View answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19
Here at The Orders of St John Care Trust our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our residents, colleagues and visitors in our services. We are providing regular updates and answers to your questions about COVID-19 via the Coronavirus Information page of this website.
View answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19
Current visiting protocols
The importance of visits in terms of resident and family member wellbeing is always utmost in our decision making on visiting protocols whilst following government and Public Health guidelines to keep our residents and employees safe. We have clear protocols in place which are developed in line with government guidance and in discussion with the Department of Health and Public Health England and it is essential that we follow these protocols consistently.
In recent weeks, the Government introduced a new Tier system, we are in a position to update visiting. The overall national picture follows, and regional exceptions can be read on our Regional Update page.
High/Tier 2 and Very high/Tier 3
If a care home is in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 location then it will not be open to visitors and potential visitors who live in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 location will also not be able to visit any care homes. There will be exceptional circumstances to these rules such as when a resident is receiving end of life care and we will conduct a thorough risk assessment to ensure we keep everyone as safe as possible. The link to government guidance is here.
Where homes are in Tier 1, they will still be accepting visits unless in outbreak status. However, potential visitors who live in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 location will also not be able to visit these homes. We will monitor this on a weekly basis.
For outdoor visits in Tier 1 homes, a maximum of two visitors from two different households, who are not come from a Tier 2 or 3 location, can visit. These visitors can change every two weeks Visitors under the age of 16 are still unable to visit in person given their heightened risk of transmission of the virus. Other visitor contact can still be suported via letters, emails, telephone calls and video calls using Skype/Zoom.
Indoor visits in Tier 1 homes can be facilitated for residents who are unable to venture outside. In line with guidance, we can only allow one constant visitor, who is not coming from a Tier 2 or 3 location. However, this constant visitor can change every two weeks. We will continue to provide support for every family member to visit their loved one in end of life care and this will remain a priority for us.
The local Directors of Public Health have a responsibility to provide us weekly updates on whether it is safe for care homes to have visits. Public Health look at a variety of information to make a decision which includes the level of local cases and geographical mapping; test and trace information; R value; Cases in care homes; care home testing of staff and residents and infection, prevention and control and Personal Protective Equipment use in care homes. In the event they were to issue a local instruction to further restrict visits to our homes we would write to you as soon as we were made aware.
We review our protocols weekly to ensure that our residents are comfortable during visits whilst keeping them protected from the risk of coronavirus. We are currently working hard on our dedicated visitor rooms to ensure the best protection is in place for internal visits.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Please contact our Press Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.