A statement from Andrew Cannon

Updated 11 January 2021

Following a sharp rise in the number of new cases of COVID-19 across the UK, the rapid spread of a variant strain of COVID-19 and a significant increase in hospital admissions, governments in England, Scotland and Wales have announced new national lockdowns which place additional restrictions on visits into and out of our services.

In England and Scotland Stay at Home guidance came into effect on 5 January 2021 and Wales continues to be in Level 4 restrictions on 20 December.

Despite inevitable concerns about the stay at home instruction which is planned to be in place for some weeks, this should be balanced with the advancements being made in relation to the COVID-19 vaccination and testing programme which the government expects to enable life to return to some normality in the coming months.

These latest government restrictions were, once again, made with little notice and we are currently working through the implications of the new guidance for our staff and people we support. We appreciate your ongoing understanding that we must balance everyone’s desire to see their loved ones with the government restrictions and our overarching responsibility to keep everyone safe.

I’d like to reassure you that we will continue to put in place all safeguards to ensure our services remain COVID-Secure and that visits are enabled wherever possible within the guidance.

Pre-arranged window visits at staggered times will only be supported in our residential and supported living services where they can be managed safely. Unfortunately, outdoor visits cannot be supported and indoor visits are not currently permissible other than in exceptional circumstances, including end of life where visits will always be enabled.

Where window visits are permissible in England and Scotland, they should happen in the open air wherever possible, whilst recognising that for many visitors this may not be appropriate in the winter. Window visits will only be permissible at our locations in England and Scotland dependant on the specific situation at each service and where the visit can take place in line with government guidance. Social distancing rules must be followed, and visitors must wear facemasks/ PPE when visiting outdoors. In Wales, Level 4 guidance confirms that routine care home visits (indoors and outdoors) should not take place while the current alert Level 4 restrictions are in place.

Families will be contacted by individual service managers with further guidance about how visits must now work. Your support in following all guidance would be appreciated as we continue to make visits as smooth and safe as possible.

Planning your visit

Prior to each visit to see your loved one, we ask that all visitors read our visiting guidance and agree to the rules we have in place. Please note the guidance changes frequently as we respond to changing restrictions and now, thankfully, the increased opportunities rapid testing and vaccinations is bringing.

We are required to record information about our visitors for regulatory and Track and Trace (England) / Track, Trace and Protect (Wales) / Test and Protect (Scotland) records. Therefore, each visitor will be required to complete and sign COVID-19 Guidance – Visiting Proforma/ COVID-secure Declaration before each visit. Please note that, unfortunately, access to facilities will not be allowed so please bear this in mind prior to visiting. The protocols we have established for visits are in line with government guidance for EnglandScotland and Wales.

Further information

You can also watch the below video from the Department of Health and Social Care about preparing for a care home visit. It explains how to get tested with rapid coronavirus testing, and how to use PPE and social distancing measures to visit your relatives safely.

You can find our latest updates on COVID-19 on our website at www.voyagecare.com/news/COVID-19-coronavirus-response/. For the latest updates on the UK’s approach to COVID-19 visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

If you have further questions or concerns or would like to discuss visits home or lateral flow testing and its implications for visiting your loved one in our services, please contact your local service manager or alternatively our Duty Quality Co-ordinator at dutyqcmailbox@voyagecare.com or call 01543 484550.

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