Having had the heatwave, we are now 10 degrees cooler, but the garden does need the rain and some respite. That said, for the first half of June we have been making the most of the wonderful weather. James and Kieran have both visited a couple of times for our afternoon music sessions. They are both very good musicians, so between them we have piano, guitar, banjo (or is it a ukulele?) and a real variety of songs – old and new. As they are both so well known to the residents, there is a lot of banter back and forth as well, which is great to hear.

Of course, if we have sun, we have to have ice creams, so choc ices and ice lollies have been enjoyed, together with the odd glass of Pimms. The front garden and patios at The Priory make a perfect location for a summer’s afternoon. Dominoes and shandy was another lovely pastime.

Our games and quizzes continue as usual, sometimes indoors, sometimes out. And The Priory couldn’t be without chocolate, so early last week we had to – yes HAD TO! – celebrate National Rocky Road day. You like me will be saying, “National Rocky Road day?”. I too, had never heard of it, but why not and a great excuse to share with friends in the garden.

As lockdown releases – more on that later – we are looking to bring more activities back into the home. We will be talking with all of our residents at our first Residents’ Meeting in early July to understand what they would like us to organise, but especially for our newer residents, it would be great if families could let us know if they have any individual thoughts or ideas?

A couple of weeks ago, I sent out an Interim Quality Questionnaire, which was earlier than we had planned. Thank you to everyone who has responded to this. We would like to give everyone a chance to give us their thoughts. There are hard copies available in The Priory if you would like one, or please use or print the electronic versions already sent.

We sent the QA out as we were told of a CQC (Care Quality Commission) inspection. This has taken place over the last week, with inspector visits, chats and phone calls with residents and staff, phone calls with families and reports from professionals who support us. As with all inspections in all industries, this is an emotional and exhausting process, especially for Lynne. We think and hope we have everything in place, but there is always that niggling worry you have missed something. The inspector finished with visits and calls yesterday and so now she will be ploughing through the copious documents and reports we have submitted. The report will probably take 2-4 weeks to go through the system, but as soon as we have any details, we will share them with you

I said we would give you more on lockdown releases. You will have heard that the Government is relaxing the rules on resident isolation after outside visits, which will be very welcome. There will still be some circumstances where isolation is required, but in the main it should be removed for most visits. You will also have heard that vaccinations may become mandatory for all care home staff. There was a consultation that we responded to and we agreed that they should but it should be the same for all health staff who work with our residents. As an example, our staff are all tested with 1 x PCR and 2 x LFT test each week, and they only work at The Priory. However, GP’s, District Nurses and other visiting professionals who visit many homes, are not mandated to be vaccinated and only require 1 or 2 LFT tests per week. I am all for a level playing field, so we will see what comes out. Once we have the final guidance on these points, we will update you.

On that point, all of our care staff are fully vaccinated which is good to know.

Finally, a quick reminder on visiting. Please bring details of your personal LFT test with you for your visit – this is speeding up the whole process for everyone. All visits, whether they are indoors or outdoors needed to be booked with The Priory before you arrive. All visits are 40 minutes, whether indoors or outside. This is to allow fair access for all families (now you can have up to 5 named visitors) and to allow staff to clean down the areas before the next visit. Social distancing is still required both inside and out and that may continue for care homes beyond 19th July

Let’s enjoy the cooler days for a while – have a wonderful rest of June.