- Posted by Roger Catchpole
- On July 28, 2020
Information updated – 6th January 2021
Please note the following is the current position regarding visiting in Stow Healthcare’s homes. If you have any questions regarding visits, please call the home directly.
- No visits at all apart from end of life visits in care homes with an outbreak (you will be informed of the status of the home when you call or email to make an appointment).
- Essex County Council has halted all visits to care homes in Essex as of 5 January. Only closed window visits or end of life visits are permissible.
- For homes in Norfolk and Suffolk (if no outbreak), visits are permitted by appointment via the following means: designated safe visiting areas with substantial screens or visiting pods, or bedroom visits for end of life residents only. No ‘contact visits’ using lateral flow testing are permitted.
Please note that the general visiting information set out below has been partially superseded by this advice.
Stow Healthcare has welcomed visitors to its care homes again since Monday 27 July, following guidance set out by the government and taking into account sector-led recommendations put in place by the Care Provider Alliance.
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 by clicking here. This protocol has been updated to reflect government guidance as each new document is published, including, most recently the government’s updated guidance on ‘Visiting care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic’, last updated on 19 December 2020, and the ‘Care Home LFD testing of visitors guidance’ published on 8 December 2020, and will be updated whenever significant changes are advised by the 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.
Circumstances in which visiting must not take place in the home:
Unfortunately, homes may, at different times have to stop visiting. This may be due to a number of factors:
- Homes being placed into lockdown due to a suspected or confirmed outbreak of COVID
- Upon direction from the local director of public health
- Upon notification from the government
In this event, visitor restrictions may need to be immediately implemented which suspends some of the enabling approaches set out below and will include the exclusion of any non–essential visitors. This should be implemented in a transparent manner with open and clear communication to residents and relevant family members. Where indoor visiting cannot be permitted, the homes will endeavour to support other measures such as safe ‘window visiting’, where this is permitted.
General guidance around safe visiting:
- Visits are allowed for residents with a maximum of two constant visitors. Families should decide amongst themselves who is best placed to be the two regular visitors until restrictions are eased.
- Relatives will only be allowed to book a maximum of one slot per week initially. Where there are two ‘constant’ visitors, they will normally be asked to attend either together, or on alternate weeks. It will not normally be possible (apart from at short notice if slots remain available) to have more than one visit per week.
- Visits will be in a designated safe area unless the resident cannot access this area, in which case the visit will normally be in their bedroom. This will be subject to careful planning and risk assessment for that individual resident.
- Visits will be by appointment only and must be pre-booked. Cancellations of visits or lateness to the visit must be informed to the home.
- Visits will be 30 minutes long, with gaps between each one for disinfecting of table and chairs etc.
- Visitors should not come to the home if they are feeling unwell, are COVID symptomatic, or have been in contact with someone who is COVID symptomatic in the last 14 days
- Different processes apply for visits to residents at the end of their life. The home management team will discuss this if this applies to you.
- Visiting hours will vary from home to home and each home will advise on slot timings. 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.
- We will not be able to offer toilet access on site currently. Please plan your visit to consider alternative local toilet access if required.
Covid-19 Relative/next of kin Visiting Procedure – non ‘contact’ visits (usually taking place behind screen or window):
- Bring your own face covering
On arrival for the visit
- Please do not arrive early for your visit. If you are early, please stay in your car until the time of the visit
- Please ring the front doorbell to alert the home to your presence and then follow instructions to the visiting area.
- Await staff member to begin the process of booking into your visit, completing a health declaration and contact details, check temperature, and use the hand sanitiser provided
- Please ensure you sit at the allocated seat, there will be a table and substantial screen (or internal window) in between you and the resident (unless in case of bedroom visits)
During the visit
- The resident will be brought out by a staff member (if required the staff member will be present during the visit) and the staff member will be required to provide a level of ongoing supervision during the visit.
- Please do not touch the resident or move within 2 metres of the resident. Anyone found to do so will have visiting rights revoked. This is for the resident’s safety.
- Do not remove your mask at any point, even when you are separated by floor to ceiling screens. This is to keep the visiting area safe from infection.
- We will be unable to offer any food and drink during your visit
After the visit
- Once your 30 minutes visiting time has ended a staff member will ask you to leave the premises quickly
- Please dispose of your mask safely once off-site
- The resident will be escorted back by staff
Covid-19 Relative/next of kin Visiting Procedure – ‘contact’ visits taking place after a negative test completed with a Lateral Flow Device Test (full PPE to be worn):
Arrangements will be as for ‘non contact/screen’ visits (see above), with the following adaptations:
- Visitors must arrive at the home 1 hour ahead of their scheduled appointment to provide time for testing to take place and analysis of results to be interpreted and registered;
On arrival for the visit:
- Visitors will be required to complete the consent form provided by the home to permit staff members to analyse personal data
- Visitors will be provided with PPE and directed to the area where they are complete their self swab
- Visitors will have to wait outside of the home for 30 minutes until the test can be analysed
- Visitors will be informed if their result is positive, and will be supported with required processes.
During the visit:
- The visit should take place in the designated safe visiting area, unless the resident is physically unable to leave their bedroom.
- Visitors should wear PPE (apron, masks, and gloves) at all times.
- Visitors may have physical contact (e.g. hugs, kisses) with the resident, so long as PPE is in place
LFD testing will be supported in homes when the following conditions are met:
- Homes are able to support safe testing and analysis areas to ensuring the process can be correctly completed;
- Staff are trained and assessed as competent to support the testing process;
- The environment has been risk assessed, and necessary equipment for testing is in place, including that provided by the government, or that provided by the company. Any absence of necessary equipment should be notified to the directors for support;
- Visitors are made aware of the required safe protocols, are directed to the government guidance, and adhere to it.
- A dynamic risk assessment on LFD testing will be in place. The dynamic risk assessment will take into account all of the factors above, and will also consider the wider environment, including directions from local Directors of Public Health, tier arrangements, infection rates. Contact visits using LFD testing will only be permitted subject to the outcome of the risk assessment. This may vary for different locations at different times.
Any questions may be referred to the home manager, or to the company directors by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on 01359 300470.
We sincerely appreciate your help and support in these difficult times.