Visitor Protocol during COVID-19 Pandemic

Information updated – 19th July 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 16th July 2021, and the ‘COVID-19 testing for Adult Social Care Settings guidance’ last updated on 9th July 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.

Circumstances in which visiting make not take place in the home:

Unfortunately, homes may, at different times have to stop regular 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 suspend some of the enabling approaches set out below, and will include 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:

  • Indoor ‘close contact’ visits (where a screen/pod etc is not used) should ordinarily be reserved for a resident’s ‘named’ visitors, unless in exceptional circumstances – there is no limit to the number of named visitors.
  • In line with current guidance, Stow Healthcare will permit additional visitors for a screen/pod/window visit where there is spare capacity in the home’s visiting schedule. They will normally be required to attend at the same time to avoid taking up multiple visiting slots.  These additional visitors do not need to be the same each time.
  • Relatives will be allowed to book one slot per week initially, with other slots being offered where the home has capacity.
  • Visits will be in a designated safe area (indoors or outdoors), 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 visit or lateness to the visit must be informed to the home.
  • Visits will normally be 30 minutes long, with gaps between each one for disinfecting of table and chairs etc. Visits for relatives travelling a significant distance may be longer, with prior agreement of the home manager.  There may also be scope for longer visits where such visits will not impact visiting slots for others (e.g. walks in the garden or locally, or a bedroom visit)
  • 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. Please plan your visit to consider alternative local toilet access if required.
  • 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.
  • Visits including babies and very young children may also take place with prior agreement from the management team.
  • We would ask any visitors to consider whether the environment will work for a child as movement in the visiting area will be limited and may not be suitable for children who are mobile.
  • 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.
  • Residents are permitted to nominate an ‘essential care giver’ who can visit without need for appointment. These individuals need to discuss this request with the home manager, as they will be required to read and sign our ‘Essential Care Giver Protocol’ and join the home’s testing programme.

Covid-19 Relative / Next-of-Kin Visiting Procedure:

Non ‘Contact’ Visits

(usually taking place behind screen or window)

Before visiting:

  • Ensure you feel well and have no symptoms of COVID.

On arrival for the visit:

  • Please do not arrive too early for your visit. If you are early, please stay in your car until the time of the visit.
  • Please ring the front door bell to alert the home to your presence and then follow instructions to the visiting area.
  • Use a face covering supplied by the home on arrival.
  • Await staff member to begin process of booking into your visit, completing 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

During the visit:

  • The resident will be brought out by a staff member (if required the staff member will be present 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
  • Please dispose of your mask safely in the bin provided
  • The resident will be escorted back by staff

‘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:

Before visiting:

  • Visitors must either arrive at the home 45 mins ahead of their scheduled appointment to provide time for testing to take place and analysis of results to be interpreted and registered, or take an LFD test at home that day and show proof to the visitor host by way of text or email on arrival for the visit.

On arrival for the visit (if LFD test has not been completed previously that day):

  • Visitors will be required to complete the consent form provided by the home to permit for staff members to analyse personal data if required.
  • 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 the designated safe visiting area (indoord or outdoors), unless the resident is unable to leave their bedroom.
  • Visitors should wear PPE (apron, masks and gloves) at all times.
  • Visitors may have limited physical contact such as hand holding with resident, so long as PPE is in place and handwashing protocols are followed.
  • The visit can include leaving the home for a local walk, or visit to an outside venue for example. Questions about leaving the home should be addressed to the home manager.

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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