Latest update: w/c 17th August
Latest update for family and friends
Dear family member/loved one,
COVID Testing and Visiting Protocols
We last wrote to you on 31 July to share with you that we had been in a four week pilot of regular testing, and that we hoped to transition seamlessly into the new government testing programme for all care homes that was due to start at the beginning of August. 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 COVID19 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.
You will also be aware that the government announced new visitor guidance recommending a ‘single constant’ visitor for all residents, with other visiting options being covered under an individual risk assessment. Whilst in principle this was workable, in practice it was not. Every one of our residents needs regular visits from their family, friends and loved ones, and a single constant visitor would be distressing for our residents (and their families) in terms of having to choose between friends and family members who were able to visit. Undertaking multiple risk assessments for every exception is also not practicable for our homes given the significant demands on their time. We have therefore implemented the following visitor protocol:
• For outdoor visits – a maximum of two visitors from two different households 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 supported via letters, emails, telephone calls and video calls using Skype/Zoom.
• For indoor visits with residents who are unable to venture outside, we can only allow one constant visitor, in line with guidance. 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.
Where a home is in outbreak status, for the duration of the outbreak an individual risk assessment will need to be undertaken with the home ahead of any visit. This will take account of the wellbeing of our residents, the details of the outbreak status, local transmission advice in the community, and your individual circumstances.
An appointment must be made ahead of any visit as our homes schedule visits at times where they have capacity to adhere to the protocols and support you in terms of a briefing, organising the personal protective equipment to keep everyone safe etc., and hence any unannounced visits are likely to be refused.
The safety of our residents, tenants and employees is paramount in our decision making and we require all visitors to follow our protocols and guidelines. Unfortunately, we will refuse visitation for anyone who does not adhere to these guidelines which are in place to ensure the safety of all.
We are actively working on introducing internal ‘visit rooms’ to ensure that our homes remain open for visiting as the weather gets colder. We will share more about this as our plans are finalised.
We continue to endeavour to operate our homes in a ‘business as usual’ way as much as possible whilst adhering to government guidance and the use of personal protective equipment. Our residents are fully utilising our outdoor spaces and having socially distanced garden parties. We are also maintaining a programme of activities which can be viewed on our website under OSJCT Moments or on our social media channels.
We continue to welcome new residents, employees and volunteers into our homes, and we thank you for the ongoing support that you are giving our homes and colleagues.
If you wish to view further information for visitors, please click on this link to take you to our visitor information news page.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your home or our enquiry line 0800 988 8133 will be manned Monday to Friday 8.30am – 6pm and 8.30 – 5pm on Saturday whereby we will endeavour to answer your questions.