As part of the Government’s plan for Living with Covid, we have now received an update to living, visiting and working in Care Homes. If you would like to read the full guidance, it can be found on GOV.UK.

In summary, from Monday 4th April, the new guidance allows visitors to visit residents without the need for LFD tests and to visit residents in their rooms as well as in a visiting area. Masks are still required to be worn, with a few exceptions which I will detail below. The new guidance also stops the regular testing of residents (unless there is an outbreak) and reduces the number of tests staff are required to take.

As before, the best way to avoid serious illness is to be fully vaccinated. We are currently awaiting a confirmed date for all residents to receive the next booster. We will let you know as soon as we have a firm date,

These changes have been looked forward to by many, but at the same time we need to be aware that there is still a high or very high level of infection in the community and so with our duty of care towards our residents, we will be asking families and visitors to take a few continuing precautions – Items 1 & 2 are extracts from the latest guidance.

  1. Visitors should not enter the care home if they are feeling unwell, even if they have tested negative for COVID-19, are fully vaccinated and have received their booster. Transmissible viruses such as flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and norovirus can be just as dangerous to care home residents as COVID-19. If visitors have any symptoms that suggest other transmissible viruses and infections, such as cough, high temperature, diarrhoea or vomiting, they should avoid the care home until at least 5 days after they feel better.
  2. Face masks should be worn by all care workers and visitors in care settings, irrespective of whether the person being cared for is known or suspected to have COVID-19 or not. This is sometimes referred to as ‘universal masking’ or ‘source control’ and is a means of preventing any spread of infection from the mask wearer. Other PPE is not required for visitors.
  3. We still want to manage the numbers of visitors in the Home at any one time, certainly while the community infection levels are high. We will remove the need for time slots, but we would ask that you contact the Home BEFORE arriving to ensure there is space in the lounge if you are visiting with multiple visitors or that there are not too many other visitors in the Home at the same time. We will be as flexible as we can be, but we want to avoid queues or bunching in corridors and at doors.

Mask Wearing – extracted from the guidance.

Visitors should wear a face mask when visiting a care home, particularly when moving through the home. Individual approaches may be needed as the wearing of face masks may cause distress to some residents. In circumstances where wearing a face mask causes distress to a resident, face masks may be removed when the visit is not in a communal area of the care home. However, other mitigations should be considered, including limiting close contact and increased ventilation (while maintaining a comfortable temperature).

Face masks are not routinely required when supporting someone outdoors as exhaled air is quickly dispersed. As the weather improves, many visits may be taken outside, so everyone can be “un-masked”!

 

Visits out of the care home can now be made without the need for isolation or LFD tests. However, as always, we ask that everyone is sensible with visits, trying to avoid busy places and perhaps wearing a mask if it is crowded.

There are also a few changes to the way we will manage hospital visits, new admissions and the like, but they are operational so we will not list them here. One aspect that will be continuing is that staff will still be required to wear masks and PPE when they are delivering care to our residents. Care staff will also be required to take 2 x LFD tests each week.

I hope this gives you a readable update on the new guidance. Most restrictions have now been removed, however the hope that everyone is sensible and thinks of others remains the mainstay of Living with Covid.

Please do contact the Home if you have any questions.