2nd Dec 2020
We are pleased to announce changes are coming and we are reviewing the newly published guidance for visiting in care homes so we can update our policy and procedures. To date we have not received any communication about receiving tests and do not have any supplied. As soon as this changes we will be in touch with all our visitors to implement the new procedure in a safe way. To confirm we will be continuing as our current policy until we are in a position to start testing and looking forward to some sort of normality returning.
Also we have not had any confirmed communications about vaccines and again will provide any updates as and when we get them.
Website update – Visiting our Homes
At this time the rate of Covid-19 community transmission still needs to be carefully managed and we at First Care Homes are ensuring that all the necessary and appropriate precautions are in place, to protect both the health & safety of our residents and our colleagues.
We believe that maintaining some opportunities for visiting to take place is critical for supporting the health and wellbeing of residents and their relationships with friends and family.
Decisions about visiting
These current guidelines apply from November 2020 and take into account the latest national guidance published by government on 5th November 2020.
Each Care Home is responsible for assessing and balancing the risk between the benefits of visiting on wellbeing and quality of life and reducing the risk of transmission of Covid-19 to colleagues and vulnerable residents.
Our risk assessments must formally take into account the advice of the local Director of Public Health who also has legal powers to issue directions to care homes, which can include instructions to stop visits to the home (unless there are exceptional circumstances).
We are as a company accessing all available testing, ensuring colleagues have a weekly Covid-19 test and residents are tested once a month in line with government guidance.
Temporary closure to visitors due to Covid-19
In the event of an outbreak of Covid-19 in one of our Care Home or local or national guidance requiring such, the Home will quickly move to stop face to face visiting (except in exceptional circumstances such as end of life) to protect vulnerable residents, colleagues and visitors, and to follow local policy arrangements.
During any Home closure where face to face indoor visiting is not possible, alternative ways of communicating between residents and their families and friends are discussed and offered, with each Home doing all that they can to keep residents in touch with families.
Visiting will not be re-started until it is clear that it is safe to do so. We will share updates on the any changes to visiting with residents and relatives as quickly as we can.
- All visits must be pre-arranged at least 24 hours ahead with the manager at the home. This is to ensure there are enough colleagues to keep visitors and residents safe, and that all policies are followed e.g. cleaning.
- Visits will be restricted to one single, constant person, where possible. Only in exceptional circumstances, might more visitors be possible, following a discussion with the Home Manager who will consider the situation and advise families accordingly.
- Visits may be cancelled at short notice if they cannot be safely carried out in accordance with government guidelines, the weather is inclement or where the resident is unwell.
- First Care Homes support NHS Test and Trace and is keeping a record of visitors in the event contact tracing is required.
- Visits should happen in the open air wherever possible, but we recognise that for many residents and visitors this will not be appropriate during the winter months.
- Visits will be restricted in time and frequency to ensure safety for residents, colleagues, and visitors.
During a visit
- Visitors must follow any guidance or procedures put in place by the Home, to ensure everyone complies with infection prevention control.
- Visitors are required to complete our health screening questionnaire which includes questions on whether they have any Covid-19 symptoms (a high temperature; a new continuous cough; a loss or change to your sense of smell and taste).
- If you currently have or have had Covid-19 symptoms in the last 10 days, you and anyone who you have had contact with, will not be allowed to enter.
- You should not attend if you are unwell with symptoms other than Covid-19 to avoid passing on any other illnesses to the residents.
- If you have been advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, you will not be allowed to enter so please do not attend.
- All visits are supervised, and observed at a distance sensitively, by colleagues to ensure compliance with infection prevention and control measures.
- Visitors must wash their hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser gel when entering and leaving.
- Visitors should avoid coming into contact with other residents or colleagues.
- Visitors may be asked to wear face masks, gloves and or aprons depending on the nature of your visit.
- Visitors will be given support on how to communicate if face coverings are required, for example, speaking loudly and clearly, keeping eye contact, not wearing hats or anything else that might conceal a face further.
- Social distancing (between visitors and residents, colleagues, and visitors from other households) must be maintained at all times – during the visit, and around the Home building and grounds. Skin to skin contact such as kisses, handshakes, or hugs, at this time sadly are not permitted.
- Seats will be provided 2 metres apart in a designated area and these must not be moved.
- Gifts should be left with colleagues and given to resident’s once they have been sanitised. Gifts must be placed in a plastic bag, any food items must be shop bought and in sealed packets.
- No opened food items should be brought back to the Home. Any foodstuffs brought back to the Home must be shop bought only and in the original packaging, unopened. The packaging will then be appropriately cleaned before being given to the resident.
- Visitors will not be able to use facilities such as coffee shops and toilets (unless for emergencies), to limit the spread of infection.
- Items being delivered to the Home by family and or friends for residents such as Christmas gifts and or decorations: please note that if the items are not in their original unopened packaging and/or are wrapped in decorative paper not easily cleaned and/or number more than 1-2 gifts, they will need to be left in an agreed drop off area with the Home (non-communal area) where they will remain for a 72 hour period before being cleaned and handed to the resident. Therefore, we would ask please that family, friends, and well-wishers, please try to deliver any Christmas gifts by the 21st December 2020, 72 hours ahead of Christmas Eve.
- If you have any queries, please contact the Home Manager.
- We will regularly review our guidance to Care Home Visiting, and anticipate there will be updated guidance for the end of lockdown on 2nd December 2020.
5th November 2020
Following on from the recent Government announcement to invoke a second national lockdown from 12.01am Thursday 5th November we continue to wait for greater clarity around DHSC’s revised position on care home visiting. However, we continue to remain open where possible to visitors.
The revised position announced via the Government website on the 4th November states.
• Visits should be tailored to residents and facilities and should prioritise residents and staff’s safety to limit the transmission of Covid-19
• Care homes, especially those who have not allowed visits since March, will be encouraged, and supported to provide safe visiting opportunities as new national restrictions come into effect
• Measures put in place should provide Covid-secure opportunities for families to meet using visiting arrangements such as floor to ceiling screens, visiting pods, and window visits
• All care home residents in England should be allowed to receive visits from their family and friends in a Covid-secure way – with social distancing and PPE – following new guidance to be used while national restrictions are in place from Thursday 5 November.
This forms the basis of what First Care Homes has been facilitating for many weeks now, offering options in line with Government guidance and Local Public Health bodies in England and we continue to do all that we can to ensure safe visits whilst actively protecting our residents, colleagues and visitors.
However we read with interest and welcome the Governments plans to further develop their guidance and support to allow specific family and friends to visit care homes supported by testing, along with a new national programme for weekly testing of professionals who regularly visit care homes, including community nurses and physiotherapists, due to be rolled out in the coming weeks. This would be very welcome progress and bring an extra layer of assurance for all of us who are keen to see residents loved ones back in our Homes and represents a further positive step towards a new normal.
Whilst we wait upon greater clarity that the promised updated guidance will hopefully bring, we want to assure you that robust and high quality, compassionate care and infection control remain at the heart of everything we do to protect our resident’s and colleagues so that we can support families to reunite in the safest way possible.
We continue to take guidance and instruction from Local Health Directors and their teams in line with all current Government directives and as new guidance becomes available, we will review fully, as we have done throughout the pandemic, and contact all residents and relatives with an update of what this will mean in relation to them and visiting one another.
We remain committed to welcoming relatives to our Homes to visit loved ones, wherever possible and will aim to provide an update should there be any significant change to the existing measures in place.
Thank you for your continued support and patience. We will provide you with further updates, should anything alter locally and or nationally.
Update 1st November 2020
We are continuing with all our visits as our current policy. It is expected that further guidance will be shared before the National lock down on Thursday 5th November when we will be able provide further updates.
Update 11h May 2020
I am very proud of all our dedicated teams who have worked tirelessly with compassion and care to maintain a normality in the homes and support the residents usual routines. This has been a challenge as we still remain closed to visitors including family members and friends. Which has meant a large chunk of normality is missing. We are, of course, fully aware of the potential for this to have an impact on our residents well being and all the teams are taking extra care to provide more support when required. This has involved more 1:1 time and/or more contact with families via the most suitable method, including phone or video calls. Please note if there is a situation that requires a non-routine visit such as end of life, the Home Manager will work with you to ensure that the appropriate precautionary measures are taken to limit any potential risk. We will still ensure that vital medical visits are made, and will be sure that only people who are not, along with their household, displaying symptoms come in, and that they wash their hands and have their temperature and oxygen saturations taken before entering the homes.
Our housekeeping teams continue to keep the homes spotlessly clean to reduce the risk of any viral contamination on hard surfaces. The team do not wear their uniforms to work and are changing in the home prior to commencing duty and then changing back into their outdoor clothes before they leave to go home.
Update 23 March 2020
Again, we would like to send our sincerest thank you to everyone for supporting the home through these current unprecedented times. We do not have much to update on this week as our plans are all in place and being implemented throughout the home. Our main priorities remain our residents wellbeing, team well being and availability, and of course supplies of everything.
The resident and relative communications appear to be settling in well and thank you for your patience as we work out how to make it as effective as possible. Myo (secure messaging) has been a success and just a reminder if this is something you would like please contact us as indicated on the website. Along with government advice we continue with no visiting.
We have been getting good support from our GP colleagues and the community services, so no concerns have been raised there and visits have occurred if required.
We were pleased to see the team qualified as key workers with regard to the school closures as we were concerned that this would impact on our team levels along with isolation. Therefore, to date we have been managing to keep the team numbers healthy and providing a full service, importantly well being and activities. Also, we were really pleased we can access the supermarket earlier opening times, as all helps us to keep focused on priorities.
We continue to have full stock levels but are aware of some things now going on back orders, so we are monitoring this closely. We have had advice from the NHS and Local Authorities where we can access additional supplies, in particular concerning PPE from their reserves. Our additional freezer space is now on site and full.
Protecting Residents and Colleagues
Please be assured that First Care Homes is treating this matter with the utmost seriousness and comprehensive contingency plans are in place in the event of a coronavirus outbreak at a home.
It is important to bear in mind that every year First Care Homes prepares to respond to infectious diseases, including a severe flu outbreak, and therefore, whilst this illness is new, it is very much business as usual for how we safeguard the health of our Residents and Colleagues.
In response to the growing UK coronavirus outbreak we are having regular conference calls between the home managers and the Managing Director to see how we can support each other and check all actions are going according to plans, and any concerns.
All our residents have en-suite rooms and can therefore elect to self-isolate in their rooms if they wish to and we are able to provide the essential contact if that is what they prefer.
We have understandably experienced a very high call volume to our homes over the last few days and there is a large number of people viewing this page looking for information. So, we would like to answer some of those key questions below.
Are you accepting new residents?
Firstly, we would like to assure you that we are not admitting anyone with positive test result for COVID-19, nor are we admitting anyone showing symptoms. Local Authorities and Hospitals are also working with providers of care to ensure this does not occur. There is clear discharge advise from the hospitals and Local Authorities to keep admitting to support the NHS as their beds are critical to support their response to the virus.
We have very robust and stringent clinical screening processes in place, to determine whether we will admit a new resident and have access to Public Health, Local Authorities and CCG’s on a case by case basis to identify how we can support people needing care without placing our existing residents and colleagues at risk as required.
We want to assure you that the safety and wellbeing of our residents and colleagues is always our top priority.
Do you have visiting restrictions for family members?
Yes, please see our latest updates for current information
Are there still activities going on?
Yes. Our residents are enjoying activities laid on by our in-house activities’ teams, baking, gardening, arts and crafts, singing, exercising and enjoying the fresh air in many of our landscaped gardens
What happens if a resident gets Coronavirus?
The health of our residents is our utmost priority and in addition to all normal clinical observations and practices we are well prepared to support a resident should they become unwell and or display any symptoms associated with Coronavirus.
We have access to medical professionals and are working with local health organisations, GPs and Hospitals, all following the same guidelines, to ensure the highest standard of care is provided to residents.
Should a resident become extremely unwell we follow all the guidelines and involve medical professionals. In the case of suspected COVID-19 this will mean the resident being admitted to hospital.
Following their departure, we have a number of protocols and processes in place that ensure all other residents and colleagues health and wellbeing.
For comprehensive information about the coronavirus itself, please visit either the Gov.uk or NHS websites.
Monday 16th March
As of today our No Visiting for a 2 week period begins.
We will update our website as and when changes occur. Please refer to this for general queries before you call the Home.
We have assessed and continue to assess the risks to our residents and to date this has fallen into 3 main areas. Delay, supplies and staffing.
DELAY– to manage the risk of our residents being exposed to the virus we have stopped routine visits. Non essential external visits have been cancelled and we will have only essential medical support. A room has been designated in the reception area for this to reduce the need of mobility around the Home, or the visit will take place in the residents room.
We fully appreciate the anxiety this can cause to residents and yourselves, not being able to see each other. To support this we have purchased 4 smart phones(one for each unit) for voice calls, skype/facetime and 1 I pad to support communications. These will be the responsibility of designated team members, as we do not want calls to go unanswered. We are also planning to liaise with families for setting times when best to call, so ideally all the communications are planned. For anything urgent continue to use the Home line.
A key part of the plan is supporting our residents wellbeing with our internal activity and resident communications with families by way of video calls. We have staff in house who are trained in nails and hairdressing which we will utilise during this period in the absence of external visitors.
SUPPLIES – this is the main areas, housekeeping/laundry, medical and food.
We have secured additional supplies so we will always have a 2 to 4 week buffer, so if ours supply route is unable to deliver we have time to procure from another source, of course this is a forever changing update and we are working with local authorities and the NHS for any guidance and support. Medical supplies have also been ordered as usual, we are unable to order prescriptions or continence supplies any earlier, but we have made sure our monthly orders have been submitted in good time. We have a good relationship with our pharmacy and are working together to get us both through this unknown period. Regarding food, we will be getting additional freezer space this week and receiving additional food supplies, so again we have a 4 week buffer.
Head Chef Shaun and his team are producing 4 week menus, as if the worse happens and we have no chef available, it could be prepared by other allocated Team members. I appreciate we will not be able to produce the food to the same choices as currently, but it will have nutritional value and be suitable for all our residents with specific dietary needs. of course the unknown is for how long. But this is our plan which can be implemented to reflect what stage we are regarding our team members. We are also training all of our heads of Departments and Senior Team on working all the appliances, so there is always someone on duty who can work the equipment.
TEAM – this is a significant concern as we could have sickness, self isolation and child care issues. We have risk assessed our Team with regards to dependants and medical conditions so we have a good understanding of what could happen. And plan our rotas, for example not having everyone on the same shift who have school age children. We have asked our team to start planning for if the3 schools were to close and asked if there is anything we can support them with as an employer. We are in the process of sorting local agencies if the worse was to happen and a significant number of staff within the team are off and are mapping an induction to the home for if this arises. I anticipate that if the need to use agency arises they will always be working alongside a member of the permanent team.
The GP surgery will continue to support the Home, as they are our main practice and do the weekly visits, using a dedicated room for consultations where applicable.
As always it is paramount we all continue to work together. The smart phone mobile number we will be sent out via a communication email from Sharon to all families, and please be assured we will continue to keep you all updated with ant changes and developments.
If you have any queries or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me via the main number or by my mobile.
Cambridgeshire Care Home Manager
Please note, due to the current Corona Virus situation we are sorry to inform you that the ‘time for tea & dementia unit opening day’ on the 31st March 2020 will be postponed until further notice.
We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused.
We will be touch in due course with a new date.
Please visit the Government website for more information: Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice