Our COVID-19 Update For You
In such a time of uncertainty, we thought we should share with you what we are doing to ensure that the residents in our care are as safe and as well as possible.
As you will already know we took the decision to suspend all visitors to our homes to minimise transfer of the virus. We didn’t take this decision easily as we know it may cause both our residents and their families some distress, but we have a duty of care for our residents and staff whilst we all get through this pandemic. As we see the confirmed cases rising across the country we wanted you to know that we continue to follow all Public Health England, Department of Health and NHS guidance. Sadly, we may experience confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our homes, so wanted to assure the next of kin that we will contact them immediately if their relative becomes unwell or has a positive COVID-19 result. We have strict protocols in place to avoid the spread of the infection and staff have been trained in all universal precautions.
We have provided limited access for technicians providing essential maintenance or repair to machinery such as the lift, or kitchen laundry equipment, and in these circumstances, strict measures based on Universal Infection Control guidelines are followed.
We are caring for the residents mainly in their individual rooms, delivering their meals, and with social distancing observed for any visits to the communal areas; this is more challenging for staff on our memory care floor for obvious reasons. All staff are taking extra care should any resident show any symptoms that might indicate the presence of the COVID-19 virus, and our isolation protocol would be implemented immediately, with the resident confined to their room and receiving barrier care. PPE protocols are in place for both staff and residents.
As well as routine day-to-day cleaning, our brilliant Housekeeping Team are being extra vigilant in frequently cleaning all the ‘touch points’ in the home, such as handrails, door handles, stair rails, door plates, light and other equipment switches, chair arms and hoists. This list of areas is endless, but basically, if it is touched, it gets cleaned!
Key staff have been trained to undertake tasks usually provided by the District Nurse in case they can’t attend a home, with additional staff trained to administer medications. We are doing as much as we can to help our staff feel safe, valued and in good spirits, and that within the hard work there is an element of fun. We are also providing them with plenty of meals, snacks and refreshments, and have introduced a 7 days-a-week Staff Welfare Helpline for anyone should they need support.
The creativity of our staff, led by the Well-being and Activities team, has really stepped up at this time to keep the residents active, engaged and entertained. We are using our Facebook page to help residents keep in touch with their friends and family and Skype for more private face-to-face screen conversations when possible; these do take up a lot of time and we may not always be able to hold these calls when preferred. The Well-being Staff and Care staff are facilitating one to one activity with residents in their rooms as much as possible, such as chair exercises or a short walk around their room or in the garden; these help to maintain resident’s overall wellbeing. We have implemented new innovative activities such as doorway quizzes, karaoke and bingo; the residents sit just inside their doorways to join in, able to see other residents but maintain social distancing. The Well-being and care staff are also supporting as much as possible with hair and nail care, one resident at a time and which does not require the use of PPE.
All the homes are supported by a dedicated COVID-19 Team within Avery Healthcare, who oversee the management of the policies and protocols, with daily and weekly updates to the homes. To alleviate the pressure on the NHS we have offered a number of beds to local authorities in some homes and have agreed to remote assessment of potential admissions in order to expedite the process and free up capacity.
Finally, we have been humbled by the support from our local communities and businesses wanting to help us through this difficult time, and individuals offering their support on a voluntary basis. Lovely comments on our social media and in notes to the home have been a real boost to staff morale. We thank you all, and want you to know that all the staff feel appreciated that their hard work on the frontline, caring for the most vulnerable age group in the face of this crisis, nearly all of whom have underlying and sometimes complex conditions, is valued and acknowledged.