19 tests within our Learning Disability Services.

This guidance sees us routinely performing almost 300 staff tests weekly and up to a further 120 routine resident tests every 28 days.  As you can imagine this places a significant administrative burden upon our homes and requires many of our staff to attend for testing even when they are not on shift.

However, in recent weeks we have been affected by an increasing uncertainty in securing the necessary numbers of tests required and also have been impacted by significant delays in receiving test results.  The expectation is that we should receive results for tests within 72 hours, yet we are now experiencing significant delays in results, up to 18 days in one particular instance, hence our dialogue with the local media to highlight this frustration.

Of the utmost consideration is the impact that delays in testing has on our residents and ensuring that we can balance the physical and mental well-being of every individual within our care.

At Swallowcourt we are not working in isolation and continue to routinely engage with our NHS, Local Authority and other Care Provider partners, so as to ensure that we can provide the very best outcomes not only for our residents and staff but for the wider community.

Up to Sunday 13th September 2020, 97 Care Homes in Cornwall have been affected by Covid-19 with a total of 232 residents having tested positive for the virus.  Whilst these may be concerning figures, this is lower that both the South West and National averages and by local authority area, Cornwall has the 3rd lowest rate of confirmed Covid-19 cases within care homes in the UK.

Whilst I absolutely appreciate the frustration that this virus causes in respect of visiting arrangements and contact with loved ones, we continue to take a proactive and dynamic approach to ensuring the very best of care and support for those individuals we are privileged to have live within our homes and will continue to publicly campaign against failings in the system.  We are also committed to continuing to explore and invest in innovative solutions to minimise the impact living within a time of pandemic has on the quality of lives of our residents.

We thank you for your sustained and continued patience, understanding and cooperation and send our best wishes to you and your families and hope that you will remain safe and well.

Leah Marsh
Managing Director (on behalf of Swallowcourt)