People in residential care homes are at much greater risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid-19 if they get it, and it can be fatal. Stopping Covid-19 from getting into any of our homes will save lives.

We recognise that lockdown has been difficult for many of our residents and their families over the past few months and that visits are an integral part for all those in care homes. Currently our COVID-19 incidence, and therefore risk levels in Devon, are very low and Devon’s Director of Public Health for Devon has stated that there are no restrictions recommended at the moment, as long as national and local guidance is strictly followed, including the need for a dynamic risk assessment. The situation in our area is being monitored closely and if any restrictions are required they will communicate them directly to affected providers and we in turn will let our families know.

To limit our risks, where visits do go ahead we will continue to follow the guidance of Public Health England taking into account infection control procedures and our homes risk assessments.

We are now supporting planned outside visits in our communal gardens, window visits and drive through visits (if possible) to our residents as long as they take place safely and at the agreed 2 metre social distancing rule. Family members may want to wear their own PPE as the home may not always be able to provide this from our own stocks.

To limit risk, where visits do go ahead, this should be limited to a single constant visitor, per resident, wherever possible. This is in order to limit the overall numbers of visitors to the home and the consequent risk of infection. The current guidance is that children are not able to visit care homes at this time.

If a resident is deemed to be at the end of their life then we will undertake a risk assessment and potentially support one family member into the home to see their relative.

What to expect prior to and during your visit

1. All visits must be pre-planned – Please book all visits in with the management of the home

2. In order to support the NHS Test and Track system we will keep a record of the visits date, time, telephone number and your name until we are advised otherwise. All information held will be stored and disposed of securely under the principles of the General Data Protection Act 2018

3. All visitors must complete a risk assessment prior to each visit – this will include:

 Have you been feeling unwell recently

 Have you had recent onset of a new continuous cough

 Do you have a high temperature (all visitors will be temperature checked on arrival)

 Have you noticed a loss/change in taste or smell

 Have you had recent contact (in the last 14 days) with anyone with covid-19 symptoms or someone with confirmed covid-19

4. All visitors must understand that they cannot have physical contact with the resident 5. Visitors must wear a face covering at all times and remember to wash or sanitise hands prior to putting the mask on

6. If necessary a staff member may have to be present

7. All furniture used will be wiped down with disinfectant after each visit

8. The home cannot provide any beverages at this time or offer toilet facilities

9. Visitors should have no contact with other residents and minimal contact with care home staff (less than 15 minutes / 2 metres). Where needed, conversations with staff can be arranged over the phone following an in-person visits

10. Please discuss with the home prior to the visit if there are any items you wish to bring with you, such as a gift. It will need to be something that can be easily cleaned by the care home to prevent cross contamination. For example, it is unlikely that you will be able to bring flowers but a box of chocolates that could be sanitised with wipes would be allowed

11. The following tips may be helpful when wearing the face covering
a. speaking loudly and clearly
b. keeping eye contact
c. not wearing hats or anything else that might conceal your face further
d. wearing clothing or hair in a way that a resident would more likely recognise
e. Provide the home with a photograph that we can show to the resident prior to the visit

Guidance Updates – We will try to update you regularly with any new relevant guidance, policies or procedures
Provider organisations, managers, family members, volunteers, advocates, informal carers, health professionals and others wishing to visit people in such settings, should check this guidance at regular intervals to ensure they are viewing the most recent version. This guidance supersedes previous guidance on visiting policies for care homes.

Guidance for visits out of a care home, for example to a family home, is being considered and we will provide an update shortly.
As we move forward throughout the summer we will be looking at implementing visits in the home but we will need to balance the benefits to the residents, against the risk of visitors introducing infection into the care home.

We are currently in the process of making all of our homes a visitor pod for when the weather is not so nice and these will be available in early September.

In the event of an outbreak in a care home and/or evidence of community hotspots or outbreaks leading to a local lockdown, care homes should rapidly impose visiting restrictions to protect vulnerable residents, staff and visitors.

Date written: 28/07/2020 Written by: Nikki Rogers - Director