Coronavirus updates and information

FAQs

View answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19

My family member is a resident in one of your care homes - can I visit them?

Current visiting protocols

The national lockdown guidance supersedes all previous advice regarding visiting procedures in the different Tiers and all homes now follow the same procedures.

Visits are now only able to take place in two main ways: within designated visitor rooms or garden pods and through ground floor windows. If a suitable visitor space is not currently available your home manager will contact you directly?

We will continue to facilitate internal visits for residents receiving end of life care. Two individuals from the same household can visit at the same time. Family and loved ones from other households can also visit, but these visits must be on separate occasions and not mixing different households.

How are you planning for winter visiting?

Ensuring that residents and their loved ones continue to have face-to-face visits while keeping everyone safe and well, continues to be at the forefront of our decision making.

A key part of Government guidance issued in early November was the approval of the use of specially adapted visiting rooms within homes. 

We believe the best way to create these spaces is by making alterations internally to most of our homes, and this will take the form of floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall screens in specific rooms. The costs of this will be around £1M for the Trust to give a sense of scale. There may be a very small number of homes where we will have no choice but to have an outdoor purposed visitor pod.

We are keen to proceed immediately but I want to share some context as to why it is taking longer than you might have hoped: 

  • We needed to identify a room which has the greatest potential to remain open even if a single household in the home had to be closed due to an outbreak. Even then in some cases we need to build a temporary room.
  • Contractors can only go into one care home per day and hence it has taken time for them to scope and quote for the works. 
  • The new tiered system in England was introduced but the visitor guidance was not published for several weeks, meaning that we could not make this investment until we knew its use would be permitted

Updated lockdown guidance published by the Government last week required us to consider additional factors: 

  • Directors of Public Health in the regions could override the guidance and apply their own directive. We have reached out to gain their position ahead of announcing our protocols.
  • Every one of our c.3000 residents needs a documented risk assessment ahead of the visits. 
  • Ventilation is required to be considered in more detail, so we have had to revisit the contractors’ plans. 
     

Who is deemed to be an essential visitor?

Health professionals, including Local Authority social workers, government bodies that support the work of Public Health and key suppliers will continue to be welcomed into our homes to support our residents. Every visitor will be required to follow our strict protocols.

What do you do if resident displays symptoms of COVID-19?

We are supporting all residents to stay within their own rooms for their own protection wherever possible. This will be for a minimum period of 14 days and thereafter under constant review in line with government guidance on the spread of the infection. We will write to relatives with more detail on this as the situation develops. 

If a resident displays COVID-19 symptoms we are supporting them with 14 days of in-room care whilst wearing the required PPE. As is usual, we will contact the resident’s GP in such cases, and we are following national guidance and contacting the NHS (via NHS 111 service). In situations where two or more residents have symptoms, we are following national guidelines and notifying Public Health England.

Where a resident goes on to be confirmed as having the virus (through a valid test) they will continue to be supported by 14 days of in-room care and their health monitored and supported by the GP.

If an individual’s health deteriorates, we will notify NHS111 or Public Health England in accordance with the guidance, and we will contact the GP and paramedics as required and follow their advice along with the preferences in an individual’s care and life plans.

All homes will be supplied with sufficient PPE for all employee and resident interactions whether or not the home has confirmed or symptomatic cases. This will be for the duration of the potential outbreak, in line with government guidance.

At all of the above stages, we will contact the next of kin/assigned contact of the resident who is either symptomatic or confirmed as having the virus.

We have additional protocols in place to support those individuals who lack capacity and the Trust has its own team of Admiral Nurses who specialise in providing expert emotional support to families of residents living with dementia. If you feel you would benefit from speaking to one of the Admiral Nurses, please contact the Home Manager who can put you in touch with them.

What safeguards do you have in place when a new resident comes into the home?

The latest government guidance is that individuals from hospital will be tested before being discharged to a care home. In addition, in order to support the most vulnerable in our care communities, OSJCT protocols require any new resident coming to the home to be supported by 14 days of in-room care. Thereafter supported to remain in their rooms wherever possible and we will provide care wearing gloves, aprons and masks for this period.

Are all Homes and Schemes practising social distancing?

All employees are required to follow most recent government guidance on social distancing when not at work or on a break, and in the home where possible following our PPE guidance.

Residents are being supported to receive care within their own rooms for their own protection where required, and in eligible homes we are supporting cohorts of eligible residents to form 'social bubbles' within their households. Social bubbles of residents can make use of communal spaces in the home and enjoy activities together, while at all times adhering to strict social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

What guidance are you giving to employees who work in your homes?

We have developed strict protocols for those working in our homes. These cover things such as coming to work, managing their own health and wellbeing, uniform, infection control, equipment and supplies and of course how to keep your loved ones happy and engaged during this challenging time.

We are also making sure that our employees are supported by encouraging them to talk to their manager if they have questions or need support. In addition, we have an Employee Assistance Programme which offers confidential and free advice on a range of topics including financial matters and stress management.

Our Chief Executive is issuing regular video communication updates for all employees and has a rolling programme where a number of registered/scheme managers join him via video conferencing to provide support, listen to the most amazing stories where our homes are supporting your loved ones and listen to how else we can provide help and support.

How can I find out if my loved one is OK and keeping busy during this time?

We appreciate this is a concerning time for you and your loved ones. We can assure you that we’re trying to keep life in the home as normal as possible for all our residents whilst ensuring their health and well-being remains our top priority.

We have supplied our homes with iPads so that they can continue to have regular dialogue with you. Please contact your loved one’s home to arrange a video call.

We have a team working to provide residents with engaging activities and if your home has a dedicated Facebook page, they will be keeping you up to date through that forum.

Direct communication may be challenging at times due to how busy our services are, but please be reassured that you will be contacted by the home or scheme should there be any concern regarding your loved one.

Are you testing for COVID-19 in colleagues and residents?

We took part in the Department Health and Social Care July testing pilot for care homes. Throughout the testing pilot, 99.5% of our employees and 99.8% of our residents, received negative test results.  Unfortunately, the Government’s testing programme is now not scheduled to start with a ‘regular rhythm’ until 7 September which is very disappointing for us. This means that most of our homes will experience some level of disruption in relation to testing before we successfully receive the next round of test deliveries.

I wish to assure you that any individual who has COVID-19 symptoms, whether resident or employee, will still get tested via access to testing kits from the Government website or local testing centres.  It is the whole home weekly testing of employees and 28 day testing of residents that is being impacted.

Where a home is in outbreak (defined as two positive or clinically suspected cases of the virus, whether resident or employee) Public Health England (PHE) will contact the home and decide whether to carry out whole home testing.  The current approach of PHE is also influenced by the prevalence of the virus in the local community.  Usually a home is in outbreak for a period of 28 days from the last confirmed or clinically suspected case.

The tests we have remaining as stock in our homes will therefore be prioritised for new residents and employees and those who become symptomatic.  

The government continues to offer testing for all who need it in social care settings. Guidance on accessing testing can be found here. The testing includes:

  • All symptomatic care residents
  • All patients discharged from hospitals before going into care homes
  • All social care staff who need a test

Do you have sufficient PPE supplies?

While there was considerable media coverage regarding shortages of PPE within care homes, our early adoption of PPE ensure that none of our facilities were every understocked. All our homes and schemes have stocks of PPE that is being used in line with Government guidance. These stock levels are monitored rigorously. We have been working tirelessly seven days per week to build PPE supplies and all our residents/tenants are being supported with PPE.

Do you have enough staff to manage through this period?

We have business continuity arrangements in place in the event any home or scheme were impacted by a reduction in available workforce which to date we have not needed to call on. We have been conducting a proactive and far-reaching recruitment campaign since early this year to ensure we have sufficient employees to cover our homes during these uncertain times. We have been overwhelmed by the response to our campaign, which has been targeted specifically at industries where employees have been extensively furloughed, and we are actively onboarding new colleagues every week.

Will any homes or services be closed or put on hold?

We will do everything in our control to ensure continuity of care to your loved one. If for any reason we felt this was at risk our monitoring would identify this and we would contact our Local Authority and all next of kin/named contacts to discuss our decision making. Moving residents/tenants would be an action of last resort.

Where can I get guidance on paying of fees and charges at this time?

We understand and appreciate that some residents and their families may be experiencing financial hardship because of the spread of COVID-19. Please speak to the Home Manager in the first instance so that we can discuss and agree the most appropriate way forward which will include advising you to contact your Local Authority who have the responsibility to ensure continuity of care.

How can I work for OSJCT as a paid employee or volunteer?

We are committed to providing the highest quality of care for our residents. This is especially important right now.

We are actively recruiting and are keen to welcome applicants from other industries such as retail, travel and hospitality as well as those who have experience of care. To find out more visit our Careers page

Our volunteers contribute so much to the daily life of our residents. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, then visit our volunteers page to find out more and apply

Who should I contact if I have a media enquiry?

Please contact our Press Office at press@osjct.co.uk. Our team is working hard to respond to media enquiries in a timely manner and we thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

Read OSJCT’s model risk assessment for offices: managing the office environment safely during Covid-19 and staying Covid-19 secure 2020 certificate.

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