Coronavirus: visiting customers in our Care and Support settings
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.
Whilst we appreciate that from the 19 July most Government restrictions will be lifted, the overarching advice is for the public to remain vigilant and cautious. We are awaiting official guidance from the Government to direct how we should proceed in terms of visiting within our care settings. Until we have received and digested this information we will continue to follow the following protocols so that we can be assured that we are doing everything possible to keep our residents and staff safe, whilst recognising the need for residents to have continued contact with friends and family.
Updated: 19 July 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. Whilst the use of face coverings and social distancing is being relaxed this is still encourage where possible.
Visits are now permitted
Whilst restrictions on socialising will be relaxed from the 19 July, the Group will remain cautious in many of its settings. To this end:
- The number of visitors at any one time will 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 will 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 Longhurst Group colleague 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 care 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 an unlimited number of named visitors and agree visits by prior arrangement with care colleagues
- Visitor numbers will 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
- Named 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 should be kept to a minimum (except for the essential care giver). Handholding is acceptable if hand washing protocols are followed. Hugging presents higher risks but will be safer if it is between people who are double vaccinated, without face-to-face contact, and there is brief contact only
- 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 service before travelling to clarify what local arrangements are in place.
- 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, 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 will be re-opened in accordance with the expected Government’s guidance from 19 July 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.
- 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 staff 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, staff 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.
Any outside visitor to a service has the potential to bring in the virus. As many of the residents have additional health considerations, all visitors will be required to follow procedures to allow staff to follow infection prevention controls.
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
- not be unwell and be free of any COVID-19 symptoms up to 10 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 in the last 14 days (for those who are not fully vaccinated)
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.
Within our care home settings the Government is moving to make COVID-19 vaccination a mandatory requirement for those working within the setting and for staff and professionals entering the premises. As such, once this requirement is in place; with the exception of residents and their family/friends and those entering in an emergency situation; all staff and professionals will be required to provide evidence of vaccination status before being allowed entry into the premises.
More details of this requirement will follow once published by the Government.
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
We would ask that visitors do not gather outside colleagues' 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 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
Communal areas will re-open. By using these areas, residents are asked to continue to use face coverings when moving around the service and comply with sanitising measures for unstaffed schemes. Areas may need to be closed again in the event of an outbreak within the scheme.