Families and Friends letter: 12 April
Letter from Mike Stredder, Operations Director - Living with Covid – changes to care home visiting, testing, admissions, and arrangements during outbreak.
Dear family members and friends,
Living with Covid – changes to care home visiting, testing, admissions, and arrangements during outbreak.
The Government has issued Department of Health and Social Care guidance around changes for the adult social care sector. This follows the ending of most Covid-19 legal restrictions and free mass testing from 1 April 2022. In most areas, this new guidance will help care home life return back to normality, similar to the ways we operated before the pandemic.
We are pleased that visiting in OSJCT care homes will be mostly unrestricted, except when care homes are in outbreak (confirmed by the local Health Protection Team (HPT)). The new guidance around outbreak applies to all reasons the HPT may need to close a home such as cases of flu, norovirus, chest infections and Covid-19.
Homes will still operate a visiting booking system for a few weeks, but we expect to remove the need for booking soon, when the home is not in outbreak.
Here is a summary of the key changes in the guidance which affect visiting, testing, admissions, and arrangements during outbreak:
Visiting for homes not in outbreak
- Visitors should confirm that they are fit and well before entering our services. This is to reduce the risk of illness spreading to residents and colleagues and the home being closed for an outbreak.
- Anyone who feels unwell* should refrain from visiting for at least 5 days from the day they feel better.
- Everyone should continue to wear PPE as per Government guidance. Everyone must wear face masks inside our care homes and adhere to handwashing hygiene. Visitors supporting their loved one with personal care will need to wear extra PPE as instructed by the care home. Visitors no longer need to wear face masks in care home gardens and may remove their face mask when eating with their loved one in the resident’s bedroom, if agreed with the care home.
- Visits can take place in communal areas, gardens, and bedrooms.
- Visitors should keep a safe and respectful distance from other residents and employees, to maintain social distance, especially inside the care home.
*Please be aware that any visitor who appears to be unwell, such as displaying respiratory infection symptoms, may be refused entry to an OSJCT care home, even with a negative LFD test. If you are asked to leave, please respect this decision by the care home management who make these decisions in the best interests of our vulnerable residents, and to protect our hard-working employees.
All visitors must adhere to the Visitors’ Charter. We politely remind everyone of the importance of treating our employees and others with respect when visiting our homes/sites.
- Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests must be carried out by care home employees, volunteers, and any visitors who are involved in providing personal care to their loved one, as part of the home’s testing protocol. Tests should be carried out up to twice a week before arriving at the care home, using an LFD provided by the care home.
- Employees of the NHS and CQC will need to test for Covid-19 within 72 hours prior to visiting the home and show a negative test result.
- Residents will no longer have routine PCR tests, unless they show symptoms of a transmissible illness, or the home goes into outbreak. In these instances, they will be tested with an LFD test to rule out Covid-19.
- Visitors and contractors not providing personal care will not be asked to test before they enter a care home.
- New residents from the community will be asked to do a PCR test (or an LFD test if Covid-19 positive in the previous 90 days) 72 hours prior to moving into an OSJCT care home and an LFD on the day of their move. The tests will be provided by the care home.
- Residents moving from an NHS hospital will need to have a PCR (or LFD if Covid-19 positive in the previous 90 days) 48 hours prior to moving into an OSJCT care home. Tests to be provided by the NHS.
- If a prospective resident tests positive for Covid-19 their moving date may be postponed.
- Prospective residents and their family members can visit an OSJCT care home and be shown around the whole home, as long as the home is not in outbreak.
- New residents will be tested for Covid-19 before moving into an OSJCT care home (see above).
- Most residents who are negative for Covid-19 on moving into care homes will not need to isolate in their rooms unless they subsequently show symptoms of being unwell or the home goes into outbreak.
- Any resident who has tested negative for Covid-19 but comes from a hospital or another social care setting which was in outbreak when they left, will be supported with up to 10 days of in-room support before being able to join the care home community, to minimise the risk of inadvertently bringing Covid-19 into a care home.
- New residents can move into a care home in any circumstance, subject to the Home Manager’s agreement. A risk assessment may be carried out in certain circumstances.
Homes in outbreak
- Homes may be given ‘outbreak’ status, in consultation with the local HPT when cases of flu, norovirus, chest infections, Covid-19 or other transmissible infections are confirmed.
- New residents may be able to move into a home which is in outbreak, if the HPT agree that the risk of spread is low.
- During outbreak, visiting by family and friends will be restricted to just one visitor per resident, to be booked in advance with the care home.
- Visits may be restricted to a resident’s bedroom, the home’s screened visiting room or garden visiting pods.
- During a Covid-19 outbreak, all residents and employees will be tested at the outset, and then on days 4 and 7. If all employees and residents test negative from days 8 and 9, the home can come out of outbreak on Day 10. If testing is carried out by PCR there may be a slight delay in receiving test results. Testing during outbreaks for other reasons will be specific to the infection.
- When a home is in an outbreak it is preferable for prospective residents and their family members to arrange an online show round and meeting with the home’s Manager; however, it may be possible to arrange to see a bedroom on a ground floor.
If you have any questions, please contact your Home Manager. We thank you for your patience and understanding as we monitor, manage, and respond to the impact of these national changes in our services.
With best wishes