Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

04 June 2020 News

Updated 4th June  - a letter from Hayden Knight, Orchard Care Homes CEO

 

As you will no doubt have seen, the government have recently announced that some lockdown measures related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak are starting to be eased. After more than two months of restrictions, this is a move that we are encouraged by with measured optimism. I, therefore, wanted to let you know how these moves will impact the processes and restrictions that we currently have in place in our homes.

I mentioned in my previous update that in order to remove visitor restrictions we would need to be at Level Two within the government’s coronavirus alert levels, of which there are five levels. Until recently we have been operating at Level Four and the upcoming government restriction easings, whereby non-essential retailers can start reopening in England from 15 June if they have social distancing measures established, will move us towards Level Three.

With this in mind, our existing processes and restrictions for visitors will remain in place for now. This is a decision in line with the stance taken by many other care home groups. It is due to the processes we have established that, with your support, have enabled us to look after all of our residents and staff to the best of our abilities so far. Relaxing these measures too quickly could inadvertently result in all of our collective hard work and sacrifices being undone and setting our recovery back, something we are all keen to avoid.

This decision is also made based on the daily number of cases still being high and that we have seen that during this pandemic the impact to care homes has typically tracked three weeks behind the rest of the country. There are other considerations too that opening the homes to visitors would bring, such as wanting to provide visitors with PPE so that they are protected, the added resource need to manage social distanced visits and the extra cleaning and disinfecting that would be required, for example. All of these additional steps would be resource heavy and increase the pressure on colleagues, which is something we are reluctant to do considering everything they are already doing to make sure that all of our residents’ safety and wellbeing is cared for.

Our Coronavirus Committee will continue to monitor all developments and, unless there is a major shift across the country beforehand, will be reviewing our position on visits again in the week commencing 22 June.

I’m pleased to say that we have had some positive weeks recently. Testing kits have started to arrive at our homes and it is great to see so many of those tests and the entirety of some homes returning negative results. These results mean we are now able to start relaxing some of our social distancing measures, specifically distancing within rooms. This will go a long way to easing any feelings of isolation while maintaining safe distancing protocols.

The negative results also make it easier for residents to have increased light physical exercise and movement around the home in line with their individual care plans. Our approach to facilitating this will be similar to those taking place in schools, with small groups of residents enjoying activities one at a time and rotating time outdoors. Our PPE usage will stay the same and we’ll supplement this with environment-appropriate signage to support the interaction protocols while residents move around the home.

We’re equally delighted that we have been able to support specific, short visits to homes around special events, such as birthdays. While we cannot facilitate visits on a mass scale for every resident, requests for socially distanced special events will be considered on a case-by-case basis by Home Managers.

Please do continue to take advantage of the technology available in our homes to stay in touch with your loved ones. I know your home teams have been supporting the video calls in line with their daily routines and it is great that we have these options available to help keep relationships with loved ones strong during this challenging time.

If you have any questions about our plans to manage coronavirus, you can email us covid19support@orchardcarehomes.com.

I remain ever grateful for your continued support and understanding while we all work through this difficult and unsettling time.

Useful websites

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

FAQ

Q1: Can I visit my loved one during this time?

We know this is an uncertain and worrying time for everyone, however to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our residents and staff all of our homes remain closed to all non-essential visitors until further notice. However we are able to support specific, socially distanced short visits to homes around special events, such as birthdays. These requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis by Home Managers.

Q2: 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

Q3: 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.

Q4: 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.

Q5: 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.

Activities

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: https://orchardcarehomes.com/news/immediate-job-opportunities-at-orchard-care-homes

If you have any questions about our plans to manage coronavirus, you can email us covid19support@orchardcarehomes.com.

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