Latest News from Home of Comfort
The last week has been a very busy and exciting one and we are delighted to tell you that the first members of our staff team have been able to attend a special clinic to receive the first dose of a vaccination against Covid-19.
At the moment, vaccinations are only available to us through this clinic which is at QA Hospital, but we are expecting arrangements to be made to offer them at the Home of Comfort within the next couple of weeks. This will mean residents can have the vaccine too.
Today, we do not know whether this will be the same vaccine that staff are currently receiving (this is the Pfizer ‘mRNA’ vaccine), or the ‘Oxford’ vaccine. Both have been found in large scale Phase 3 clinical trials to be safe and effective, but they use different methodologies to trigger the immune system to generate antibodies to protect against Covid19. As distributing the Oxford vaccine has fewer logistical challenges, we expect that to be used if it is approved in time, but we know that local plans are being made to distribute the Pfizer one that is the only way to ensure care home residents are protected.
Both of these vaccinations require two doses, which are given with a period of weeks between them. The trials conducted show that full immunity is achieved about 2 weeks after the second dose.
We believe that a single GP surgery will be able to come and run a clinic at the Home for all staff and residents, regardless of where they are registered, and because of the urgency of this, we might get very little notice before it takes place.
It is difficult for us to ask anyone to decide whether they want to have the vaccine and to give formal consent to receive it until we know which vaccine will be offered, but we would like to ask everyone to think now about the question as we do not want anybody to miss out.
If you are the next of kin for someone living at the Home who is not able to decide for themselves, we might be contacting you and asking you if you are willing to give consent for vaccination at very short notice, so if you have any questions it would be really useful if you could raise them in advance. We don’t know all of the answers, but we will do our best to find out for you.
Vaccination is optional for everyone, and we do not know yet how long protection will last and what guidance we will be given – for example, whether staff will need to keep wearing masks, and what difference it will make to the visits a resident might be able to have once they have had the vaccine. However, we believe that this is a very significant step which will offer our residents considerable protection from Covid, and we are very pleased that care homes have been given such high priority by the Joint Vaccination Taskforce and good support from our local public health teams.
While this news is very exciting, for the moment we continue to take the risk of Covid very seriously. Unfortunately we have had a couple more cases detected by our routine testing, and those individuals are now isolating to protect others. This means we are doing extra testing this week, under the guidance of Public Health England, but so far no further cases have been found and PHE are not considering these cases to be a new outbreak.
We are continuing to learn more about the Lateral Flow tests which we will be sent later this month. These are intended to be used to screen visitors, though they are less reliable than the tests we use for routine testing, and there are a number of logistical challenges we need to solve before we can use them, including making sure we have the right spaces available in the Home, and enough staff are trained and available to use the tests. We are hoping to start trialling them in the new year and will keep you all updated.
In the meantime if you have any problems related to visiting please do talk to Deepa or Leena. We realise how hard this year has been for many of you and we really do want to make sure that visits are working for all of our residents. We know you will understand that, especially as we continue to have isolated cases, we need to make sure we are taking every precaution. We are grateful that PHE have not asked us to stop visiting for everyone, but we are aware that we need to be able to demonstrate everyone involved remains vigilant to protect all of our residents and staff so that this can continue.
As you may notice during your visits, we have been decorating the Home for Christmas. This will be a strange Christmas for all of us, but please be assured that we will be doing our best to make it a special time of year even with the current restrictions. Ellie and Magdalena have a number of events planned which will be repeated so that everybody who wishes to is able to attend, and we will try to share plenty of pictures with you all so that you can see what we have been up to.
We expect things to continue to change and develop quickly and we will keep in touch, but as always please do ask if you have any questions.
Wish best wishes to you all,
From all of us at the Home of Comfort.
Links if you would like to read further:
Information about the approval of the Pfizer Covid19 vaccine for use in the UK
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
Sign up to these newsletters (and join our facebook group if you wish) here
And our past newsletters are here