Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

03 August 2020 News

Updated 3rd August  - a letter from Hayden Knight, Orchard Care Homes CEO


Such is the evolving nature of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic that no sooner had my previous letter been posted to you, the information that we were working with changed. The local lockdown enforced in Leicester was coupled with the announcement of 36 ‘at-risk’ areas that could also be on the verge of a local lockdown. Indeed, the announcement late on 30th July that areas of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire are now under new lockdown measures clearly illustrates the real possibility that a local lockdown could affect our homes.

We have also seen coverage in the media of mass gatherings taking place in line with the hospitality industry reopening. It is clear that even with easing of lockdown measures, the level of risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission and therefore risk to our residents is still high. It is because of this changing landscape and the fluidity of the situation that we must continually assess our processes and what pace is sensible to ease our own restrictions.

Like you, we’re keen to regain a sense of normality as soon as possible. However, that cannot come at the expense of the wellbeing of our residents. We therefore welcome the official guidance on care home visits that was released by the government on 22nd July as a way to move forward.

As noted in the guidance, it is clearly not the case that care home operators are now able to remove the protocols that have kept our residents and colleagues safe for all of these weeks.

When considering the factors we must satisfy before we can allow visitors back into our homes, there are a number of elements that are within our control. The government guidance is thankfully largely in line with the processes that we have in place and the preparations that we have been making, especially around dynamic risk assessments, with updated processes written and the required items to allow outdoor visits due for delivery next week.

Coupled with this though are the elements outside of our control. This includes local outbreaks and mandatory recommendations from the Director of Public Health in every area that visits can commence.

The most important factor beyond our control is the availability of testing kits, the speed at which they are processed and the way results are returned. The government guidance stipulates that weekly testing of staff and monthly testing of residents is required. At this point we have not been provided with enough test kits, either through the government or otherwise, to satisfy this requirement.

All of the above factors must be met in order for visits to be possible. When we are able to, we will reopen to visitors in a sensible and controlled way, however not before this is the case. Once that is achieved, visits will be managed regionally working to a wider company policy, be on an appointment-only basis, and led by each Home Manager with support from our Operational Directors.

As availability of visits must be on a home-by-home basis, your Home Manager will be contacting you to advise of their specific situation and how visits will be facilitated at the appropriate time.

If you have any questions about our plans to manage coronavirus, you can email us

Thank you once again for all of your support, understanding and patience while we all deal with this difficult situation.


Useful websites


Q1: How can I use technology to speak to my loved one?

Our homes are now using both Skype and Messenger to ensure residents are able to keep in touch with loved ones, please contact the relevant home to find out what options they have availableOur Facebook pages are also a great way to see what activities our homes are running and for keeping up-to-date on everything your loved ones are doing

Q2: How are you preventing people who may have the virus from entering the homes?

We have tightened our admissions policy and process during this time to require that all potential residents complete a health screening process to mitigate against anybody bringing the virus into the home. Furthermore, newly admitted residents immediately undergo a period of self isolation in their room for the government guided duration at that time to allow for the incubation period to pass and any symptoms to appear before the new resident is allowed into the wider care home setting.

Q3: How are you ensuring you have enough staff to care for the residents?

The work of all our staff is critical to the coronavirus response and therefore all of our colleagues are granted the Key Worker status. This ensures that we can maintain our staffing levels, as those with children are prioritised for education provision. Our recruitment campaigns have been live for a number of weeks and we are successfully fast-tracking new appointments through the Adult First DBS process where required to make sure that we can maintain the wellbeing and safety of our residents in the event of any member of staff needing to self-isolate.

Q4: How are you managing your suppliers to ensure you have adequate amounts of all essential items, such as PPE, medicine and food and drink?

We are working closely with all of our suppliers daily to maintain our levels of all essential items and, where required, are quickly establishing relationships with new suppliers that can support our needs during this time. As covered in the media some PPE items are in short supply however at this moment, whilst stocks are restricted, we are not experiencing significant shortages.

I do hope that this answers some of your immediate questions and concerns and that you are reassured by the steps we are taking to protect the wellbeing of our residents and staff.

I fully appreciate that you may feel frustrated that you are unable to support your loved ones while visitor restrictions are in place. One way that you can help our staff continue to deliver the best possible care for our residents is to nominate one family member to contact the home for updates, rather than several members of the family doing so. This will reduce the pressure that staff are currently under and make more of their time available to care for our residents.


We have dedicated Activities Co-ordinators in our homes and all staff are going above and beyond to ensure our residents continue to enjoy themselves and take part in engaging activities. Our activities packs are full of fun games and activities for both in the home or in the garden to keep everyone laughing, smiling and healthy.

Staffing and recruitment

With many people all around the country finding their work situation changing, we're delighted to be able to offer long-term and short-term opportunities to join us. You don't even need any prior care home experience, just a passion to make a difference to the lives of the older people in your community - we'll provide the rest! Find out more about the roles available and how to apply here:

If you have any questions about our plans to manage coronavirus, you can email us

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