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Coronavirus: visiting customers in our Care and Support settings

Longhurst Group has introduced its own protocol for the consistent and fair administration of visiting access that’s in line with Government requirements.

Coronavirus: visiting customers in our Care and Support settings

Updated: 30 November 2021

During the sustained COVID -19 pandemic, Longhurst Group has worked to ensure that the health and wellbeing of its staff and residents is at the forefront of any plans or actions. Therefore, we have closely followed Government and Sector Guidance on infection prevention and control to provide safe living, caring and supported environments to those within our services including Sheltered Accommodation, Supported and Extra Care Living.

While we appreciate that many of the Government restrictions were lifted in the summer, the continued advice for the public is to remain vigilant and cautious. We recognise the need for family and friends to visit their ones and will do all we can to facilitate this whilst following Government guidance on precautions needed to keep our staff and residents safe.

Visiting protocol for Longhurst Group Care and Support schemes

Residents should exercise caution when leaving their homes.

To protect themselves and others, all residents are advised to exercise caution when outside of their homes. Whilst the use of face coverings and social distancing is being relaxed this is still encouraged where possible.

Visits are permitted

Whilst restrictions have been relaxed, the group will remain cautious in many of our settings. To this end:

  • Visits to our care settings will need to be arranged in advance to reduce and limit the risk of visitors interacting with other residents and staff. The number of visitors into a service at any one time may be restricted in our care settings to ensure that we can continue to manage infection control and keep all residents and staff safe
  • Meeting arrangements within Extra Care and Supported Living may equally be restricted in terms of numbers of visitors passing through the premises in a day

All other types of visitors will be permitted including:

  • A healthcare professional delivering essential healthcare
  • Delivering care or cleaning services
  • Delivering a pharmacy prescription or Royal Mail post to a resident’s front door
  • External volunteers delivering shopping or essential items to a resident’s home, if the resident is unable to pick them up themselves
  • A contractor or member of Longhurst Group staff providing necessary maintenance services
  • A member of the emergency services responding to an emergency call.

Track and Trace

All permitted visitors to services will be required to register within the scheme in accordance with the Government Track and Trace requirements (see our Visiting Procedure for Staffed Services).

Visitors to staffed services should contact the scheme in advance of a visit for specific information on local arrangements.

In the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in a care service, adjusted visiting arrangements may continue – please see details below.

Visiting Registered Care services

Visiting access is supported by the local Director of Public Health. They monitor local COVID trends, and an assessment will be made whether visiting arrangements need to be adjusted, in accordance with Government recommendations at the time. 

Our current visiting arrangements are subject to an appropriate health screening process (see our Visiting Procedure for Staffed Services), but include the following: 

Outdoor arrangements

  • Garden visits
  • Window visits
  • Visitor numbers may be limited wherever possible taking into consideration the visiting needs and safety of all residents within the home

Indoor arrangements:

  • Visits are allowed by prior arrangement with care staff
  • Visitor numbers may be limited wherever possible taking into consideration the visiting needs and safety of all residents within the home
  • Each resident may nominate one person as an ‘essential care giver’ who may visit even during periods of outbreak.
  • ‘Essential care givers’ will be required to undertake regular COVID testing
  • Visitors will be required to undertake a lateral flow test on the day of every visit either on-site or at home and produce evidence of a negative test before entry to the home
  • Visitors will be required to wear PPE throughout the visit
  • Physical contact is supported but additional precautions should be taken including the use of PPE, a well-ventilated space and handwashing before and after hand holding
  • Indoor visits will also be allowed in exceptional circumstances such as end of life, for essential health and care professionals, and where a visitor is nominated as an essential care giver with the necessary infection control precautions in place (including appropriate use of PPE).

We provide digital communications where physical visiting is not feasible and to supplement face to face visits.

Visitors should contact the home prior to travel to clarify what local arrangements are in place.

Additional considerations

  • All visitors must follow our infection control procedures
    These include undertaking a lateral flow test (where required), signing in, using hand sanitiser, wearing a face covering and going straight to their destination. If anyone planning to make an allowed visit displays any COVID-19 symptoms or has had symptoms of a transmissible virus, they must not visit (see our Visiting Procedure for Staffed Services).
  • We request that face coverings be worn in all internal communal areas
  • Communal areas have been re-opened within sheltered and supported settings.
    Residents are asked to continue to be cautious with the number of those they are gathering with in communal areas. Residents are also asked to sanitise contact surfaces and their hands before and after using the communal space. Sanitising equipment will be made available.
  • During periods of outbreak, visiting may continue.
    A decision to continue to allow visiting during periods of outbreak will be determined by the local Health Protection Team. Visiting would be restricted and may be limited to window or outside visits. The staff will communicate any adjustments to those wishing to visit.
  • Visitors to our services should not enter if they are feeling unwell.
    If visitors have had symptoms of transmissible viruses such as a cough, high temperature, diarrhoea or vomiting we ask that they avoid entering the scheme until at least five days after they have begun to feel well again.
  • Those identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case should avoid visiting during the 10-day isolation period even if they are not legally required to self-isolate.
    The government advises that visits should only take place in exceptional circumstances and only if the person has had a negative PCR prior to the visit and a negative lateral flow result on the day of the visit.
  • Longhurst Group colleagues will continue to provide care and support to residents.
    Colleagues will be required to undertake a visiting risk assessment prior to any visit. All Longhurst Group colleagues will follow the Group’s Infection Prevention and Control Procedures including the use of PPE, regular testing and complying with vaccination requirements. As a minimum, for indoor settings and where personal care is not provided, colleagues will continue to wear a face covering and/or maintain a social distance.

Should a resident or visitor have any concerns over infection control within a scheme please contact Longhurst Group to raise your concerns.

Visiting procedure for staffed services

Any outside visitor to a service has the potential to bring in the virus. As many of our residents have additional health considerations, all visitors will be required to follow procedures to allow colleagues to follow our own Infection Prevention Controls.

Before making your visit

Visitors are asked to contact the service to:

  • clarify if visits are currently allowed and what provisions are in place
  • book visits in advance
  • check in with the local staff team on the day prior to their visit, to ensure the situation in the service has not changed and to confirm any testing arrangements
  • not be unwell and be free of any virus symptoms, including COVID-19 symptoms up to five days prior to the day of visit:
    • No temperature
    • No new cough
    • No loss of taste or smell
    • No diarrhoea
    • No vomiting
    • No known contact with anyone who has tested positive or displaying symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days (for those who are not fully vaccinated)
Vaccination status

Within our care home settings, the Government has moved to make COVID-19 vaccination a mandatory requirement for those working within the setting and for staff and professionals entering the premises. As such (with the exception of residents and their family/friends, and those entering in an emergency situation) all colleagues and professionals will be required to provide evidence of vaccination status before being allowed entry into the care home.

Whilst the Government has not mandated a vaccination requirement for friends and family to visit care homes, it is recommended that where possible visitors have both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and booster where applicable. It is also strongly recommended that visitors get the flu jab when offered

During your visit

Permitted visitors are required to:

  • provide the necessary track and trace contact information required at the point of entry to the service
  • comply with the local infection prevention and control measures, including (if requested) prior to entry:
    • undertaking a lateral flow COVID test upon entry to the service (care, extra care and supported living schemes)
    • a temperature test,
    • mandatory hand hygiene,
    • the wearing of a face covering or use of other PPE as required
    • remaining in the designated visiting areas
  • proceed directly to and from the apartment you are visiting and maintain social distance avoiding contact with other residents and staff
  • comply with all Coronavirus-related notices and direction signs that are displayed as you pass through the scheme
Contact with our colleagues

We would ask that visitors do not gather outside staff offices or approach colleagues encountered around the scheme, as this may compromise infection control procedures.

If you need to speak to a staff member:

  • appointments should be made by telephone or by email prior to or after your visit
  • in-person dialogue with staff will only be conducted outdoors or through an open door or window or by using face coverings whilst remaining two metres apart at all times.
  • in an emergency, please telephone or use the emergency call system
Internal communal areas

Residents are asked to continue to use face coverings when moving around the service and comply with sanitising measures for un-staffed schemes. Areas may need to be closed again in the event of an outbreak within the scheme.

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