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Our Covid Visiting Guidance
Visiting is an integral part of care home life. It is vitally important for maintaining the health, wellbeing and quality of life of the people we care for and support in our care homes. Visiting is also crucial for family and friends to maintain contact and life-long relationships with their loved ones and to contribute to their support and care.
Additional measures are therefore in place to facilitate visiting while keeping our residents and staff safe. These include infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, individual risk assessments, testing arrangements and isolation on return from some high-risk activities out of the home.
Our Visitor Cabins
In December 2020 we proudly launched new visitor cabins across all 10 of our care homes across Kent, Bexley and Greenwich, to support residents to meet safely with family members despite the coronavirus outbreak. Fitted out with comfortable chairs and decorated with pictures, the cabins support families to visit loved ones in a safe and welcoming environment.
Cabins are cleaned before each visit and are fully stocked with necessary PPE to use during a visit. The cabins are still a popular meeting place even though visits can now take place inside the care homes and we welcome families to speak with staff at the home to arrange booking a visit, either in one of the cabins or inside the home.
The key things to know about visiting a loved one in one of our care homes include:
- Visitors should make arrangements with our care homes in advance of the visit
- Each resident is allowed 3 named contacts to visit, these contacts can be changed but there is a limit of 3 contacts that are allowed to visit the home per resident
- Visitors should make arrangements with care homes in advance of the visit, so that care providers can manage the number of people attending at any one time to ensure safe visiting practices can be maintained taking into account the size and layout of the care home
- The duration of visits should not be limited if safe visiting practices can be maintained
- Visitors should test negative following a lateral flow test which should be done when they arrive at the care home.
- A temperature check of all visitors will be conducted before they enter our homes and they will be asked to wear a face mask whilst inside the home.
- Visits should take place in a room most practical and comfortable for the resident (for example, residents with dementia may be more comfortable in their own room with familiar belongings)
Outbreak Safety & Visiting Protocols
During an outbreak, care providers should also continue to offer visits in well-ventilated spaces with substantial screens, visiting pods or from behind windows – rooms should be left to ventilate with external doors and windows open between uses wherever possible, while aiming to maintain a comfortable temperature for residents and visitors.
Subject to a risk assessment by the health protection team (HPT), outbreak controls may be in place for up to 28 days following the last positive case.
Physical contact should be enabled to help health and wellbeing, as long as IPC measures are in place, such as visiting in a ventilated space, using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the visit, and hand washing before and after holding hands – gloves are not needed for handholding and stringent adherence to hand washing is advised.
Essential care givers need to follow additional testing arrangements outlined below:
Every care home resident should be supported to have an essential caregiver who may visit the home to offer companionship or help with care needs. Essential caregivers should be able to visit inside the care home even during periods of self-isolation and outbreak affecting the care home.
- Take a weekly PCR test and share the result with the home. Care homes should use their existing PCR stocks to test essential caregivers and these should be registered as ‘staff’ tests using the care home unique organisation number (UON) and be returned via courier with other staff tests
- Take a minimum of 3 lateral flow tests a week: one lateral flow test on the same day as a PCR test, one lateral flow test 2 to 3 days later, and then again after another 2 to 3 days. These rapid lateral flow tests can be done onsite, at an asymptomatic testing site (ATS) or at home. These tests should be reported as ‘visitor’ using the care home UON
- In line with care home staff, be subject to additional testing should the care home be engaged in rapid response daily testing or outbreak testing. If this includes lateral flow tests, these can be done at home. This testing must be conducted in accordance with the guidance for care home staff on PCR testing, rapid lateral flow testing (including rapid response testing) and outbreak testing.
We support to undertake visits out of the care homes and residents will only need to isolate following an emergency stay in hospital if they test positive for COVID-19, or following a visit that has been deemed high-risk following an individual risk assessment.
- Visitors should not enter the care home if they are feeling unwell, even if they have tested negative for COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated. Transmissible viruses such as flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and norovirus can be just as dangerous to care home residents as COVID-19. If visitors have any symptoms that suggest other transmissible viruses, such as cough, high temperature, diarrhoea or vomiting, they should avoid the care home until at least 5 days after they feel better.
Visiting our Care Homes – Existing Care Home Residents & Families
From November 25th 2021 it was a requirement that residents receive 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, plus their booster where applicable. Family, friends and other named contacts are not required to provide proof of vaccination, although to keep our residents and staff safe we would encourage all relatives and friends to be fully vaccinated and have their boosters. Visitors should also get their flu jab when it is offered to them.
Visitors who are not legally required to self-isolate are advised against visiting our care homes if they have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, unless absolutely necessary, even if they have been fully vaccinated. Where visits do occur, visitors should have received a negative PCR test prior to their visit, and a negative lateral flow test result earlier in the day of their visit.