The Government have finally updated their policy for visiting arrangements. Outlined below are the core elements of the policy and details on how we will implement those.
Visits and the policies and procedures associated with them are to be based on dynamic risk assessment to minimise risk wherever possible. In essence, dynamic risk assessment means that we need to take account of the following;
- Circumstances of the individual home
- Continued negative results from weekly testing for staff & monthly testing for residents
- Local circumstances – ie local risks and outbreaks as directed by Public Health
- Ability to maintain consistent infection control
- Adherence by visitors to the visiting guidelines
- Retain the ability to temporarily suspend or restrict visits should the assessment change
- To be able to refuse entry to a visitor if the Home’s policy is not adhered to.
The advice given in the latest Update does, for the first time, take heed of the benefits to a resident’s wellbeing of visits and the potential impact or even harm that may be caused by the lack of familial contact. We concur fully with these statements and we have seen the positive benefits to both residents and families of visits.
Going forward, we will require all visits to use the following procedures;
- Visits must be booked in advance and confirmed by a member of staff who will document the name, date and time of the visit. We ask that visitors adhere to the time slots as out of time visits or ad-hoc visits will be refused. We will retain a record of all visits to support NHS Track & Trace should an outbreak occur.
- By visiting, all visitors are confirming that they are free of any COVID-19 symptoms on the day of their visit – fever/temperature, new or persistent cough, and/or loss of sense of taste or smell. Also, that they have not had recent contact (last 14 days) with anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed diagnosis.
- All visitors’ temperatures will be taken upon arrival via non-touch thermometers.
- Visits will always be for a maximum period of 40 minutes so that the area can be cleaned and to avoid crossover of visitors. For our more vulnerable residents, this will be reduced to 30 minutes – see 10 below.
- Hands must be washed for 20 seconds or hand sanitiser used both on entering and leaving the home. Coughs or sneezes must be caught in tissues and hands cleaned after disposal of the tissues.
- Face coverings should be worn at all times.
- Please do not bring in any gifts, flowers etc.
- Visitor numbers will need to be controlled. Initially, each resident will be able to receive a maximum of 2 visits per week, to allow all residents and their families to enjoy their family time.
- The Government has requested that visits be limited to a single constant visitor, wherever possible. This is to reduce the number of visitors and the consequent risk of infection. We understand that this may be difficult with larger families and so we will ask that a constant visitor is chosen for a 2 week period and then that constant visitor can be changed to a new family member.
- For more vulnerable residents, the Home will develop an individual visiting plan that will be agreed with the resident where possible and with the family or supporters.
The Government has advised that phone calls and video calls are used as the main form of communication between residents and families. We have also suggested that letters, postcards and video clips can be used as alternatives or better still, additional forms of communication.
If visits do take place, garden or window visits are the preferred medium as they will allow social distancing and fresh air to reduce the potential impact of contagion. The distancing required is 2m. Hand cleaning and mask wearing is essential.
Indoor visits will take place in the new lounge. The procedures detailed above will still apply in all cases, but for such visits, after arrival, hand washing/sanitising and PPE donning etc, visitors will be asked to walk straight to the lounge. Once the visit is complete, we ask that you leave the home directly. If conversations with the Home Manager or other staff are required, we ask that these are done by telephone.
Within the lounge, we ask that you maintain a minimum of 2m distance and stay behind the clear screen at all times. Please continue to avoid personal interaction ie hugs, handshakes etc. Any touch points and the clear screen will be sanitised after the visit.
Regrettably, our usual hospitality of teas and coffees and of course, our outings and family events at the home have all been curtailed. As a “family” home, we are very disappointed that we have had to suspend these valuable and above all enjoyable social gatherings – fingers crossed for the future.
In advance, as always, thank you for your understanding during these very difficult times – we hope to see you soon.