Further guidance on lateral flow testing of visitors (8/3/21)

Today after speaking to a few family members we went back to Public Heath England specialist testing advice team for more clarity on testing visitors.

There are circumstances when a ‘visit’ can take place where COVID testing is not a requirement.

Testing is always required to enter any of our buildings where residents live.

Testing is always required if a visitor will be less than 2m away from a resident or member of staff unless there is a physical barrier separating people such as a closed window.

If a visitor is coming to drop off items for a resident and a quick exchange takes place at a door (just like a delivery driver making a contactless drop) and then a visitor stands well back in fresh air continually maintaining a safe social distance greater than 2 metres to chat for less than 20 minutes there is no need to have a COVID test beforehand. Please only do this if you are feeling well and no one in your house or place of work etc is poorly or isolating. We advise that a visitor in that scenario wears a face mask if they are comfortable doing so or it won’t hinder communication.  In keeping with our existing arrangements any items delivered are sanitised upon entering the building.

If you wish to enter the garden to sit with a resident at the table and enjoy a hot beverage or to take a resident out into the local area for a walk then we have been advised that it’s better to carry out a COVID test to keep residents safe.

At all times in every scenario please continue to follow the government guidance on social distancing, mask wearing and keeping hands clean.

All visits/deliveries must be planned and agreed beforehand. 

Existing risk assessed and agreed regular arrangements to drop off items for residents remain in place as they are working well but please let us know if your circumstances change.

What we’re doing to make visits safer (From 8/3/21).

The nature and design of our small houses creates some challenges when welcoming visitors into our buildings but we are very keen to get family, friends and residents back together on a regular basis in a safe way.

We’ve rented a property that’s positioned centrally within our scheme to provide a safe location to carry out rapid lateral flow Covid testing for visitors away from residents.

We also have ground floor washing and toilet facilities within that property for visitors.

We’ve purchased new easy clean garden furniture for all houses and a good supply of single use hot drinks cups.

Our preference for now is garden visits, local walks or a visit to the park. Our latest risk assessment promotes walks away from the home with a visitor in fresh air from 4/3/21 (when every resident will of had a first dose of the vaccine more than three weeks).

Where an outside visit is not possible or not wanted by a resident then we will facilitate a visit directly to a residents own room and provide full protective equipment.

For the moment we’re asking residents with their visitor to remain local in keeping with the spirit of lockdown and to avoid travelling in vehicles.

Visits must be by prior arrangement so we can assign a qualified staff member to carry out testing and ensure we have time to clean, ventilate and prepare the testing area. All visitors must be free of known COVID symptoms prior to arriving, have a normal body temperature when we check it, test negative on our lateral flow COVID test and confirm that they are not likely to be or subject to any contact tracing prior to entering any of the care homes.

The risk of passing on Coronavirus’s is massively reduced in fresh air. We have so far managed to maintain a zero infection rate among our client group so please help us to keep it that way while enjoying a much needed catch up with your loved ones and friends.

Public Health England have confirmed that all visitors even in fresh air must have a satisfactory lateral flow test before being close to residents. We are however welcoming two visitors if it takes place in the garden around a table. This might appeal more to our families and residents.

Until we get further guidance all visitors must be over the age of 16. We are also politely requesting visitors to wear a face covering unless they are having a drink while sat at a table and the table is between the resident and themselves.

We are still learning how to make this work and truly value and appreciate your feedback. 

If you can offer any suggestions on improving things please do not hesitate to contact one of our managers.

If we’ve gotten anything wrong we absolutely need to know so we can put it right.

Please read this in conjunction with the updated national guidance that is also posted on our web site.

Change in visiting arrangements.

Sadly public health (County Durham) have asked care homes to restrict visitors to essential healthcare workers and families supporting residents on an end of life pathway.

Please ring us for further advice as there are still safe ways to keep in contact or to drop items off for friends and loved ones.

During this time we politely request families not to bring food items into our homes and also to be very mindful of the developing situation when considering inviting residents to leave the homes.

This is being reviewed on a daily basis.