You will be aware that coronavirus continues to decrease within all communities, albeit with some localised outbreaks.
Our residents, some of whom are still shielding, remain very vulnerable and we must continue to have strict rules in place for all visitors to our homes to reduce the risk of a new outbreak occurring in the coming weeks and months.
We have received some local guidance from Infection Control and local government on how to re-introduce visiting which is summarised below. We have also created this guide to outline the steps we have taken to protect our residents and visitors during these challenging times.
Other associated government guidance into whole home testing programme has also been reviewed and as of 13th July 2020, a four-week rolling testing programme will be in place for all of our homes. Once tests have been received in each home on week 1 all staff and residents will be tested over the week. On week 2-4 all staff will be tested each week. This will include bank staff, internal and external agency staff who may work in the homes. This was temporarily suspended but has now been reintroduced with different testing kits.
We want to ensure that you and your loved are able to enjoy the visit whilst keeping safe and respecting people’s wishes. Please read the following guidance carefully before visiting:
- Each home has a risk assessment in place in order to facilitate visits for a nominated family member, visiting professionals, and essential personnel into the home.
- All visits with family members will take place in an outdoor space, preferably in a garden area. A gazebo and washable garden furniture will be available for you to sit at along with and a wipeable table enabling you to achieve safe social distancing.
- Visits will be pre-booked one week in advance with the Home by telephone or by email to the homes’ main contact number or email. Only one visit is allowed each week to give the opportunity for all residents to enjoy a visit with their family. No ad-hoc visits will be sanctioned.
- Government guidance is advising that only one visitor is allocated to each person and this person should then be the only visitor to attend on a weekly basis.
- Visiting times and days will be home specific and you will be advised by the Home where your relative lives of the slots available.
- Your visit will be for a maximum of 30 minutes in total with your relative, but we have allowed extra time for you to complete your heath check risk assessment and other safety measures. We also need to sanitise the visiting area in between each visit.
- You will be required to have your temperature taken and recorded, a health questionnaire to be completed before your visit and retained in the home. This process will be undertaken on each visit.
- You must wash or sanitise your hands before the start of your visit. The process must be repeated as you exit the home.
- One visitor per visit from the same household or one visitor per visit for those individuals who are being shielded.
- No children under the age of 16 are permitted to visit at this time.
- No pets are allowed unless it is a service animal such as a guide or hearing dog.
- You will be required to wear a mask/face covering throughout your visit, please bring one with you if you have one, or we will supply you with one on the day.
- If you are late for your allotted slot unfortunately, we cannot extend your visit.
- You must not visit if you have been contacted by test and trace to advise that you have been in contact with an individual who has tested positive for covid-19 and need to isolate.
- You must not visit if you have been advised to isolate in the last 10 days due to symptoms or a positive test.
- Visits must be maintained at the accepted social distance of 2m.
- Our toilet facilities will not be available during your visit however we will be considerate to visitors with certain medical conditions or if visitors have travelled a long distance from the Home.
- We are not able to serve refreshments to you, but you may bring something light refreshments with you to drink but these must not be given to your family member.
- You may wish to bring toiletries for your relative, but these must be placed into a plastic bag, left with care staff who will sanitise the items before going into the building. Flowers will not be accepted at this time.
- Where residents are bed bound and where possible a window visit can take place, once the visit ends the window must be disinfected on both sides immediately
- Where residents are bed bound and a window visit is not possible a visit can be arranged directly with the manager with an individual risk assessment put into place. Full PPE would need to be worn at all times and this visit would be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.
- We encourage all visitors not to use public transport to travel to the Home. Government guidance encourages people to walk or cycle to the Home.
- We reserve the right to stop any visits where visitors are not adhering to safe practice. We must also make you aware that your visit will be suspended immediately if residents become symptomatic or have a confirmed positive test result.
- Should the Home have a confirmed outbreak we will notify you accordingly. This will mean that visiting to the Home will be suspended for a minimum of 14 days maximum of 28 days from the date of the outbreak and residents or staff are symptom free.
- We will retain our current visiting procedure for relatives who wish to be with their loved one towards their end of life. This will be organized directly with the Home or Deputy Manager.
What might the first visit be like?
When you visit your relative again it may look and feel different from before. All visits with family members will take place in an open space, preferably in a garden area. A gazebo and washable garden furniture will be available for you to sit at along with and a wipeable table enabling you to achieve safe social distancing. You will be required to wear a facial covering.
If your relative does not recognise you straight away, try not to worry and give them time to remember. It may take more than the initial meeting for those memories to be reconnected.
Social distancing is important at least 2 meters apart it may be necessary to remove your face covering initially until your relative recognises you, this should then be put back on. A visor could be used as an alternative if necessary.
If your relative has dementia and it has worsened, you may need to adopt different approaches and communication techniques. Your relative may need longer to respond or need more help to do things. But maintaining that relationship is just as important now as it was before the pandemic. Staff will be on hand to provide support.
For many people, the worry of a relative no longer recognising you can be overwhelming. But it is important to stress that despite the time spent apart many people, living with dementia will remember their relatives. However, some people may struggle at first.
What if my relative wants to make physical contact?
One of the hardest aspects of the COVID-19 situation is the need for physical distancing between those of different households, including family members. Not everyone will understand the need to maintain a physical distance and may want to greet you with some sort of physical contact. This response is understandable after not seeing each other for a long time.
A gentle reminder from yourself or a staff member may be all that is required. We realise this is also difficult for you; however, we would ask you not to initiate physical contact.
Residents are used to seeing staff in masks so are unlikely to be scared of you wearing one. It does, however, make communication a more of a challenge:
- Speak in a loud clear voice
- Use the tone of your voice and body language to convey meaning.
- Use eye contact, we smile with our eyes – we have found that many residents know when we are smiling when we have masks on. Raising eyebrows or waving your hand so people know you are talking to them.
- Wear clothing and hairstyles that maybe familiar to your loved one.
- Talk about topics, memories and people that are familiar to you both. This will help you both to get used to the challenges of communicating whilst wearing a mask and being distanced.
- Go with the flow: let minor misunderstandings go uncorrected if the meaning is intact: for example if you are telling a funny story about a friend named Kate and the resident mis hears it as Claire it might be best to not correct that and let the conversation flow if the meaning of the story is not changed.
- Make sure you properly hydrate before the visit as masks can make you feel dehydrated.
- Although the rules and setting might seem formal, we hope that you will soon get used to the unusual circumstances.
- Enjoy your visit, we will support you to make your visit a positive one.