JAN 2021: Covid-19 update

Despite the ongoing national lockdown for Covid-19, there is, we hope, a light at the end of the tunnel with arrival of vaccines. Celia Lee, Head of Baycroft, gives us an update. Since our last update, in October 2020, our care homes have adhered rigidly to government guidance on rules regarding protective measures against the coronavirus and our greatest priority: the good health of our residents and our staff.

Coronavirus preventative and protective procedures

Hygiene and cleaning: All goods, packages, post, gifts and other items brought into any Baycroft home are treated with antiviral wipes at the point of entry.

We use antiviral gels and sprays at high levels of frequency to clean surfaces and furnishings, with suitable cleaning products available but stored safely.

Staff carry antiviral gel with them at all times and disinfect in between caring for each resident.

PPE: All staff members wear approved face masks at all times in every home. For personal care, staff members also don an approved apron and gloves. In the case of caring for a quarantined or Covid-19-positive resident, staff would wear a face visor as well as the standard personal protective equipment.

Laundry: Our laundry process ensures that any laundry belonging to someone quarantined or testing positive would be handled entirely separately to other washing. This is a system which already existed as part of best-practice infection control.

Care home visits

We are keenly aware of the negative effects of stopping care home visits by family members and friends. It is upsetting for everyone, especially our residents, not to be able to see loved ones in person. From the early days of the outbreak in 2020, we moved swiftly to make virtual visits – via Zoom, Facetime or any other online video chat – readily and regularly available for the people who live with us. Before introducing screens into care homes, socially distanced outdoor or window visits were quickly introduced. Of course, the colder, wetter weather has made these visits brief by necessity!

Currently, we are in a national lockdown. The government has legislated against non-essential travel. Our care homes are technically allowed to receive visitors if those visits can be made safely and if the relevant local authority permits it. The local authority will usually make this decision based on the R-rate in the local area. The definition of essential travel is not in our hands and for this reason, we do remind relatives and friends that the responsibility for determining whether the travel to visit a care home is theirs and theirs

alone; we cannot influence how the law regarding travel is interpreted and enforced nationally or locally. Lastly, we would ask that you always contact the care home you are thinking of visiting in advance to check that we are able to arrange a safe visit at that time.

Taking care of residents’ emotional wellbeing

While safety must always come first, the emotional and mental wellbeing of our residents comes a close second.

During lockdown, our wellbeing teams have been proactively contacting family members regularly in order to update them about their relatives’ general health and mood and provide much-needed reassurance.

We have also planned and laid on all sorts of extra activities to support wellbeing while internal visits cannot take place. These happen either virtually in a resident’s room or socially distanced within communal areas. Activities include:

* Virtual cooking lessons

* Virtual church services (including carol services over Christmas)

* Christmas cards sent to residents from local school children

* Online exercises classes

* Virtual art sessions

* Valentine hearts initiative (handmade hearts sent to residents with positive messages on Valentine’s Day) – a really uplifting idea which has received great local press coverage.

If you haven’t already arranged a virtual visit, please do get in touch with the care home manager of your Baycroft Care Home – these online meetings are easier and more enjoyable than you might have feared!

Care home admissions

We are still accepting new residents, providing that there is availability and that the move can be made without compromising the safety of our existing residents. Of course, in-person visits to look around the care home are not currently possible, but we can arrange virtual tours very easily. Just speak with the manager of the care home you’re interested in.

We assess each potential resident by speaking with family and an online meeting with the person who may be coming to live with us. Transfers from hospitals involve assessments by hospital assessors, and if it is to be a transfer from another care home, we’ll coordinate with the other care home to ensure a full assessment has been carried out.

After arrival, new residents must undertake a 14-day quarantine period in their room – just as any existing resident does if returning from a hospital visit. Anybody testing positive before coming to Baycroft must wait 10 days before coming to us and then be isolated for 14 days on arrival. These timescales are based on national guidance; painful though they can be to endure, they keep everybody as safe as possible, and we make sure any quarantined

resident has plenty of personal attention and links up with the rest of the home using our tablets, so they still get to play games and take part in quizzes!

Testing and vaccines

Our staff are tested weekly and all residents tested once every 28 days. Everyone is watched carefully for signs of symptoms so that we can test promptly.

The good news is that the vaccine is being introduced. 83% of all of our residents have now received their first vaccination. More than 50% of all our staff – not just carers – have received their first vaccination as well.

Unfortunately, we don’t get to decide when the vaccines are going to be administered or to whom. Vaccination programmes are guided either by local CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) or GP surgeries, depending on the area of the home, and, like the rest of the country, we have to wait to hear when first and second vaccine doses will be administered for each individual.

Any more questions?

We look forward eagerly to the day when life returns to a more normal state, but in the meantime please rest assured that we’re doing everything we can to keep our residents and our staff safe, happy and healthy. If you have any questions about care, would like to find out about availability in one of our care homes, or want to arrange a virtual visit with your loved ones, please give your local care home a call. In the meantime, stay safe and take care of yourself and your family.