What does freedom mean for care homes?

13 August 2022

COVID-19 Freedom Day – What to expect in our care homes

The health, safety and well-being of our residents and staff continues to be paramount at AgeCare Care Homes. We are continuing with a robust and comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic with plans kept under regular review and updated as and when advised by public health authorities and in line with national and local guidance.

We are continuing to welcome new residents into our care homes, therefore if you are trying to find a “care home near me” please do not hesitate to contact us. We would like to reassure you that when we admit new residents and patients we have clear protocols in place to ensure that it is appropriate for them to move in. We also ensure that any new residents coming into our homes, whether from a local hospital or the community, have been tested in advance as well as follow any local admission procedures that are in place due to varying factors in the local area.

This page details the latest guidance from AgeCare Care Homes about the policies that we have implemented into our homes to ensure we provide safe and effective care for our residents during the pandemic. This information is intended for residents, relatives, staff and any visitors to our homes.

Our current visiting guidelines after “Freedom Day” (July 19th, 2021)

We are constantly in liaison with local authority and Government departments to keep abreast of the latest developments in regards to the pandemic. We continue to maintain extensive infection control measures in our homes during this crisis. Whilst the Government has allowed the country more freedom since the successful vaccination program, care homes are still the most at risk when it comes to the COVID-19 infection. Therefore, whilst there is no limit now in terms of who can visit, we still have strict protocols in place to ensure that the risks associated with COVID-19 transmission are managed.

With this in mind, prospective residents and their families are very much welcome to visit the home to meet the management as well as have a tour of the home. To do so, lateral flow tests will need to be completed before hand and the tour will be confined to areas that will ensure there is limited possibility of viral transmission. If you would like to arrange a visit, or perhaps a virtual tour, please use our online enquiry form.

As restrictions are being reduced, relative visits can occur “in-house” in the resident’s room, in one of our “secure pods” or via the gardens, these need to be pre-arranged with the management and also subject to some restrictions, full details of which will be provided to you in advance of your meeting. Lateral flow testing prior to visits is common place, please understand that whilst the virus is still very much present within the local populace, we are simply trying to ensure that our residents and staff are kept as safe as possible.

The Registered Manager may postpone visits at any time without notice, should they feel it necessary for the safety of all or as instructed by government or public health guidance. This may result in visits being cancelled at short notice, however we will always strive to provide you with as much notice as is possible.

All of our homes have the necessary facilities to enable video calling, “FaceTime” or other virtual meeting medium to enable you to keep in touch more regularly and our staff are doing all they can to ensure that life in our services remains as comfortable and sociable as possible.

We ask that you do not visit if you are currently self-isolating, have tested positive or experienced symptoms of Covid-19 in the past 14 days. We will also ask to take your temperature and take a lateral flow test. During your visits we may ask that you wear face coverings or other PPE to reduce any potential risk of transmission. In addition, a staff member may be present during your meeting to assist you or your family member.

You will be asked to fill out a track and trace form prior to each visit that will also list full details of our current policy. Please ensure to read this in it’s entirety for any changes that may have taken precedence.

How we protect residents and staff

Staff and residents are the heart of our business. To protect them , all staff and residents have been offered (and in most cases received) the COVID-19 vaccination. Whilst the vaccine is one of the most effective ways to prevent severe illness from the disease, we continue our rigorous testing regime for coronavirus as this is the only way we can attempt to prevent the virus entering the home. As the vaccines efficacy is not 100%, the only true way to prevent infection is to avoid transmission as much as possible. Current guidance is to test staff three times a week (two lateral flow and one PCR) and residents every 28 days. In the event of a positive test, regardless of symptoms, the home will alert the local Health Protection Agency and their advice will be sought, generally during such times visiting will be restricted until we can be sure that the case is isolated. In the event of multiple cases identified, the home will be locked down and residents quarantined to their rooms to ensure that transmission is minimised. Thankfully this has been a rare occurrence amongst our group, yet when this method has been used it is the most effective way to prevent further outbreaks.

Our staff are all trained in infection control and are vigilant to the symptoms of COVID-19. We have clear processes to follow if a resident or member of staff show such symptoms including isolation wherever necessary in line with government advice as well as ways in helping us fighting COVID-19.

Should your loved one display symptoms or test positive to coronavirus, we would call and discuss the situation with you personally.

How are we keeping residents stimulated?

We are very aware that an important part of living in a care home is being able to socialise and enjoy physical, mental and spiritual activity that is vital for overall well being, and we are delighted that our weekly activity plans continue to engage our residents and have great new ways of keeping everyone active. We are indebted to our staff for providing not only excellent care, but helping to continue to stimulate our residents whilst showing true warmth and compassion during such dark times.

As restrictions are reduced, our activities programmes are being enhanced with an abundance of external providers now able to perform again for us, however they will do so safely via routine testing and with most activities taking place outdoors during clement weather.

Our staff

We are extremely proud of our amazing staff who are working tirelessly to ensure you and your loved ones are kept safe and happy. Equally we are indebted to the many families that arrived on our doorsteps to “clap for carers” during the early days of the pandemic and who continue to show love and affection through their messages and best wishes. We are so thankful of your support during this time.

We are humbled by the compassionate team of care workers that we employ who are willing to put the care of our residents first. We are truly blessed to work with a group of people that have a positive attitude to do the right thing and to ensure that our residents are kept invigorated. If you have had a great experience please do leave a review on carehome.co.uk or Google and we will ensure to share your experiences with the staff.

Monitoring Standards of Care

Our Director of Care and Compliance Manager have continued to visit our services during the pandemic to ensure that standards of care are maintained. These visits occur in the garden or safe zones so that they do not come into contact or risk spreading any potential infection. There are very stringent protocols for these members of staff to follow, including daily testing prior to site entry and infection control protocols. We believe that this is the right approach for ensuring that the care we provide is to the highest standard, whilst balancing the safety of our residents and staff. We have continued to have resident meetings as usual and we are having virtual relatives meetings where possible.

People living with Dementia

This disease has clearly been most testing for our residents living with dementia, however we continue to support and maintain their health and well being during this time. Our highly skilled team have adapted to the measures and continue to provide a calm, relaxed aura within the home that helps those afflicted with dementia not feel unduly stressed.

Personal Protective Equipment – PPE

From the outset of the pandemic, we continue to have a robust supply chain of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) in place, and our staff are using this in accordance with the public health authority guidance. All of our staff continue to use full PPE throughout the building as per Government/PHE policy and we remain confident that our supplies are kept well stocked and all of our services have what they need.

Relatives visiting “in-house” are similarly required to be tested on site, wear PPE including mask, gloves and a gown to further reduce the potential of transmission. Again, whilst this can seem to be over-zealous, we are actively seeking to ensure that the virus does not have the ability to transfer into our homes.

Keeping up-to-date with the latest news

With developments happening continually we are keen to keep in touch with you as best we can. We try to provide at least a monthly update direct to relatives, more so depending on how the situation can change. However, if you would like to discuss more pressing issues, please do not hesitate to speak to the management of the home or via our contact page.

If you have any feedback or questions in regards to the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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