Orchard’s view on government “14-day isolation” guidance

01 May 2021 News

Orchard Care Homes, a leading provider of senior living in the UK, with care homes in the North of England and the Midlands, has decided not to enforce the ‘14 days isolation’ rule for residents that leave the home for short trips out.

The organisation, who have a large portfolio of care homes, has taken the decision not to follow government guidelines, which advises that residents would need to self-isolate on return for 14 days, as they are confident the new visitor policy covering visits outside the home takes into consideration all risks.

In the new outward visits policy, the company states that these should only happen in agreement with the home and are subject to robust individual risk assessments detailing where the resident is intending to visit, whole-home risk assessments and Mental Capacity Act principles and best interests, where the resident does not have capacity. 

Both the resident and their visitor must have LFD testing before departure on the day of the visit. The resident will then need to have a PCR test on re-entering the care home and self-isolate until a negative result is returned, which could be as quick as just 24-hours. The resident will only continue to self-isolate if a positive result is returned.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, commented “Forcing residents to isolate for 14 days when they have been out for short trips is causing  enormous distress to residents and is unnecessary given the level of vaccination and infection control that is practised by care homes. In making the decision not to follow this guidance Orchard has acted in the best interest of their residents and I know they would never compromise safety in anything that they do.”

Orchard recognises that visiting is a central part of care home life. It is crucially important for maintaining the health, wellbeing, and quality of life of residents. Visiting is also vital for family and friends to maintain contact and life-long relationships with their loved ones and contribute to their support and care.

As of the 12th of April 2021, every care home resident was able to nominate two named visitors who could enter the care home for regular visits. These visitors should be tested using rapid lateral flow tests before every visit, must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow all other infection control measures during visits. Children under two will not be counted in these visiting numbers and are now able to visit residents, however it is important that they remain with their family and are not accessing all areas of the home, this is important to limit risk of virus transmission.

Cheryl Baird, Director of Quality and Care at Orchard Care Homes, said “We have taken onboard feedback we are hearing from residents and the wider community, and have adapted our policy on outward visits ahead of the government guidance and more in line with the behaviours and regimes that people not living in a care home are expected to follow. We feel the testing approach available to us of ‘LFD out, PCR in’ measures the amount of risk – especially with 85% of residents having had both doses of the vaccine (95% have had first dose).

“We are confident that our new visitor policy takes into account the risks involved in outside visits and provides the correct procedures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the residents and staff. We are keen to maximise the amount of meaningful contact relatives can have with their loved ones and we know how important this is to their daily lives.”