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Care South COVID-19 Update

Updated: 05 January 2021

My last COVID-19 update was on 21 December 2020. Earlier communications are available below for your information.

The beginning of 2021 has seen a new more transmissible variant of the virus become far more prevalent across the entire country and we now find ourselves in a national lockdown.

As you would expect, we are proceeding extremely cautiously and carefully as our staff, our residents, care at home clients and their relatives come to terms with this escalating situation.

In the middle of December we took the very difficult decision to suspend all visits to our care homes stating that we would review this position on 4 January 2021. Having considered the current situation we do not feel that we can allow visiting to any of our care homes to resume. The Government advice is very clear that we should not leave home.

All our care homes still have tablets with Skype and Zoom so that you can continue to stay in face-to-face contact with your loved one. Any visiting at a window will be behind a closed window and must be arranged in advance of travelling to the care home.

If a loved one is receiving end-of-life care, visits in a resident’s bedroom will continue but you will need to be wearing PPE that will be provided and is deemed appropriate by the care home based on Government guidelines. In this event, it is especially important that you discuss your visit with the Home Manager in advance so that we can properly support you and your loved one at this very difficult time.

All staff in our care homes and those providing care at home are being tested on a weekly basis. The vaccination programme commenced before Christmas and we are working closely with GPs, medical centres and hospitals to ensure that our front line staff and residents can be protected as a priority.

Our care homes remain sanctuaries and safe havens offering companionship, social interaction, a fulfilled lifestyle, good food and, above all, compassionate care. You will see from the news stories on our website and our frequent postings on social media that our residents have been enjoying themselves during the festive period, supported so well by our amazing staff teams.

Care South at Home continues to care for people in their own homes in a similar fashion, ensuring that those more independent clients can be supported safely at home, and not feel isolated.

We continue to support, recognise and reward all our staff during this national crisis, and are appreciative of their incredibly important contribution in looking after your loved ones. They are truly remarkable.

Your comments on our Compliments for Carers section of our website continues to be a source of inspiration to our remarkable care staff – thank you.

Please continue to leave messages by clicking here – they are so greatly appreciated.

We will continue to communicate any changes to our approach with this ongoing situation through this website page, and we continue to be grateful for your patience and understanding.

Your loved ones are incredibly important to us.

 

Simon Bird
Chief Executive

 

UPDATE: 21 December 2020

My last COVID-19 update was on 18 December 2020. Earlier communications are available below for your information.

We now find ourselves in a rapidly changing situation as the prevalence of the new more virulent variation of the virus becomes more widespread. For now, all of our care homes and care at home offices are within Tier 2 areas, but it is clear that cases are rising across the entire country.

As a nation we have been urged by the UK Government to think very carefully about their advice on how we can gather over the Christmas period. As you would expect, we are proceeding extremely cautiously and carefully as our staff, our residents, care at home clients and their relatives come to terms with this escalating situation.

We have therefore taken the very difficult decision to suspend all visits to our care homes until further notice, and we will be reviewing this position on 4 January 2021. This is not a decision that we wanted to have to take but have done so to keep our staff and your loved ones safe.

All our care homes still have tablets with Skype and Zoom so that you can continue to stay in face-to-face contact with your loved one. Any visiting at a window will be behind a closed window and must be arranged in advance of travelling to the care home.

If a loved one is receiving end-of-life care, visits in a resident’s bedroom will continue but you will need to be wearing PPE that will be provided and is deemed appropriate by the care home based on Government guidelines. In this event, it is especially important that you discuss your visit with the Home Manager in advance so that we can properly support you and your loved one at this very difficult time.

Our care homes remain sanctuaries and safe havens offering companionship, social interaction, a fulfilled lifestyle, good food and, above all, compassionate care. Both our staff and our residents need to be kept safe and be able to enjoy the festive period. You will see from the news stories on our website and our frequent postings on social media that our residents have been enjoying themselves in the run up to Christmas, and that will continue throughout the festive period.

Care South at Home continues to care for people in their own homes in a similar fashion, ensuring that those more independent clients can be supported safely in their own homes, and not feel isolated. As with staff in our care homes, care at home staff are also now being tested on a weekly basis and are going to remarkable lengths to keep their clients safe.

We have continued to support, recognise and reward all our staff during this national crisis, and are appreciative of their incredibly important contribution to our teams in looking after your loved ones. They are truly remarkable.

Your comments on our Compliments for Carers section of our website continues to be a source of inspiration to our remarkable care staff – thank you.

Please continue to leave messages by clicking here – they are so greatly appreciated.

We will continue to communicate any changes to our approach with this ongoing situation through this website page, and we continue to be grateful for your patience and understanding.

Your loved ones are incredibly important to us. I am so sorry that this new virulent variation of the virus will keep you apart from them at this time.

 

Simon Bird
Chief Executive

 

UPDATE: 18 December 2020

My last COVID-19 update was on 5 November 2020 as we were heading into a second national lockdown. An earlier and more detailed communication is available below for your information.

The nation has now emerged from that second lockdown and is working within the tiered system. All of Care South’s residential care homes and care at home offices are within Tier 2 areas.

We have now been given UK Government advice on how we can gather over the Christmas period. We are proceeding cautiously and carefully as our staff, our residents, care at home clients and their relatives come to terms with this temporary relaxation of the measures that have until now kept so many safe at Care South.

We continue to undertake whole-home testing of staff on a weekly basis, and residents on a monthly basis, in accordance with Government guidance. Some Care South staff have already received the first of the COVID-19 vaccinations, and we are busy preparing for the wider vaccinations across all our care homes and care at home offices.

There has been much news of the introduction of Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing for visitors to care homes and the impact that this could have in bringing loved ones together, especially in time for Christmas.

Our policy at Care South homes remains that we will continue to accommodate visiting in our designated visitor areas, where we consider that it is safe to do so.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS Test and Trace have offered advice on making LFD testing available to allow visitor testing in care homes.

In the first instance, DHSC have said they will order test kits for all care homes in December and send them automatically. Unfortunately, not all Care South homes have been provided with these LFD testing kits but we are actively working towards implementing this testing in the New Year.

Once the Government has provided the equipment and training for our homes to offer this, we will write to all relatives with the visitor testing guidance packs. The testing programme will cover a maximum of two designated visitors per resident visiting a maximum of twice a week and will afford the opportunity for closer visiting within the 2-metre distance currently specified.

Until we have the equipment and training, we will continue with the current visiting practices in our safe designated visitor areas.

You will still be required to arrange the visit with the Home Manager beforehand and you must be feeling well before you visit. You will be required to wear a face mask – provided by us – at all times, and to apply hand sanitiser.

If you are unable to visit, all our care homes still have tablets with Skype and Zoom so that you can continue to stay in face-to-face contact with your loved one.

If a loved one is receiving end-of-life care, visits in a resident’s bedroom will continue. In this event, it is especially important that you discuss this with the Home Manager in advance so that we can properly support you and your loved one at this very difficult time.

Our care homes remain sanctuaries and safe havens offering companionship, social interaction, a fulfilled lifestyle, good food and, above all, compassionate care. Both our staff and our residents need to be kept safe, and be able to enjoy the festive period. You will see from the news stories on our website and our frequent postings on social media that our residents have been enjoying themselves in the run up to Christmas, and that will continue throughout the festive period.

Care South at Home continues to care for people in their own homes in a similar fashion, ensuring that those more independent clients are able to be supported safely in their own homes, and not feel isolated. As with staff in our care homes, care at home staff are also now being tested on a weekly basis and are going to remarkable lengths to keep their clients safe.

We have continued to support, recognise and reward all our staff during this national crisis, and are appreciative of their incredibly important contribution to our teams in looking after your loved ones. They are truly remarkable.

Your comments on our Compliments for Carers section of our website continues to be a source of inspiration to our remarkable care staff – thank you.

Please continue to leave messages by clicking here – they are so greatly appreciated.

We will continue to communicate any changes to our approach with this ongoing situation through this website page, and we continue to be grateful for your patience and understanding.

Your loved ones are incredibly important to us.

 

Simon Bird
Chief Executive

 

UPDATE: 13 October 2020

Our care homes and Care at Home offices are based in areas which have experienced lower levels of COVID-19 infections than the UK average.

Our staff continue to go to extraordinary lengths to keep our residents and Care at Home clients safe and it is pleasing to see that, more recently, confidence in the sector is being restored as people see that our care homes are sanctuaries and safe havens offering companionship, social interaction, a fulfilled lifestyle, good food and, above all, compassionate care.

We were aware for a long time that our residents had been missing you and, at the beginning of July, we were pleased to be able to facilitate visits in specially created sheltered areas in the grounds of our care homes.

As we suspected, this proved very popular and we have been delighted that so many visits have taken place, and continue to do so on a very regular and frequent basis.

I am very conscious that these visits need to continue through the autumn and winter months, and we can no longer rely on the gazebos in the grounds of our homes to provide the warmth and protection from the elements.

We are pleased to advise that as we now move into the autumn months those arrangements have now changed and we can now also accommodate visits in designated visiting areas inside each of our care homes. Visitors can access those areas without having to enter any other area of the home and residents do not need to venture outside of the building.

All visits will continue to be carefully managed to maintain the safety and well-being of our residents, yourselves and our staff.  As ever, if you are visiting, please make sure that you have arranged the visit with the Home Manager beforehand and that you are feeling well before you visit.  As you will be coming into our buildings you will be required to wear a face mask – provided by us – at all times, and to apply hand sanitizer.

As before, if you are unable to visit, all our care homes still have tablets with Skype and Zoom so that you can continue to stay in face-to-face contact with your loved ones.

We also encourage visits if a loved one is receiving end-of-life care, and it is especially important that you discuss those visits with the Home Manager so that we can help at this very difficult time.

It looks as though the threat of COVID-19 will be with us for some time to come and our staff are working tirelessly to ensure that life for our residents and clients continues very much as normal.

You will see from the news stories on our website and from our social media postings on Facebook and Instagram, that the vast majority of our residents continue to live fulfilled lives in our care homes and that they are well cared for, well fed, hydrated and entertained in environments observing the very highest infection control measures, as always.

You will also see pictures of the many visits that have already taken place and the joy these are bringing to all!

Throughout this prolonged period of threat posed by COVID-19, we have continued to follow the national guidelines issued by the (UK) Government, the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England, the National Health Service and the Care Quality Commission.

In accordance with the guidance, all staff in our care homes and those delivering care in client’s homes continue to wear face masks at all times, and other PPE as appropriate.  We have an Infection Control Lead for the group whose sole purpose is to ensure that all of our homes and care at home offices have sufficient supplies of PPE, alcohol gels, soap, toilet rolls, gloves, aprons, masks and goggles for the times when these are needed.  We also hold contingency supplies of these in case we experience any supply difficulties.

We have worked hard to maintain uninterrupted supply chains ensuring that at all times we have had, and continue to have, significant levels of PPE. The significant additional cost of this PPE has not been passed on to our residents.

Since the outset of the pandemic, no member of staff at Care South has been in a situation of not having appropriate PPE – making sure that our staff have the confidence to deliver the very highest standards of care.

I am so very proud of all of our staff, who, as well as taking the utmost care when working in our care homes, have also observed the highest levels of social distancing and responsibility in their personal lives.  Care South has some 1,400 employees and since February 2020 just 17 have tested positive for COVID-19.  They all isolated as required, and were supported in their full recovery and have returned to caring in our homes.

We have continued to support, recognise and reward our staff during this national crisis, and are appreciative of their incredibly important contribution to our teams in looking after your loved ones.  They are truly remarkable.

For some time now, we have what we affectionately refer to as “Smart Water” (Tersano – www.tersano.com) in all our homes and home care offices. Smart Water is actually Stabilised Aqueous Ozone – a simpler, safer, more sustainable way to clean and sanitise hard surfaces.  All available evidence points to the fact that this cleaning product kills Coronavirus and is one of the most effective cleaning agents in keeping all our residents and staff safe.  We have Smart Water atomisers at every location to ensure that we achieve the full benefits that this product offers.

As much as the current circumstances pose significant challenges for us all, there is also much to celebrate about the quality of life in our care homes for so many of our residents.

Very sadly, a small number of our residents have passed away during these difficult times – some had tested positive for COVID-19 and some had not.  All were cared for by our truly remarkable care staff.  Where our staff are unable to care for our residents’ needs, we are ensuring that they are safely admitted into hospital and tested before being discharged back into our care homes.  When they return, they are safely isolated in the home in line with Government guidelines.

In line with our Assisi Admissions Plan, treating all of our care homes as sanctuaries and safe havens has helped us safely admit new residents into our homes, so long as it is very safe to do so.  All new admissions continue to be scrutinised to ensure that we do not bring the virus into our otherwise safe care homes.  If our Home Managers deem it safe to admit, then that person is admitted on the basis that they are both symptom and COVID-19 free and kept in a well-supported “micro bubble” within the home, in line with Government guidelines.

When any resident is kept in isolation for any reason, it is important that we devote additional attention to that person’s physical and mental well-being so that, despite being in isolation, our staff – with appropriate PPE – are still providing social interaction, caring for and offering assistance to all of our residents.

Residents showing any symptoms are being tested for COVID-19 on every occasion where they give their consent to do so and the testing system has now evolved so that all of our staff have access to testing as a priority if they show any symptoms.

As you can see, we are doing everything possible to ensure that all our residents are safe, whilst ensuring that life goes on. You will see from our website, social media postings and from your own Skype calls with residents, that they are happy, well entertained and in good, caring hands. I know that they are loving being able to have visits again!

Our primary focus remains on keeping all of our residents and clients safe and our staff well-equipped and protected so that they can continue to observe the very highest standards of care, cleanliness and infection control throughout our care homes and offices.

Please be safe yourself and be assured that if, at any time, we have concerns about anyone in our care homes or home care services in relation to COVID-19, we will of course speak with named contacts for that care home or home care service as a matter of urgency.

We will continue to communicate any changes to our approach with this ongoing situation through this website page, and we continue to be grateful for your patience and understanding.

Your loved ones are incredibly important to us.

 

Simon Bird

Chief Executive