With recent relaxations to Government guidance in respect of social distancing within the local community and in households, I am writing to update you on Swallowcourt’s policy in respect of visiting arrangements within our homes.
Unfortunately, the obligation for social distancing will remain in health and care environments and, whilst we recognise that friends and family members are a vital support, the health and safety of our residents and staff are our first priority.
The latest information from the Government reveals that new infections in English care homes continue with 106 recorded in the week to 21 June. We also remain mindful that there is a continued risk of a second-wave pandemic and therefore, in line with the latest guidelines related to COVID-19 and risk reduction within Adult Social Care Settings, we are contacting you to communicate our latest visitors’ guidance.
At this time, no visitors will be permitted into any of our homes where there is a COVID-19 positive resident, or someone who is symptomatic of COVID-19 and awaiting a test result. In otherwise exceptional circumstances, one ‘essential visitor’ may be permitted into a resident’s bedroom i.e. end of life compassionate grounds for care homes and where there are no COVID-19 residents present in the facility. This will be the same person for any subsequent agreed visits. Required PPE precautions must be taken by the visitor, under the direction of a member of care home staff.
Where our home is totally negative for COVID-19, residents may receive no more than two visitors at a time in an outdoor area, where physical distancing measures can be observed. The visit will be arranged for a pre-determined period of time based on the residents needs and relevant risk assessments of the particular home. Issues such as estates restrictions (such as availability of outside space), capacity of staffing and operation of a booking system to avoid possible contact between residents and their visitors will be considered prior to limited outdoor visiting being made available within our facilities. It should be noted that some care homes may not be able to facilitate this due to lack of outside space.
We are currently exploring additional fit for purpose and weather resilient facilities to enable external visits, in line with our current guidance. When these are available, they will support further, more relaxed arrangements where our overall guidance and risk assessment process allows.
In the event a resident or visitor does not follow physical distancing measures and, as a result has physical contact, they will have to be isolated from other residents for a period of 14 days or until the home receives confirmation of two negative COVID-19 tests following contact.
We also recognise that many of our homes are aged buildings and do not have the IT or telecommunications infrastructure in place to provide connectivity to all areas of the home. As the Covid-19 pandemic necessitated the restriction of visitors to our homes, this exposed weakness in our systems and networks to support increased use of portal devices and mobile telephones in all areas of the home. Over recent weeks we have engaged with our telecommunications and internet service providers to explore how improved coverage can be provided throughout each home. Unfortunately, with continued restrictions required to all but essential visitors there is no immediate resolution which will require a degree of physical installations to be undertaken. However, please be assured that we recognise this is a priority that we are working to remedy with solutions that will also permanently improve our systems.
We appreciate that for many, the last few months have been concerning and frustrating but please again appreciate that our top priority is the safety of our residents and staff. Thank you for your continued understanding and support.
We send our best wishes to you and your families and that you will remain safe and well.