It is difficult to avoid the news at the moment, although it is not very cheerful, so we are sure that you are all aware that we are likely to remain in Tier 5 (or ‘lockdown’) for some time. Nationally the figures for infections and deaths make it clear that the situation is more serious than in the first wave in the spring last year, and locally we are experiencing much more pressure on health services than we did then.
Overall at the Home of Comfort we are so far relatively unscathed, with some staff absence where people need to isolate due to a household member being positive but nothing we are not able to safely manage. However we are very aware that most residential settings in the city are currently managing outbreaks and so we are continuing our stringent infection prevention and control efforts.
We are delighted that all of our current residents and many of our staff have been vaccinated as this is the best long term way to ensure we are all protected, and we know that the vaccine significantly reduces the chances of becoming seriously ill even after a single dose. However, we do not know how well it prevents people who have had it being infected, or spreading that infection to others, and clearly we will only see relaxation of the rules on distancing, isolation, testing and IPC measures once we can all be very sure that this can be done safely.
Care homes in Portsmouth are being kept up to date by a dedicated team at the CCG and we are connected to local and national initiatives through the Hampshire Care Association. We are given a weekly briefing by our Director of Public Health, and I will one of the Q&As from this weeks newsletter below.
We remain anxious to see you all again as soon as possible and will keep the situation under review, but I am afraid we do not expect to be able to open for visits again until at least the peak of infection and load at QA has passed.
We hope you are all keeping safe and well, and as always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.
Wish best wishes to you all,
From all of us at the Home of Comfort.
Q. Can face to face indoor/close visiting restart if all my residents have had a COVID-19 vaccine?
A. No, not at present for a number of reasons. 1. The population prevalence of COVID-19 remains very high and we are currently in lockdown. All close or indoor visiting is currently prohibited until the prevalence of COVID-19 reduces. 2. No vaccine is 100% effective so some residents who have been vaccinated may not generate antibodies and immunity and, therefore, will not be protected. 3. Even if residents have been vaccinated, it may be possible for a person to bring COVID-19 into the home and for it to spread (although the risk to residents may be reduced).
Links if you would like to read further:
JCVI Priority Groups Vaccination guidance
New Scientist explainer on vaccines (which includes a neat little video on vaccines in general)
National Winter Plan for Adult Social Care
Care Home Visiting Guidance
Home of Comfort’s Current Visiting Policy
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And our past newsletters are here