Helping to keep people safe during a global pandemic

We've been carefully following government guidance, alongside our own Covid-19 infection control procedures, to do everything we can to help keep residents and our staff safe throughout this global pandemic, while making life as normal as possible in our homes - and this continues to be our focus.

As we're caring for some of the most vulnerable people in society, it's even more vital that we carry on with all of the necessary precautions for the safety of everyone living in or working at our homes, in the absence of a vaccine or a cure. 

We continue to follow all necessary government and local authority guidance, and have had a number of precautionary social distancing and additional infection control measures in place in our homes for some time to help reduce the risk of illness. 

We’ve paused group activities and bus trips, ensured staff only work in our care home to reduce the risk of cross-infection, and had full access to PPE throughout with adequate stock going forward through our own established supply chain and access to national stock, among our other stringent policies and procedures.

In addition, we continue to have access to regular testing for everyone, and take precautionary temperatures of our staff and residents every day. 

We’re still admitting new residents who might otherwise be cut-off from their families and communities because of lockdown.

Anyone moving into our homes (or returning from hospital) is tested during a precautionary isolation period from other residents.

Although we’ve paused our usual approach to activities, bus outings and entertainment, residents and staff are coming up with creative ways to ensure daily life continues as much as possible.

There are still plenty of opportunities for people to enjoy their hobbies including arts and crafts, games, puzzles, reading and music. The local community has helped us create busy boxes full of fun bits and pieces for residents to use, and we’ve received hundreds of letters, pictures and messages of support, as well as donations of sweets, chocolate and other goodies, which are very much appreciated by all.

At some of our homes, residents and staff have been celebrating their love for music by holding a daily dance or two, which is a great opportunity to share some fun and laughter - you’ll see some examples on our Facebook page.

We’ve also been working with entertainers to find new ways to ensure the show goes on – from kerb-side saxophone players to performances from the garden, while residents enjoy a sing-a-long from their rooms.

 

Visiting arrangements
While visits inside the care home are still not permitted, you’ll probably have heard in the last few days that the government is allowing ‘safe visits’ to continue at care homes during the new national restrictions. These can include window visits, floor-to-ceiling screens and visiting pods. 

We introduced safe window and socially-distanced garden visits across the summer because we recognised how important it is for the health and wellbeing of residents and relatives. These can continue under the new guidance, although are somewhat reliant on the weather (and additional restrictions apply).

 

 

 

 

Visiting rooms and pods
However, ahead of the winter, we had already been developing new Covid-secure visiting pods and visiting rooms that allow loved ones to meet safely come rain or shine, without having to go through the home or being outside in the elements. 

We’re delighted that the government is encouraging the use of these facilities for relatives and residents to meet in a safe way. 

Pre-booked in advance, our visiting rooms and pods include floor-to-ceiling windows, alongside other stringent infection control measures, that allow you to safely get ‘close’ to loved ones. Before and after each visit, our visiting rooms and pods are also thoroughly cleaned and sanitised to reduce the risk of infection.  

New visiting rooms are already available at Attleborough Grange (via the front entrance), Dewar Close (side entrance to Buddies Bungalow), Drayton Court (rear lounge), Fairfield (Fairfield Cottage), Mill Green (front conservatory), Westlands (side office) and Woodside Care Village (front bedroom).

Work continues to develop a new visiting room at Newlands, which will be available soon.

Specially constructed visiting pods - accessed via the garden - are being installed at Four Ways, The Limes, Sycamores and Drovers House, where temporary arrangements are already in place. 

We’re making great progress with our pods and work will continue over the coming days as we build paths, lay carpet and add some finishing touches – but as soon as they’re watertight, we’ll start to use them.

Other ways to stay in touch
If you’re unable to visit in person for whatever reason, pre-booked video conferencing or phone calls remain available for relatives and are one of the most popular ways for people to stay in touch with loved ones. 

And our Relatives Gateway provides 24/7 access to your loved one’s care notes (with appropriate consent), wherever you are with an internet connection. You can share messages and photos with each other, and also ask us a question about their care. 

Visiting over the festive season
And as the festive season approaches, we’re working hard to make it ‘Christmas every day’ in our visiting rooms and pods throughout December, helping you and your loved ones celebrate this special time of year safely. You can find out more and book a visiting slot with your Home Manager.

We are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe and you can help too. The Government has published some useful advice about what you can and can’t do during the current national restrictions, which will help reduce the risks of illness for you and your loved ones: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

However, if you’re unwell, have tested positive for Covid-19 and/or have symptoms (or have been in contact with someone who has in the last 14 days), or have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Track and Trace, please do not come to the home and let us know - we will re-arrange your visit for another day.

Essential visitors
We've introduced a new infection control process for welcoming essential visitors to our homes. All essential visitors must agree to the following statements before proceeding inside the home:

  • My visit is essential and I am either a member of staff, a volunteer or other essential visitor e.g. health professional or urgent contractor
  • I do not have Coronavirus symptoms, nor have I been in contact with anyone who has in the last 14 days
  • I do not have symptoms (even mild) or a cold, flu or respiratory illness
  • I will wash and sanitise my hands on entry/exit and will follow all hand-washing/infection control guidance
  • I will have my temperature checked and recorded when signing in, witnessed by a member of staff (you will not be permitted into the home with a temperature of 37.8 degrees celsius and will need to be re-checked if between 37.4 degrees celsius and 37.7 degrees celsius) 

While we don’t know what the future looks like with the global pandemic, we’re doing everything we can to be as ready as we can be for whatever is round the corner.

We’re investing in new technology such as automatic sanitising gates, portable fogging machines and airport-style infrared temperature scanners to help reduce the risk of bringing illness into the home.

What is in the spray that is used in the automatic sanitising gates?
The gates use a natural antiseptic and antibacterial solution that kills 99.99% of bacteria and viruses. It's made of a salt and water mix that is put through a process called electrolysis to produce a hypochlorous solution. This is naturally produced by white blood cells of all mammals, playing an important role in immune systems.