Visitor Protocol during COVID-19 Pandemic

Information updated – 14th December 2021

Stow Healthcare continues to welcome visitors to our homes, in line with government recommendations, and following all steps required to mitigate the risks associated with visits, whilst welcoming the benefits visitors can bring.

This Visitor Protocol provides some specific information to visitors to our homes and sits alongside our Policy on ‘Visiting During the COVID-19 pandemic’, which is accessible on request.  This protocol has been updated to reflect government guidance as each new document is published, including, most recently the government’s updated guidance on ‘Care Home Visiting’ during the COVID-19 pandemic, last updated on 14th December 2021, and will be updated whenever significant changes are advised by government that impact visiting.

We continue to live in extraordinary times.  Visits to our home cannot return to ‘normal’ yet.  The advice below will support us all as we continue to support safe visiting in our homes.

General guidance around safe visiting

  • Residents in our homes have the right to see their loved ones, and we will facilitate this as much as can can, and as safely as we can.
  • Each home will have a designated visiting area, but residents may also choose to have visits where they feel most comfortable, which may often be their bedroom.
  • Appointments must be made for all visits, apart from those by Essential Care Givers
  • Residents may currently have three named visitors and an Essential Care Giver (children of pre school age do not count towards numbers).
  • All visitors should provide proof of a lateral flow test completed on the day – either in advance or on site. The test must be registered to prove the day it was completed.  The only exception to this is in urgent End of Life visits, where time is of the essence, or where a visitor has tested positive in the last 90 days, in which case proof of the positive test date will be required.
  • Communal areas may be used for visits, but only where no other resident wishes to use the area
  • Visits in residents rooms are not subject to any time restrictions. Visits in the designated visiting area will be subject to allocated time slots to ensure fairness to all
  • All residents may request to have an Essential Care Giver, and a loved one who is assigned this status must follow the protocol set out for Essential Care Givers, adhering to the safe measures and testing regime.
  • PPE must be worn. Masks may not be removed unless subject to stringent risk assessment and agreed with the directors, under very limited circumstances.  Gloves and aprons are optional, but will be offered.
  • Visitors are not subject to double COVID vaccination requirements, but are strongly recommended, especially for Essential Care Givers. Booster jabs are also strongly recommended.
  • Physical contact is permitted and encouraged.
  • Visiting hours will vary from home to home and each home will advise on arrival slot timings. This helps ensure that staff are able to process visitors safely on arrival, oversee testing etc.
  • The number of slots available each day may vary from home to home, depending on what is manageable, but each home will endeavour to provide as many as possible.
  • Where possible, a dedicated staff member will support the visiting process, but we ask you to be understanding if on some days the home cannot facilitate this.
  • If visitors require use of a toilet, staff will advise them of the closest toilet to use that minimises risk to other residents.
  • Children are permitted to visit the home. Any visits involving children should be carefully considered by the family.
  • Children aged 11 and over should wear the same PPE as adult visitors. Children under the age of 3 should not wear masks, for safety reasons.

Circumstances in which visiting in the home may need to be modified:

Unfortunately, homes may, at different times have to modify regular visiting.  The most likely reason for this is when the home is experiencing an outbreak.

In the event of an outbreak:

  • Essential Care Givers (see Essential Care Givers Protocol for further information) may continue to visit as normal, unless they or the the resident is COVID positive, in which case normal visits should not take place.
  • Visits will still be able to take place during an outbreak but these will be in the Designated Visiting Area, using the protection of a visiting pod, window visits, or substantial screens.
  • End of Life visits may be supported in all circumstances. Please discuss with the home management team.
  • Local Health Protection Teams will advise the care home when the outbreak can be declared over.

When not to visit the care home:

  • If a visitor tests positive on arrival at the home, they must immediately leave site and self isolate, ensuring they obtain a confirmatory PCR test.
  • Visitors should not come to the home if they are feeling unwell, even if they have tested negative for COVID and are double vaccinated. Tranmissible viruses such as flu, RSV and norovirus can be just as dangerous for care home residents.  They should avoid the care home for 5 days until they feel better.
  • Visitors who have been a close contact of someone with COVID and who are not legally required to isolate should not visit the care home unless absolutely necessary. Where visits must take place, visitors should have received a negative PCR test result prior to the visit, and a negative lateral flow test completed earlier on the day of the visit

Visiting Residents in Isolation:

  • Residents in a 14 day isolation period may be visited in their bedrooms with testing and appropriate use of PPE, unless they or their visitor are COVID positive.

Any questions may be referred to the home manager, or to the company directors by emailing or calling us on 01359 300470.

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