Coronavirus: visiting customers in our Care and Support settings
Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve worked hard to ensure the health and wellbeing of both our residents and our colleagues are kept at the heart of everything we do.
Therefore, we’ve closely followed Government and sector guidance on infection prevention and control to provide safe living and working environments throughout our services including Sheltered Accommodation, Supported and Extra Care Living.
This has meant that we’ve had to introduce restrictions on the use of communal areas and non-essential visitors, which we recognise has been difficult.
We welcome and support the most recent guidance from Government which acknowledges that maintaining opportunities to visit loved ones in our care is crucial to the health and wellbeing of the residents themselves and that of their friends and family.
To support this, we’ve introduced our own protocol for the consistent and fair administration of visiting access that’s in line with Government requirements.
Updated: 20 May 2021
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 as per the Government COVID-19 Response Guidance. Activities such as shopping and visiting with others is permitted but face coverings should still be worn in all indoor settings and social distancing is encouraged.
Visits are now permitted
In line with the current Government Restrictions socialising is limited to the ‘Rule of Six’ in indoor and outdoor spaces.
External visitors to our services will be allowed access, but only if they are:
- Part of a resident’s support bubble (where a household with one adult joins with another household);
- ‘Named visitors’ or ‘essential care givers’ in care settings;
- Complying with the ‘Rule of Six’ meeting arrangements within Extra Care and Supported Living;
- 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 colleagues providing necessary maintenance services; or
- 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 service, all visiting arrangements will be paused so as to control the spread of infection.
Visiting Registered Care services
Registered care homes are subject to specific legal instructions. In the first instance, visiting access will be directed by advice given by the local Director of Public Health.
They monitor local COVID trends and an assessment will be made whether visiting can be allowed, 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:
- Socially distanced garden visits
- Visitor numbers will be limited wherever possible taking into consideration the visiting needs and safety of all residents within the home.
- Residents may nominate up to five named visitors (including where relevant the one named essential care giver)
- A maximum of two named visitors may visit during the same visit and/or within the same day
- The visitors will be required to undertake a lateral flow test before every visit
- The visitors will be required to where PPE throughout the visit
- Hand holding will be allowed, but other physical contact such as hugging should be avoided
- 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 (for those residents with the highest care needs) 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 service before travelling to clarify what local arrangements are in place.
For short term supported housing projects (up to two years) outside visitors are not permitted as is limited by guidance and local restrictions.
- Essential 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, they must not visit (see our Visiting Procedure for Staffed Services).
- Face coverings must be worn in all internal communal areas
- Communal areas will begin to be re-opened within sheltered and supported settings.
Gatherings within communal areas should be in line with the government guidance of ‘rule of 6’ though limited to residents only at this stage. All residents gathering will be required to sanitise their hands before and after using the communal space. Sanitising equipment will be made available.
N.B. For short term supported housing projects (up to 2 years) communal areas will remain closed until the next stage of easement of restrictions.
- New residents will still be allowed to move in
This will happen in line with latest Government guidance.
- Group colleagues will continue to provide care and support to residents.
Group colleagues will be required to undertake a visiting risk assessment prior to any visit. All colleagues will follow the Group's Infection Prevention and Control Procedures including the use of PPE. As a minimum, and where personal care is not provided, staff will wear a face covering and/or maintain a social distance.
Residents or visitors who have any concerns over infection control within a scheme are encouraged to contact us immediately.
All visitors to our services are required to follow procedures that allow our colleagues to maintain appropriate infection prevention control measures.
Permitted visitors are asked to contact the service to:
- clarify if visits are currently allowed and what provisions are in place
- book visits in advance for a specific day, time and length of visit
- 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.
Visitors are asked not to visit if they are unwell and are asked to ensure that they are free of any COVID-19 symptoms up to ten days prior to the day of visit:
- No temperature
- No new cough
- No loss of taste or smell
- No known contact with anyone who has tested positive or displaying symptoms of COVID-19
If the visit is to a care home, visitors are additionally required to ensure that any gifts they plan to give to the individual they are visiting can be sanitised, in line with relevant infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance. Visitors are also asked (where possible) to plan their journey to avoid using public transport prior to the visit to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.
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
- follow social distancing guidance with minimal contact (hand holding only).
We would ask that visitors do not gather outside offices or approach colleagues encountered around the scheme as this may compromise infection control procedures and social distancing.
If you need to speak to a colleague:
- 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.
For Extra Care and staffed Supported Living Services residents may meet with family and friends within their private accommodation and outdoor spaces. Visits should be booked with scheme staff to ensure social distancing and infection controls can be maintained. For logistical reasons use of internal communal areas (see below) will be reintroduced for residents only at this stage.
Current government guidance allows for visits to take place with 6 separate individuals or groups of any size from up to 2 households. Within our settings we may need to limit this number to ensure social distancing can be maintained.
Communal areas within some of our schemes have begun to re-open. By using these areas, residents are asked to comply with social distancing and for un-staffed schemes, sanitising measures. Areas may need to be closed again in the event of an outbreak within the scheme.