Policy on: Reintroducing Visitors During COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID lockdown situation came suddenly and shocked us all. We have always resented having to limit visitors to the home, however during the peak, we accept it was a necessary and correct decision.
Though we are still in the early days of easing lock-down, we think it is the appropriate time for our residents to start seeing their relatives again. We need to understand that although the risk is reducing for the majority of the population, most of the people we support are over 70 and are living with health conditions that could potentially put them at increased risk of not only catching COVID-19, but having further health complications as a result.
We aren’t talking about unrestricted visiting, we understand that there is a way to go before we get there, but we do want to look at having visits outdoors when the weather is nice, or in the the conservatory when the weather is not so good.
All decisions about visiting will always be made following discussion with our residents, their relatives, and our team.
The aim of this policy and all associated documents and risk assessments is to:
Ensure the safety of our residents, their relatives, our team, and any other visiting professional.
Ensure that those who are required or wish to shield/self-isolate are supported to do so.
Ensure the risk of infection and cross transmission is minimised.
Ensure that the mental health and well-being of those who live with us is supported.
What Types of Visiting can we Facilitate?
We have a number of options available visiting and they have been designed to meet the needs of those we support as well as the wishes of those wanting to visit.
Window visiting has been proving a popular option. Relatives would need to phone in advance to make an appointment for a time that suits them. Their loved one would then be helped into one of the care homes front sitting areas so they can talk to their relatives through the window. There would need to be a distance of 2ms between the relatives and the family as, although not in direct company, the windows will be open to help with conversation.
Garden visiting will take place in the back garden. We have a large table with seating that will be disinfected between each visit. Visitors would need to adhere to the 2m social distancing guidelines and would also need to wear a mask. Visiting will be limited to ½ an hour to reduce the risk of needing a toilet break as we will not be able to allow visitors access to the home to use the facilities. Visitors will need to phone and make an appointment to arrange a visiting time.
Visiting Lounge (Conservatory)
We understand the weather here in England is unpredictable and certain weather conditions would render our outside visiting options obsolete. At the front of the care home is our Conservatory. It has a secure door to admit visitors, but visitors will have to come to the main entrance to ring and make staff aware of their arrival and to allow us to open the door to the conservatory.
We have attempted to make the conservatory as welcoming and comfortable as possible; however it will need to be deep cleaned after every visit. Visitors will need to wear a mask as well as use the alcohol hand gel provided.
What to Know Before Visiting
All visits will need to be arranged with plenty of time. This will prevent waiting times.
Only two people can visit at anyone time and they must be from the same household.
Visitors can not be symptomatic. A questionnaire needs to be completed when visitors arrive, and this will be recorded in the relevant care plan.
Consent must be given for visitors to have their temperatures checked for added safety measures.
All visits will be for up to 1/2 hour but no longer. This reduces the risk of needing to use the toilet or having to hydrate.
All visitors visiting in the garden or the visiting lounge (Conservatory) will need to wear a mask which they must provide themselves.
Visitors can not hug or touch their loved ones. As hard as this may be, we aren’t there just yet.
Visitors can bring non-perishable gifts. These gifts will be isolated for 72 hours. To avoid upset, you can give the gifts to the team before visiting if you wish. This may prevent any upset for those living with dementia who may not be able to understand the situation fully.
What if the family member is living with dementia and wants to have contact?
Although we have tried to mitigate all risks, the reality is not everyone will understand the need for distancing. We will look at visiting for each of our residents on a person by person basis. The visitor would need to wear a disposable apron as well as suitable gloves which we are able to supply.
Concerns about being remembered
It’s now been a few months since we had to restrict visiting, and although we have adapted and facilitated visits in a number of ways to help keep you all connected, we are aware that due to various factors, not everyone has been able to continue visiting. If relatives are concerned that their loved one may no longer remember them, we can work with the relative for the week prior to their first visit to help remind their loved one. This could be through photographs, focused conversation, videos etc.
End of life Visiting
Visiting for end of life will be managed in a respectful and dignified manner that embodies our beliefs and our commitment to support end of life care. Visitors will arrange via phone before visiting.
The risk of COVID-19 to those on end of life is outweighed by their current needs. For this reason, we will not enforce PPE to be worn in the bedrooms of those on end of life unless the visitor wishes to. This is so that the resident can have real human connection in their final days. Relatives will be informed of the potential risk to themselves if they chose not to wear a mask and a mask will be offered, but it will be their decision to continue wearing he mask or not.
The visitors will always be escorted when outside of their relatives’ room to reduce risk of cross contamination and infection to the team or other family members. Social distancing must be observed outside the resident’s bedroom but this will not be enforced for end of life visiting in the bedroom.
We understand that day visiting when loved ones are at the end of their lives may not always be enough, however, unfortunately, Crelake is not able to support relatives to stay overnight
at this time. Whilst we cannot accommodate relates to stay overnight, visiting can continue through the night for those coming to the end of their life.
We hope that it will be appreciated that although these guidelines are quite a restriction to all concerned, at least they do show a positive way forward, as we emerge form this difficult situation.
We will update this policy as and when the situation changes.
We very much appreciate your understanding in these difficult times.
The Crelake Team