A statement from Andrew Cannon
Updated 08 March 2021
Following the recent Government announcement about the phased lifting of lockdown restrictions, and the release of a ‘roadmap’ guide to these changes, we are delighted to be able to plan for a safe return to care home visiting from 8 March. As always, these visits will be subject to robust protocols and will only be possible in line with the Government’s guidance, which arrived on 4 March and therefore our plans remain subject to change upon further review of the new information.
We continue to work closely with our services to minimize the risks and ensure the people we support can receive visitors safely.
From 8 March, all people living in our care settings in England will be able to name one individual for indoor visits. This must be one constant person, who will be permitted to visit for 30 minutes, up to 60 minutes where agreed by exception. Visitors will be asked to take a lateral flow test, and should aim to arrive 30 minutes in advance of their scheduled visiting time to await the result before commencing their visit.
Unfortunately, physical contact is currently limited in the guidance to holding hands, whilst all infection and prevention controls and social distancing measures must be followed at all other times. Visits will take place either in people’s bedrooms or in designated visitor areas.
Outdoor visits (where the garden can be accessed through a separate entrance) and non-contact visits (i.e. in visitor pods/window visits), can continue in addition to the permitted indoor visits.
Currently there is no guidance relating to people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and we are urgently seeking clarity around indoor visiting arrangements for those who have been told to shield. We will release further information about visiting for this cohort next week.
Please be aware that visits will not be possible where there in a COVID-19 outbreak at the service. Visits to family homes etc. are not permitted at this time.
There are exceptions to this guidance, for example at end of life. Please speak to the Manager if you believe these exceptions apply to you.
People living in care settings in Scotland will soon be permitted up to two visits per week from up to two designated visitors, one at a time); in accordance with the Scottish Government’s ‘Open with care’ guidance; you may find their FAQs helpful.
We are yet to receive full guidance from the Welsh Government, however they have released a statement suggesting that indoor visiting will be allowed to recommence from 13 March. We will share further information next week.
When you plan for your visit, there are some things you can do to help us ensure it runs as smoothly and safely as possible.
Please remember that visits can only be made at pre-arranged, staggered times which are jointly agreed in advance. This arrangement is necessary to ensure we reduce the number of people visiting at any one time, to protect the people we support and the staff team. Before agreeing to visits our managers will complete risk assessments to make sure the visit is safe and we ask that all visitors read and agree to our visiting protocols – the team at your loved one’s service will talk you through this requirement.
Ahead of your visit, please remember that if you are experiencing any of the key symptoms of COVID-19 you should not come to the service, we will be happy to rearrange your visit for after your period of self-isolation.
On arrival at the service you will be asked to wash and sanitise your hands thoroughly and carry out a lateral flow test. Please be aware that we cannot permit visits without a negative test result. We are also 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 our visiting proforma upon arrival.
Indoor facilities, e.g. bathrooms, kitchens, will unfortunately not be available during your visit so please bear this in mind prior to visiting.
The protocols we have established for visits are in line with Care Provider Alliance Visitors’ Protocol which is supported by CQC in England. If you have any questions about visiting arrangements, please speak to the Manager.
The vaccination programme is progressing well and over 63% of the people we support and our staff team have now received their first dose; this number is increasing all the time as the national programme progresses and we are particularly happy to see that people with learning disabilities have been reprioritised. We hope to see the vaccine roll out quickly to the people we support from this point and we are doing all we can to facilitate them receiving their vaccination at the earliest opportunity.
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 email@example.com or call 01543 484550.