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Maria Mallaband and Countrywide Coronavirus Update March 2021

Maria Mallaband and Countrywide – keeping our residents safe and connected during Covid-19.

We are now more than seven weeks into our third national lockdown, and it seems that the light at end of the tunnel is now at last in sight.

Thanks to the enormous success of the vaccination role out across our care homes, we are happy to be able to advise you of changes to our visiting policy following the latest update to Government guidelines.

As of 18th February, as well as window visits, we are able to reprise pod and substantial screen visits for the majority of our care homes, once again providing an opportunity for families and friends to share time with their loved ones inside and away from the winter weather.

While this is the case for care homes in England, we have to advise that for those living in our homes in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Jersey the situation is different (see nation by nation guidelines set out below for more details). Even if some families need to wait a little longer, we know a review of the restrictions in these areas is forthcoming, and essential visits at end of life are still permitted in all parts of the UK.

We are now delighted following official guidance issued on 4th March 2021 to be in a position to support indoor visits from a single named visitor in our care homes in England from 8th March. It is important the people living with us have the opportunity and choice for these visits to take place and welcome this as an important step to maintain mental health and well being for all. 

Here is a summary of the main points as provided by the Department of Health and Social Care (4th March 2021) which is clinically led in partnership with Deputy Chief Medical Officers and Public Health England –

  • From 8th March – every care home resident will be allowed one single named indoor visitor (to be unchanged) to hold hands for repeat visits
  • Tests will be required before entry and full PPE equipment to be worn on site
  • Avoiding close contact – apart from holding hands
  • All visitors will receive a lateral flow test and be required to follow all infection prevention and control measures
  • Vaccination is not mandatory and will not be a condition of visiting

 

Services which currently have a Coronavirus Outbreak will unfortunately not be able to receive visitors apart from essential end of life care visits as per government guidance and services will liaise with residents and relatives about this and what can be supported.

Whilst this is the case for care homes in England, we have to advise that for those living in our homes in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Jersey the situation is different (see our website for specific regions and restictions). Even if some families need to wait a little longer, we know a review of the restrictions in these areas is forthcoming. Essential visits at end of life are still permitted in all parts of the UK.

For everyone living and working within the MMCG family this past month has been a momentous one, with the arrival of the long-awaited vaccine. We have been working closely with the NHS community teams and congratulate everyone involved for how smooth and swift the rollout has been in our homes.

We are pleased to report that 99% of those living in our care homes have received their first vaccination. 76% of staff have to date received the vaccine, we are supporting and encouraging those who have not yet received the vaccine.

Crucially we are also making arrangements so that all those who move into one of our care homes are offered a vaccination.   For all new team members starting with MMCG it is compulsory for them to be or to have been vaccinated.

Even as the vaccination brings the promise of an end to the pandemic restrictions, we remain as vigilant as ever in our efforts to keep people safe and protected. Routine, regular testing is ongoing, with both Lateral Flow device tests and PCR tests being used where appropriate, and we continue to observe the most robust infection control measures – as the positive outcomes of recent CQC Infection Control Inspections can attest.

Thankfully, as part of a large care home group, our homes have been in a strong position with a good stock of PPE keeping them well-supplied throughout, and the advantage of our central team providing oversight, support, and training for our teams.

We will continue to follow government guidelines and await further announcements from the Prime Minister as he lays down his plans for the pathway out of lockdown on.  Please be assured that we will respond quickly to reflect future changes in our policies, and continue to keep you all informed throughout.

As we look forward to spring, just a few short weeks away, it is with real hope of better brighter days to come. We wish you and your families well, and once again thank you for the steadfast support and appreciation you continue to show to our hardworking teams. As you so often tell us, they are all amazing! As this past year has shown us, by working together we can keep people safe, well, and happy - and together we will get through what we hope will be the final stages of this lockdown.

England 

Window & substantial screen indoor visits are now permitted. No visits will be permitted in the event of an outbreak, other than those deemed essential (this is specified by the government).

  • Indoors: Essential visits can continue (end life care) Pod/substantial screen visits permitted.
  • From 8th March every resident can have one singled named indoor visit – guidelines are in place
  • outdoors: visits to the care home to see loved ones through the window, arranged with care home in advance.

 

Scotland

Close-contact, Pod & Screen indoor visits remain suspended in Level 4 areas (across most of Scotland). Guidance could change according to factors in local areas. No visits will be permitted in the event of an outbreak.

  • indoors: essential visits only. 
  • outdoors: visits to the care home to see loved ones through the window, arranged with care home in advance, and if Director of Public Health judges
  • to be safe, garden visits permissible.

See https://www.nhsinform.scot/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19-visiting-an-adult-care-home

Northern Ireland

  • Visiting to be determined by care home manager and local area guidance.
     

Jersey

  • Visiting dependant on the vaccination status of the home/resident. All visits should be arranged in advance.

See https://www.gov.je/Health/Coronavirus/HealthCareProfessionals/Pages/CoronavirusVisitingCareHomes.aspx

The above guidance is subject to change based on future government guidance, the situation at individual homes, decisions taken by the local Directors of Public Health, and local or national lockdowns. We will continue to keep our policies under review and provide updates accordingly.
 

Compassionate visits

  • Individuals who move into our care homes to receive professional care at the end of their lives due to critical health conditions; in these extreme cases we can arrange compassionate “in-room” visits for close family members. Compassionate visits are really important for the individual and their families, therefore we do everything that we can to help you get the most out of these visits in the safest possible way. 
     

We always prioritise the health and wellbeing of those living in our homes and the staff who care for them.  We are ready to act quickly to respond to rising infection rates and/or any new revised restrictions imposed by central government or local authorities. This may mean temporarily increasing visiting restrictions as a precautionary measure due to a rise in the number of cases in the local area, or upon the advice of the local Public Health team or national government. 
 
For the latest information on Coronavirus in your area, please visit:
 
England: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19

Virtual visits via video

  •  We are mindful that some of our relatives might be shielding themselves or find it difficult to visit their loved one in person for a number of possible reasons; in these cases, we can arrange virtual visits or telephone calls if video calls are not suitable.

 

COVID-19 Vaccination Update

  • Each local authority area is operating their own vaccination programme which will involve care homes within their locality.
  • We continue to work with local NHS teams to ensure everyone living and working in our homes receives their second dose of the vaccination as soon as possible.

 

Previous information which remains unchanged

We appreciate your patience and understanding that the care homes will do everything possible to accommodate your visit. Though in some cases a delay may be experienced or a visit unable to be accommodated due to individual care home circumstances or reasons beyond our control.

Not everyone is able to visit in person and the roll out of new technology into our care homes has allowed this valuable connection. We are taking bookings for scheduled calls which includes the use of a dedicated resident iPad available in every home. Whether through Skype, Whatsapp, Facetime, Microsoft Teams or for simple catch up over phone, please contact us to arrange.  This can be arranged easily by visiting our website at your convenience, selecting the ‘book a visit button’ and we will be in touch.  We are happy to support and advise where needed on the use of various devices to enable family members and friends to stay in contact, please speak to us if assistance is required.

Essential professional visits continue and are subject to LFD tesing if not already on a testing schedule as per government guidelines.  In line with the government guidelines all visits continue on a restricted basis and is limited to one designated or ‘constant’ visitor per resident, with an absolute maximum of 2 visitors to be individually assessed through a robust risk assessment.  If this changes, as the government news suggests we will let you know, please visit our short regular update section on the website by visiting our ‘Caring through Covid’ page.

As you might expect, all in person visits will continue to be by appointment-only with the Home Manager and will be agreed on an individual home-by-home basis. We are thankful to all visitors for taking the usual safety precautions, including wearing a mask in communal spaces and washing hands regularly. Again, this can be requested by visiting our website and selecting the ‘book a visit button’ or calling the home on their usual contact number.

Regrettably, anyone visiting the home without prior agreement will be refused admission. Our home managers have also been asked not to admit anyone displaying symptoms of Covid-19, and we ask you to cooperate with them in this regard.

In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in a care home, unfortunately visiting will be suspended until the outbreak is over. Essential visiting can continue in the event of an outbreak, however this will be determined on a case by case basis.  This is to protect vulnerable residents, staff and visitors.

Our homes remain open to new admissions as usual and we are following the current guidelines issued from the public health authorities to ensure the wellbeing of all. It is important we continue to support the healthcare system and individuals who require a safe care environment.

Any questions you might have please do refer to your local Care Home Manager.

Thank you so much for bearing with us through these ever-changing times, but please be assured that caring for people living with us will always be our main priority.

We will continue to keep this policy under review and provide updates as appropriate. Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions.