Update 11th May 2020
As we move into the eighth week of the UK Covid -19 lockdown, in addition to the home managers updates I wanted to provide you with a further update on the actions we have been taking, and continue to take, to reduce the risk of infection and spread within our care homes.
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.
We have applied the policy of social distancing throughout the care homes; this means that we are encouraging residents to stay in their rooms as much as possible to avoid mixing with others. We have also introduced no working/movement between the floors, and the kitchen and laundry stay in their departments too. This has meant our teams have had to introduce more innovative ways to keep residents connected with each other, and making sure we minimise the risk of social isolation. The recent lovely weather has meant that we have been able to support residents to enjoy the outdoors whilst maintaining the social distancing rule of 2-meters apart.
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.
We have meticulously planned to make sure we always have an adequate supply of PPE to keep all our team members and residents safe. We follow all the guidance as it is published and all the team members are wearing fluid repellent face masks as well as disposable aprons and gloves on all the communities regardless of whether there is any suspected Covid-19 on that community, or not. We also have visors to wear if there is an additional risk identified.
We continue to closely monitor the health of our team members and are ensuring that anyone who is displaying any symptoms of a Covid-19 infection are appropriately self-isolating at home and only return to work after a negative test/ are free from any symptoms. Team training continues on the correct use of PPE and infection control updates to ensure our team are fully supported with the current, up to date information.
I am pleased to report that, despite some team members self-isolating, we are maintaining normal team levels so that we can provide residents with the care and support they need during this worrying time and we have not had to use our contingency plan of agency staff.
I sincerely thank you for your support as we move through this Worldwide pandemic and please be reassured that all of the actions we have taken, and will take in the future, have reflected the most current guidance and advice published by the UK Government and Public Health (England). The health and welfare of residents, visitors and team is our number one priority and we will keep all stakeholders updated with further developments.
If you have any further questions about your loved ones care please do not hesitate to contact your Home Manager.
Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation.
Update 2 April 2020
Thank you all for your support at this time, and would like thank you all for all your kind emails, messages, cards and pictures that are being sent in.
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.
Updated 15 March 2020
Due to a change in circumstance, we are requesting no visitors to the home. The main door codes have been changed to support us to implement this action.
In response to the current outbreak of Coronavirus and advice received First Care Homes have also implemented the following:
• All visits from external entertainers, hairdressers and our manicurist have been postponed.
• Professional visitors will still be working in the home, we will have a dedicated room to reduce the need for professionals to be walking around the home.
These actions are being reviewed daily and also as new advice is provided.
CORONAVIRUS RELATIVE/VISITOR UPDATE – Sunday 15th March
As you may be aware we had to implement our no visiting protocol yesterday. This was due to a resident feeling unwell, so we followed 111 advice. I am pleased to say the resident is ok today. However, it highlighted to me how vulnerable we are at the home and reinforced that our decisions were right currently regarding stopping visits. Again, I would like to thank you all for your support with this.
We will be updating our website as and when changes occur. Please refer to this first before you call the home as it should answer any general queries.
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 this risk of our residents being exposed to the virus we have stopped routine visiting. Also, all non-essential external visits have been cancelled and we will only have 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 the residents and yourselves, not being able to see each other. To support this, we have purchased 3 more mobile phones (one for each floor) for verbal calls, 3 smart phones for Skype/Facetime and 2 I pads to support communications. These will be the responsibility of designated team members, as we do not want calls going un answered. We are also planning to liaise with families re setting times when best to call, so ideally all the communications are planned. Of course for anything urgent, the main home line can be used. We also anticipate by introducing this it will take the additional pressure off our reception team and care team answering calls.
A key part of our plan is supporting our residents well being and we have increased the well being teams capacity, so they can support relative communications and also provide additional support to our residents in the light of no visiting. We are still able to provide hairdressing and manicures as we have qualified team members who can complete this in the absence of external visitors.
We have also set up a process where any items can be left safely at reception, we will record what, who for and from whom, so we can safely pass on to your relative with any messages.
SUPPLIES – This is in 3 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 our 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 next week and receiving additional food supplies, so again we have a 4 week buffer. Darren, our amazing head chef, has also produced a 4 week menu, as if the worse was to happen and we do not have a chef available, it could be prepared by other allocated team members (apparently even I could do it!). I appreciate we will not be able to produce the food to the same choices as currently, but it will have full 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 numbers. We are also training all our heads of department and senior team on working all the appliances, so there is always someone on duty who can work the machines.
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 dependents and medical conditions so we have a good understanding of what could happen. And therefore, planning 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 the schools were to shut and asked if there is anything we can support them with as an employer. We are very proud that we have never had to use agency staff in the home, however, we have to be sensible and be prepared. So we are in the process of sorting agreements with local agencies if the worse was to happen and a significant number of our team are off. We are currently in the process of mapping and producing an agency induction. So they will be fully aware of the home’s processes and ways of working. I anticipate if we were to require agency they will always be working alongside our permanent team.
We will also start to work differently from tomorrow, and will have a core team on each floor to meet all the communities needs. The team will be nurses, care team, housekeeping, hospitality and well being. They will be supported by chef and kitchen team and one person in the laundry. This will support us managing sickness and capacity as the teams can work between them and support each other and the residents.
I have also had an update from Hawthorn Drive GP surgery, as they are our main practice. They have stopped all routine weekly visits and will focus on emergencies only. It is very likely we will use Skype for consultations if required firstly and actual visits will be limited, however I have been assured we will receive an emergency service. Social care has also requested we risk assess all the residents, however, pretty much everyone is in the higher risk category, hence why they are with us.
As always it is paramount we work together through this unprecedented period, and I am available if you have any queries or concerns. Please contact me via the main number or my e mail. Also if you have an ideas, thoughts or feedback of how we can improve on our plans please let me know.
You can download a copy of this Relative’s Advice Document 15-03-2020 by clicking here.
If you would like to get in contact with a Resident, please click here to find out how to get in contact with them.
Please visit the Government website for more information: Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice