Latest News from Home of Comfort
When the national lockdown ends next week, we now know that England will revert back to a ‘tiered’ system of restrictions to suppress the coronavirus. We have been informed new rules will be issued on care home visits as part of these new tiers, and so we again will need to review our visiting policy once we have that guidance.
We are also expecting to hear shortly how the new testing system for staff and residents will work, and hopefully within the next few weeks about vaccination and testing for visitors, and we must ask for your patience as this will mean a lot of information and change for us to process in a short time – most likely over Christmas, which is a busy time for everyone anyway.
As always our priorities will be the safety and wellbeing of our residents, and we will do everything we can to keep visiting going, but we must understand the new rules, and our local guidance, and that may take us some time.
For now we expect to continue with our current routines, which are more restrictive than we would like but are in line with the current guidance. You may be interested in a letter which our Director of Public Health has asked us to pass on to you. This sets out the framework that we are being required to work within, and we hope it explains why we are taking some of the measures that we are, for example why we have introduced a screen (as we believe outside visiting is not practical at the moment).
Both Helen and Innes, who have signed the letter, and their teams, have been very helpful and supportive to homes in the city and are working hard to help us to make visits possible within the national rules. We are grateful to you all for helping us to ensure our practice is within those rules, which you can do by making sure that you:
- Telephone us in advance if you have any concerns or questions, or if your appointment time is not convenient for you,
- Wear the PPE that you are asked, in particular a mask at all times during your visit, as the rules are very clear on this point,
- Make use of the screen by making sure you and the resident are opposite each other with the screen between you,
- Finish your appointment on time so that we can be ready for the next visitor, and
- Discuss any problems with the Nurse in Charge or with Leena or Deepa. We do welcome your feedback on visiting or on any issue.
We understand that the conditions set out in the guidance might cause problems for some residents, for example those who do not hear so well. However, it is very important that we are able to show that any changes to this normal practice have been documented in the resident’s care plan, including the reasons for those changes, and have been agreed in advance; we are expected to get approval for variations with the DPH (through our local CCG care home support team).
We realise that the situation is very frustrating for everyone, including all of you, and we ask you to support us in this not only to make sure that we are complying with the regulations but also that we can best keep all of our residents safe.
In particular, if there is a problem, we would like to ask you to discuss it with the nurse, Deepa or Leena. Please do not simply take your mask off or move your chair, as we would then be expected to end the visit immediately. If there is any suggestion that visits at Home of Comfort are taking place which are not in line with best practice, we risk not being allowed to carry on with visits for anybody.
We understand everyone is tired and frustrated with the situation, but we have had some incidents where people have vented their frustration at our care staff, and we are afraid this cannot be acceptable. We are all also fed up and would love to get back to normal visiting arrangements, but the Home cannot tolerate staff who are simply doing their best to do their jobs bearing the brunt of frustration at the rules.
To the best of our understanding the current routine will continue into the new year, and visits over Christmas will be by the usual appointment system. While we are delighted that pilot schemes are up and running for several types of test for visitors, we hear from homes involved in these schemes that there are a number of details to be worked through, and that there are a number of questions the Home would need to resolve in order to implement one. While it is encouraging that the government is suggesting tests for visitors may be taking place before Christmas, we are mindful that we are still waiting for the antibody tests promised to care home staff in May.
We are also pleased to be hearing a lot about preparations for delivery of the vaccines, as soon as these become available, and we do expect our residents and staff to be amongst the first to be vaccinated. However as yet there is no information about whether that will mean any changes to our Infection Prevention and Control routines, whether PPE, visiting or cleaning. As soon as we hear anything more we will of course let you know.
Deepa, Robin and all at Home of Comfort
Links if you would like to read further:
Care Home Visiting Guidance (updated November 5th)
National Winter Plan for Adult Social Care
Home of Comfort’s Current Visiting Policy
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