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15th December 2021 - COVID-19 Visiting Update

Summary of guidance changes published 14th December 2021:

  1. People living in care homes will be allowed THREE named visitors who can visit regularly plus an essential care giver. These visits need to be booked with the care home team in advance. Only pre-school aged children will not be included in the number of visitors.
  2. People who are fully vaccinated and have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, do not need to quarantine if they receive a negative PCR test result and take daily rapid lateral flow tests until 10 days after their last exposure to the positive case.
  3. Visitors should not enter the care home if they are feeling unwell, even if they have tested negative for COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated and have received their booster. They should avoid the care home until at least 5 days after they feel better.
  4. People who live in the care home who have received at least 2 doses of the vaccine, or are exempt from vaccination, will not have to quarantine following most visits out of the care home, if they follow the correct testing regime. However, people who have not received at least 2 doses of the vaccine, and are not exempt from vaccination, should quarantine for 14 days following a visit out.
  5. Visitors are advised against visiting the care home (for 10 days) if they have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, unless absolutely necessary, even if they have been fully vaccinated. Where visits do occur, visitors should have received a negative PCR test result prior to their visit, and a negative lateral flow test result earlier in the day of their visit.


Further details of guidance changes are available below.

We understand the confusion and anxiety felt by families during these changes to guidance, which were initially shared with the press prior to care homes being informed. We wanted to enable families to plan and prepare for the upcoming guidance changes. Earlier this week we had been able to access the possible changes coming in line with Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s announcement on Monday 13th December, stating these changes are due to come into effect – please see the following link: https://youtu.be/CcGScyMMYqQ.

The government has now published the new guidance which includes the following important message:

People living in care homes are typically more vulnerable to severe illness as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). While vaccination is proving very effective, we are still seeing some cases of severe illness, hospitalisation and death of care home residents who have been vaccinated. Caution is advised as we learn more about real-world vaccine effectiveness and disease severity of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The guidance then details additional measures being taken to keep people who live and work in care homes as safe as possible:

Additional measures are in place to facilitate visiting while keeping care home team members and residents safe. These include:

  • limiting the number of visitors who can visit regularly
  • infection prevention and control (IPC) measures
  • individual risk assessments
  • testing arrangements
  • isolation on return from some high-risk activities out of the home

 

The key guidelines to be aware of when visiting a care home are:

 

  • Every care home resident can nominate up to 3 visitors who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits
  • This number does not include essential care givers and preschool age children. Please note this indicates a change to previous guidance, whereby children up to the age of 18 were not included within visitor numbers.
  • Visitors should make arrangements with care homes in advance of the visit. Please contact the care home by email or telephone to arrange your visit.
  • The duration of visits will be determined by the home and their ability to ensure safe visiting practice.
  • Visits should take place in a room most practical and comfortable for the resident (for example, residents with dementia may be more comfortable in their own room with familiar belongings)
  • Visitors should complete a lateral flow (LFD) test and report their negative result to the home on the day of their visit.
  • Essential care givers need to follow additional testing arrangements, and essential care givers will continue to be able to visit inside the care home, even during periods of outbreak affecting the care home.
  • Subject to a risk assessment by the health protection team (HPT), outbreak controls may be in place for up to 28 days following the last positive case especially as we learn more about real-world vaccine effectiveness and disease severity of the Omicron variant.
  • We recognise that physical contact can help everyone’s health and wellbeing, and as long as IPC measures are in place, such as visiting in a ventilated space, using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the visit, and hand washing before and after holding hands – gloves are not needed for handholding with stringent adherence to hand washing protocol.
  • Visitors should not enter the care home if they are feeling unwell, even if they have tested negative for COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated and have received their booster. Transmissible viruses such as flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and norovirus can be just as dangerous to care home residents as COVID-19. If visitors have any symptoms that suggest other transmissible viruses and infections, such as cough, high temperature, diarrhoea or vomiting, they should avoid the care home until at least 5 days after they feel better.
  • Visitors who are not legally required to self-isolate are advised against visiting the care home (for 10 days) if they have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, unless absolutely necessary, even if they have been fully vaccinated. Where visits do occur, visitors should have received a negative PCR test result prior to their visit, and a negative lateral flow test result earlier in the day of their visit.

Residents will be supported to undertake visits out of the care home as appropriate:

  • Residents who have received at least 2 doses of the vaccine, or are exempt from vaccination, will not have to quarantine following most visits out of the care home, if they follow the correct testing regime.
  • Residents who have not received at least 2 doses of the vaccine, and are not exempt from vaccination, should quarantine for 14 days following a visit out.

All residents should continue to quarantine following an emergency stay in hospital or if they test positive for COVID-19, or following a visit that has been deemed high-risk following an individual risk assessment by the care home.

Vaccination is one of our best defences to combat infection. The COVID-19 vaccine significantly reduces the transmission of infection, particularly after 2 or more doses. It is strongly recommended that residents and visitors receive 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, plus their booster especially in light of the emergence of the Omicron variant. The data shows that booster doses are required to provide higher levels of protection against symptomatic infection. If eligible, visitors should also get their flu jab when it is offered to them.

We understand that this could be an upsetting situation both for you and your loved ones, we are also sorry to note that restrictions are being strengthened in care homes, however we will continue to do all we can to accommodate visits across our homes based on government advice and will make this Christmas as special as we can despite any restrictions in place.

For people unable to visit, we continue to support with many innovative methods to keep people in touch with loved ones; you can arrange a video call and for people who can’t visit, residents have enjoyed receiving handwritten notes and handmade gifts, which have helped to keep people in touch with each other and brought lots of joy to the people in the homes.

Please note that we will regularly review our visiting policy and therefore welcome any feedback from your visits preferably by email, your feedback will help us to make any improvements needed.

Each of our care homes continue to communicate updates around COVID-19 with residents' nominated family members by telephone and email. If you would like to receive any further information, please contact the homes directly or our Quality team on cqt@excelcareholdings.com who will be happy to help you with any queries.

Kindly note that these new arrangements are subject to local IPC/PHE and local rates of COVID-19 including any surge testing. Any further relevant National guidance from the Government and Public Health England (PHE) when issued will override the guidance set out here.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support.

2nd October 2021 - COVID-19 Visiting Update

We are excited to announce that our homes will be opening up to visits taking place in people’s rooms from Monday 4th October! We are sure you will be as thrilled as we are to hear this news as we take further steps towards normality, by making it easier for you to see your loved ones.

The Home Manager will speak with you about the home’s plan – including providing details of risk assessments being put in place for each person.

From October 4th two people from the same bubble are welcome to visit in a loved ones room at any time, without having to book, between 10am – 5pm each day, so long as you have provided your COVID-19 Vaccine Passport as evidence and have also received a negative Lateral Flow Test (LFD) prior to your visit. For people who prefer not to stay in their rooms, other arrangements will be made with you based on the individual in question.

If you are planning to visit after 5pm, you will need to give the care home some notice by telephone or email, so that we can ensure a team member is available to check your LFD test results.

Children are also welcome to visit, and each visit will be based on a risk assessment being undertaken, taking account of local transmission rates and exposure risks of COVID-19 and how the child responds to visiting in a room.

In the event of an outbreak, We will work with the Local IPC and PHE leads – it is likely that visiting would be stopped or curtailed – dependent on the level of the outbreak, local case numbers and other risk factors determined by the local leads in conjunction with the home. Typically these restrictions should continue until the outbreak is confirmed as over, which will be at least 14 days.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support, and we look forward to welcoming you once again.

16th July 2021 - England moves to Step 4 from 19th July

Following the Health and Social Care Minister Mr. Sajid Javid recent announcement that ‘Freedom Day’ on 19 July will bring an end to restrictions on visitors for care home residents in England, the government’s guidance was updated to allow every care home resident to have ‘named visitors’ to enter the care home for regular visits, with there being no limit on the number of ‘named visitors’ that a single resident can have and no nationally set limit on the number who can visit in a single day.

This guidance was set despite Mr. Sajid Javid admitting that cases of COVID-19 are rising and that they will continue to rise significantly; whereby he also said that the NHS are now protected so the lifting of many restrictions could now take place.

The changes to the guidance for care home visiting from the 19 July has not taken into account the questions posed by the Independent Care Group, whereby the chair, Mr. Mike Padgham, has rightly expressed concern over relaxing visiting rules, as per the below -

He said: “Everyone wants to get life back to normal, but as the Prime Minister said at the start of his announcement, we are ‘very far from the end of dealing with this virus’. Cases are still rising, and people of all ages being looked after in care and nursing homes, as well as in their own homes, remain the most vulnerable to COVID-19. I would therefore say that masks should remain compulsory for all those working in and visiting care settings for the foreseeable future. I also believe that care settings have to remain vigilant and careful around visiting and not let it become a free for all.”

He added: “In case people need reminding, we have lost 32,000 people in care and nursing homes to COVID-19 – we don’t want to lose any more mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or friends.”

Within Excelcare our mission throughout COVID-19 has been to keep people as safe as possible, and this remains our focus for your loved ones. With this in mind, we have detailed the latest government guidance below which we believe opens the door to higher risks of infection.

The guidance states “Friends and family should be advised that their ability to visit care homes is still subject to the specific circumstances of the care home and those living and working within it. This is likely to mean that the frequency of visits is limited and/or controlled and that it is recommended that the home has an arrangement to enable booking/appointments for visitors. Ad hoc visits cannot be enabled.” SIC

Your loved one’s safety is paramount to us. Based on the above, as well as our own internal risk assessments, with cases rising, we need to remain cautious across all of our homes. With this in mind, we will be keeping key protections in place at step 4 from 19th July.
 

Visits to care homes

We are happy that there is no limit on the number of ‘named visitors’ that a single resident can have. However, the UK is currently seeing cases of COVID-19 rise on a daily basis. With this in mind we want to do all that we can to keep people as safe as possible and to mitigate the risk of outbreaks within our care homes.

We are taking a cautious view given the prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities – therefore we do need to continue to manage visits and the numbers of people visiting our homes by following the below:

  • Two visitors from the same household can visit at the same time - subject to the visiting arrangements specific to each care home or any local guidance issued by Directors of Public Health.
  • ·        We will continue to support all care home residents to nominate an essential care giver, who will be able to visit the person, even if they are quarantining. This role is not included within the numbers quoted above.
  • All visits must be pre-booked to enable us to manage them safely and ensure the appropriate cleaning measures and use of PPE are followed at all times. These visits are offered to named visitors through arrangements such as outdoor visiting, rooms with substantial screens, visiting pods, or from behind windows, as well as visiting loved ones in our designated spaces within the homes.
  • Where a visit cannot take place in the designated area due to a person’s frailty, it is still important to us that these visits happen. Under these circumstances, a visit can be arranged in the person’s room, which we will support and encourage.
  • Please note that more than 2 visitors in a person’s room at any one time is difficult to manage – due to air circulation increasing the risk of infection.
  • We require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before a visit can take place. We need visitors to continue to upload the result of the LFD test carried out at home onto both our portal and the NHS Track and Trace. The home’s administration team will share this link with you if you do not already have it.  In exceptional circumstances where a person cannot use the portal, a member of the care home team will provide support in carrying out the test prior to the visit. Please note that there will be up to a 30-minute wait, outside of the home, whilst the test result appears.
  • All visitors to a care home are required to continue to follow Excelcare guidance on infection prevention and control measures: wearing PPE and keeping social distance from other residents, visitors, and team members. This includes wearing a mask at all times within the care home.

Each care home's capacity is different and local COVID-19 prevalence will be taken into account - we remain vigilant as England opens and therefore a flexible approach to care home visiting is important.

All our plans are subject to local Variants of Concern prevalence and local Public Health guidance. We see the number of COVID-19 cases rising across counties currently, so what we do and how we do it, will be further determined by local information.

Please contact the home for more detail on what is happening locally.

For more information, please read our FAQ document by clicking here.
 

Visits out of care homes

  • In most cases, residents who go on a visit out of a care home will no longer need to quarantine for 14 days when they return. Residents returning from high-risk visits out of the care home, such as an overnight stay in hospital, or to attend a large gathering, will still be required to quarantine on return to the home.
  • Decisions on risk will be made collaboratively, following a risk assessment by the care home. This will consider the number of cases locally, the risk rating of the visit out and the person’s ability to quarantine on return.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support, our teams have loved the kind messages of thanks and encouragement, so please do keep these coming as we face into a winter none of us have encountered before.

Please contact covid19helpline@excelcareholdings.com with any queries you may have.

18th May 2021 - COVID-19 Visiting Update

We are pleased to advise that the Government has released new guidance effective from 17 May 2021, which lifts some limitations on visiting care homes, replacing previous guidance. The measures described in the new guidance relate to visits with friends and family that take place within care home premises.

We understand that visiting is a central part of care home life. It is crucially important for maintaining the health, wellbeing and quality of life for the people we support. Visiting is also vital for family and friends to maintain contact and life-long relationships with their loved ones and continue to be involved in care & support decisions.

With the above in mind, we will be accommodating visits to our care homes wherever it is possible to do so safely. Our visits will be supported by this guidance and within an environment that is set up to manage risks. All of our visitors also have an important role to play – helping to keep their loved ones, other residents and our team members safe by carefully following the guidance put in place by the government, as well as our care homes.

Each resident can now nominate up to 5 named visitors who will be able to enter the care home for regular pre-booked visits. Residents who are assessed to have higher care needs are also able to nominate an Essential Care Giver, who may visit the home to attend to essential needs.

The 5 named visitors excludes babies and children under the age of 2, who may visit so long as this does not breach national restrictions on indoor gatherings.

To reduce the risk of infection, care homes are able to welcome no more than 2 named visitors at a time, or over the course of one day, with Essential Care Givers being included in this limit.

Named visitors are required to:

  • be tested using rapid lateral flow (LFD) tests, and produce a negative COVID test prior to their visit
  • wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • maintain social distancing and follow all other infection prevention and control measures during visits   

We strongly advise residents and their named visitors to keep physical contact to a minimum. Visitors and residents may wish to hold hands, but should bear in mind that any physical contact increases the risk of transmission. For this reason, there should not be close physical contact, such as hugging, at this time.

Named visitors will be required to carry out an LFD test in their own home before every visit to the care home. Prior to visiting, they will need to share their result with the home. To aid in this process each homes has a dedicated online form, which will be shared by a member of our team at the point of any visits being arranged.

Should anyone be unable to produce a negative result for that day, they are required to carry out an LFD test at the care home prior to entry. This will involve at least a 30-minute wait for the test results. Please allow for this time ahead of your pre-booked visit.

Outside of five named visitors and an Essential Care Giver, where possible, our care homes will also be continuing to offer visits to other friends or family members through pre-booked video calls and socially-distanced visits taking place in other areas of the homes.

In the face of new variants of the virus, and a potential upsurge in current prevalent types of COVID-19, we need to remain alert to risks to ensure we protect those most at risk in care homes while ensuring indoor visits can go ahead. Welcoming loved ones into our care homes inevitably brings risk of COVID-19 transmission.

However, these risks can be mitigated, though not eradicated and we are carefully balancing our guidance against the importance of visiting and the benefits it brings to residents and their families.

As we continue to move through the steps of the roadmap out of lockdown, we look forward to being able to welcome more visitors, when the data on prevalence tells us it is safe to do so. The government have stated their aim is that by the summer, care home visiting will feel as relaxed and normal as possible; retaining only infection prevention and control measures that are needed to protect residents from the risk of infection.

In the event of an outbreak, movements in and out of care homes will be minimised as far as possible and limited to exceptional circumstances only, such as to visit a friend or a relative at the end of their life. These restrictions should continue until the outbreak is confirmed as over, which will be at least 14 days.

We truly appreciate your continued support and do hope that you understand that in prioritising the safety of residents, their loved ones, and our team, we are required to follow national guidance set out in law.


As always, at Excelcare our first priority is putting the safety and wellbeing of the people living and working in our care homes and their family and friends, at the centre of any actions we take.

We would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that we are continuously monitoring COVID-19 pandemic guidelines released by the Government, Public Health England and CQC, (the independent regulator of health and social care) as a matter of the utmost priority. This is to ensure that we keep everyone involved with our services safe and that each of our care home team members are supported to safely continue their work in providing the highest quality care in such unprecedented times.

Robust and comprehensive contingency plans have been put in place in response to the Coronavirus outbreak in the UK. We have set up a COVID-19 Response Team to review and share up to date guidance and information to our colleagues working in each of our services. We are keeping our contingency and risk management plans under regular review and updated as advised by the Government and Public Health England.

We are still supporting people to move into our care homes, so please do give your local Excelcare care home a call if you are looking for care or need any advice or assistance.

Where we are supporting new residents from the community to move into our care homes, we have clear protocols in place. This ensures that where possible they have been COVID-19 tested; and where this is not possible, they will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19. If it is deemed appropriate for an individual to move in, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days for their safety and the safety of others.

In line with Government guidance, any resident moving in or returning from hospital will have to be tested before being accepted into our care. We have clear protocols in place to ensure the safety of all our residents and care home teams.

Click on the categories below to find out more about the latest updates and guidance on our services, how they are affected by COVID-19 and the steps we are taking to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those we care for and our colleagues on the frontline. You will also find a list of resources at the bottom of the page, as well as useful website links relating to COVID-19.


Protect-Icon.jpg  Protecting residents and team members

We would like to share with you the measures Excelcare has in place to ensure that residents and care home teams are kept safe and well.

It is extremely important to us that our colleagues on the frontline are following the most up to date Government guidance on wearing PPE and we have been monitoring our stock levels continuously; ensuring PPE has been available for all of our team members throughout the pandemic.

Any team members or visiting professionals who are working with residents are wearing face masks, and also wear gloves and aprons when providing close-contact support, for example, with personal care. Additional levels of PPE including face visors, goggles, gowns and overshoes are available in all of our care homes and are used in conjunction with the comprehensive risk assessments that are in place.

Our teams have each received full training on the use of PPE, and additional infection control training has also taken place. We will continue to provide refresher training on an ongoing basis to ensure our team are aware of the importance of the role they play in protecting against infectious diseases.

In advance of the virus landing in the UK, we had already sourced high stock level of PPE to be used in our home. We are proud to say that at no time has our home experienced a shortage of PPE, and we continue with healthy levels of stock at all times.

Throughout our services, there has been a focus on social distancing; where needed, some care homes have re-designed their lounge & dining spaces and created more space in communal areas. Our offices have also been realigned to enable everyone to socially distance and hand sanitising stations have been set up throughout all Excelcare locations for use by both employees and residents. We continue to ensure fresh air flow throughout our homes and in our offices as well.

Care and nursing team members have been closely monitoring the wellbeing of all residents and any changes in health & wellbeing are promptly escalated for further investigation. Our colleagues work closely with GPs, District Nurses, local hospitals and the out of hours services to ensure that they are able to access support and advice 24 hours a day. We also make full use of technology that enables advice to be sought without increasing the number of professional visitors who are travelling to our care homes; virtual GP rounds are now common practice.

Home-Icon.jpg  Visiting our care homes

This guidance reflects changes published by the Government on Wednesday 15th December 2021.

Visiting is still very much a part of care home life and the Excelcare team recognise the importance of visitors in maintaining the health and wellbeing of the people who live in our homes. Due to the updated guidance, we will need you to book your visit with the care home – these visits will be held in a person’s room or designated space – dependent on the person being visited. Please do not visit a care home if you are aware that you have been in close contact with COVID-19.

Our priority as ever remains the safety of the people who live and work in our homes, as well as keeping families & visitors as safe as possible. The registered manager of each care home remains responsible for implementing guidance on visiting in collaboration with Local Health Protection Teams and Infection Prevention and Control Leads.

Summary of guidance changes published 14th December 2021:

1.      People living in care homes will be allowed THREE named visitors who can visit regularly plus an essential care giver. These visits need to be booked with the care home team in advance. Only pre-school aged children will not be included in the number of visitors.

2.      People who are fully vaccinated and have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, do not need to quarantine if they receive a negative PCR test result and take daily rapid lateral flow tests until 10 days after their last exposure to the positive case.

3.      Visitors should not enter the care home if they are feeling unwell, even if they have tested negative for COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated and have received their booster. They should avoid the care home until at least 5 days after they feel better.

4.      People who live in the care home who have received at least 2 doses of the vaccine, or are exempt from vaccination, will not have to quarantine following most visits out of the care home, if they follow the correct testing regime. However, people who have not received at least 2 doses of the vaccine, and are not exempt from vaccination, should quarantine for 14 days following a visit out.

5.      Visitors are advised against visiting the care home (for 10 days) if they have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, unless absolutely necessary, even if they have been fully vaccinated. Where visits do occur, visitors should have received a negative PCR test result prior to their visit, and a negative lateral flow test result earlier in the day of their visit.

Further details of guidance changes are available below.

The government has now published the new guidance which includes the following important message:

People living in care homes are typically more vulnerable to severe illness as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). While vaccination is proving very effective, we are still seeing some cases of severe illness, hospitalisation and death of care home residents who have been vaccinated. Caution is advised as we learn more about real-world vaccine effectiveness and disease severity of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The guidance then details additional measures being taken to keep people who live and work in care homes as safe as possible:

Additional measures are in place to facilitate visiting while keeping care home team members and residents safe. These include:

·        limiting the number of visitors who can visit regularly

·        infection prevention and control (IPC) measures

·        individual risk assessments

·        testing arrangements

·        isolation on return from some high-risk activities out of the home

 

The key guidelines to be aware of when visiting a care home are:

·        Every care home resident can nominate up to 3 visitors who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits

·        This number does not include essential care givers and preschool age children. Please note this indicates a change to previous guidance, whereby children up to the age of 18 were not included within visitor numbers.

·        Visitors should make arrangements with care homes in advance of the visit. Please contact the care home by email or telephone to arrange your visit.

·        The duration of visits will be determined by the home and their ability to ensure safe visiting practice.

·        Visits should take place in a room most practical and comfortable for the resident (for example, residents with dementia may be more comfortable in their own room with familiar belongings)

·        Visitors should complete a lateral flow (LFD) test and report their negative result to the home on the day of their visit.

·        Essential care givers need to follow additional testing arrangements, and essential care givers will continue to be able to visit inside the care home, even during periods of outbreak affecting the care home.

·        Subject to a risk assessment by the health protection team (HPT), outbreak controls may be in place for up to 28 days following the last positive case especially as we learn more about real-world vaccine effectiveness and disease severity of the Omicron variant.

·        We recognise that physical contact can help everyone’s health and wellbeing, and as long as IPC measures are in place, such as visiting in a ventilated space, using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the visit, and hand washing before and after holding hands – gloves are not needed for handholding with stringent adherence to hand washing protocol.

·        Visitors should not enter the care home if they are feeling unwell, even if they have tested negative for COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated and have received their booster. Transmissible viruses such as flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and norovirus can be just as dangerous to care home residents as COVID-19. If visitors have any symptoms that suggest other transmissible viruses and infections, such as cough, high temperature, diarrhoea or vomiting, they should avoid the care home until at least 5 days after they feel better.

·        Visitors who are not legally required to self-isolate are advised against visiting the care home (for 10 days) if they have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, unless absolutely necessary, even if they have been fully vaccinated. Where visits do occur, visitors should have received a negative PCR test result prior to their visit, and a negative lateral flow test result earlier in the day of their visit.

 

Residents will be supported to undertake visits out of the care home as appropriate:

·        Residents who have received at least 2 doses of the vaccine, or are exempt from vaccination, will not have to quarantine following most visits out of the care home, if they follow the correct testing regime.

·        Residents who have not received at least 2 doses of the vaccine, and are not exempt from vaccination, should quarantine for 14 days following a visit out.

All residents should continue to quarantine following an emergency stay in hospital or if they test positive for COVID-19, or following a visit that has been deemed high-risk following an individual risk assessment by the care home.

Vaccination is one of our best defences to combat infection. The COVID-19 vaccine significantly reduces the transmission of infection, particularly after 2 or more doses. It is strongly recommended that residents and visitors receive 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, plus their booster especially in light of the emergence of the Omicron variant. The data shows that booster doses are required to provide higher levels of protection against symptomatic infection. If eligible, visitors should also get their flu jab when it is offered to them.

We understand that this could be an upsetting situation both for you and your loved ones, we are also sorry to note that restrictions are being strengthened in care homes, however we will continue to do all we can to accommodate visits across our homes based on government advice and will make this Christmas as special as we can despite any restrictions in place.

Our homes continue to offer a range of visiting options to people who are not fully vaccinated, such as outdoor visiting (weather permitting), or in a designated meeting space within the home. Visitor information will be obtained at the time of booking and must include each person’s telephone number.

Visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum (excluding essential care givers). Physical contact like handholding is okay so long as hand washing protocols are followed. Close personal contact, such as hugging, presents higher risks but will be safer without face-to-face contact, and if there is brief contact only.

In the event of an outbreak, we will work with the Local Health Protection teams. It’s likely that visiting could be stopped or curtailed – dependent on the level of the outbreak, local case numbers and other risk factors determined by the local leads in conjunction with the home. Typically, these restrictions should continue until the outbreak is confirmed as over.

Please note that as of 11 November 2021, anyone doing work or volunteering in a care home must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus (COVID-19), unless exempt. This includes Essential Care Givers.

For people unable to visit, we continue to support with many innovative methods to keep people in touch with loved ones; you can arrange a video call and for people who can’t visit, residents have enjoyed receiving handwritten notes and handmade gifts, which have helped to keep people in touch with each other and brought lots of joy to the people in the homes.

To stay up to date with your local care home’s visiting arrangements, we recommend following them on Facebook using the links below, or contacting the care home directly for advice.

Cambridge

Essex

London

Milton Keynes

Aliwal Manor Care Home

Abbot Care Home

Limetree Care Home

Castlemead Court Care Home

Brook House Care Home

Ashlyn Care Home

Park Avenue Care Home

Dovecote Manor Care Home

Buchan House Care Home

Goldenley Care Home

Peartree Care Home

Neath House Care Home

Etheldred House Care Home

Lime Court Care Home

Queens Oak Care Home

Water Hall Care Home

Fitzwilliam House Care Home

Longfield Care Home

Westport Care Home

The Willows Care Home

Glennfield Care Home

Okeley Care Home

Windmill Care Home

 

Hunters Down Care Home

Sherrell House Care Home

 

 

Primrose Croft Care Home

Stanley Wilson Lodge Care Home

 

 

Rheola Care Home

St Fillans Care Home

 

 

St Georges Court Care Home

Sweyne Court Care Home

 

 

 

Winifred Dell Care Home

 

 

 

We will regularly review our visiting policy and therefore welcome any feedback from your visits preferably by email, your feedback will help us to make any improvements needed.

Each of our care homes continue to communicate updates around COVID-19 with residents' nominated family members by telephone and email. If you would like to receive any further information, please contact the homes directly or our Quality team on cqt@excelcareholdings.com who will be happy to help you with any queries.

Kindly note that these new arrangements are subject to local IPC/PHE and local rates of covid including any surge testing. Any further relevant National guidance from the Government and Public Health England (PHE) when issued will override the guidance set out here.

Identify-Icon.jpg  Testing and confirmation of cases

Each of our homes are working with their local authority partners and Public Health England for continued COVID-19 testing for both residents and team members.

We have had residents in some of our care homes who have confirmed cases of COVID-19, many residents have recovered and very sadly we have had residents that have passed away as a result of the pandemic. Every one of these deaths is a very sad event for all of us and we send our sincerest condolences to any families and friends.

We recognise how important it is to ensure that you are aware of the situation regarding COVID-19 in our care home and will always ensure that you are kept well informed. Should our care home be impacted by COVID-19, you will be contacted and informed as soon as possible.

Should your loved one be directly affected by COVID-19, rest assured that we will call to discuss their situation with you as next of kin or LPA directly.

Vaccine-Icon.jpg  Vaccinations

In early 2021 the COVID-19 vaccine was rolled out across the UK.  We are incredibly thankful for the vaccination programme as it has allowed people to feel safer, and limitations of visiting to ease, allowing families see more of each other.

While having the vaccine has helped many people to feel safer, we remain patient and vigilant in ensuring that the safety of the people living and working in our care home is our top priority as we continue to follow government guidance on visiting during the pandemic. We understand that continuing to follow strict infection prevention and control guidelines is important.

Strict approval processes mean that all approved vaccines have met strict safety standards and these remain our best defence against the virus. Getting vaccinated means gaining a higher level of protection from the virus and helping to protect those most vulnerable.

The Home Manager will be happy to help with any questions you may have by telephone or email.

Click here to view our fact sheet of frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine in practice.

Care-Icon.jpg  Our high standard of care

We are ensuring that the care that we give is maintained to the high standard that we all expect. Regulators are carrying out focussed inspections in homes, around Infection Control and key areas of the Key Lines of Enquiry – Well Led and Safe, these inspections are more targeted and focussed for the time being. All inspection teams are required to be temperature checked, complete the health questionnaire, use PPE and to follow hand washing and sanitising guidelines for the duration of the inspection.
 

Quality assurance is at the heart of our commitment to delivering the highest standards of care and a quality of life to all our residents. Our internal quality governance framework helps our team at all levels to drive improvement which deliver better outcomes for those in our care.
 

In addition, we are in frequent communication with the Care Quality Commission (the Care Regulator) and other external agencies to advise them of the steps we are taking. Alongside this we are continuing to hold frequent socially distanced resident meetings, to ensure that the people who live in each of our care homes are heard, their suggestions listened to and that they are able to tell us how they are feeling, if they are able.

Guidance-Icon.jpg  Guidance for residents, families and team members

You may have seen some worrying media coverage about how some care homes in the UK have been affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has caused some very understandable anxiety for people whose relatives lives in a care home or for people who find themselves in need of a care home for themselves or a loved one.

We take the safety and wellbeing of the people who live and work in our care homes very seriously, and ensuring people remain as safe and supported as possible has always been our top priority; even before the pandemic.

To help you to learn more about life in our care homes during COVID-19, we have produced a series of case studies, guidance and general resources around any changes that residents and their loved ones may experience.

Wellbeing-Icon.jpg  Lifestyle and wellbeing of residents

An important part of living in our care homes is being able to socialise and enjoy physical, mental, spiritual and cultural activity that is vital for overall health and wellbeing.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, internal activities organised by our Lifestyle Coordinators have continued to take place, however, visitors from local community groups and entertainers have been limited. As lockdown is slowly lifting and life begins to return to normal, we are taking small steps towards reintroducing entertainment into our homes. All activities will be based on careful risk assessments, all of which will adhere to social distancing guidelines, hosting outdoor entertainment, going for local walks and welcoming groups from the community once more.

Our care homes currently have a revised weekly activity plan in place. These include new ways of keeping everyone active, including a number of virtual activities and entertainment sessions, whilst ensuring that the group activities are smaller, adhering to physical distancing advice and that cleanliness routines are implemented.

Our team members who specialise in Lifestyle and Wellbeing have been vigilant to ensure that nobody feels isolated, by working hard to provide additional one to one support to people who have remained in their rooms.

Tech-Icon.jpg  Connecting through technology

Each of our 33 care homes have Wi-Fi available and have been provided with new technology including tablets and dedicated mobile phones, making it easier for friends and relatives of the people living in the homes to continue socialising with their loved ones by phone, video calls and online messaging. We have produced accessible guidance on the use of tablets and technology to keep the people living in our care homes connected with their loved ones and to ensure they are kept occupied and entertained during this difficult time.

Our care home has Wi-Fi available and also utilises tablets and dedicated mobile phones daily, making it easier for friends and relatives of the people who live here to continue socialising with their loved ones by phone, video calls and online messaging. We have produced accessible guidance on the use of tablets and technology to keep the people living in our care homes connected with their loved ones and to ensure each person is kept occupied and entertained during this difficult time.

We also have an interactive touch-screen activity table which helps to enhance our activities and boost wellbeing. Specially designed for care homes, our activity table is portable allowing it to be easily moved from room to room, and provides a mixture of fun, learning, music, films, nostalgia, sensory activities and games. Our activity table provides daily entertainment and stimulation to the people who live here.

Team-Icon.jpg  The wellbeing of our colleagues

Over the last year, the generosity and wealth of support from families, friends and local small businesses to the care homes has been outstanding. Our care homes have regularly received donations ranging from homemade scrubs, cakes, boxes of doughnuts and chocolates to pizzas from the local take away. These unexpected, but much appreciated gifts have gone a long way to lift spirits and have also served as a reminder that the care home teams are very much appreciated and loved by local communities.

We have fantastic people working hard throughout the Excelcare Group. All professional, skilled, dedicated and compassionate people who place individual care at the heart of what they do. We are truly proud of how everyone has worked so hard and remained so positive throughout these uncertain times, working together as a team and using their expertise, kindness and caring approaches to support the people who live in our care homes.

Thank you to everyone who has written to us to thank our brilliant team for the amazing work they have put in to keep your loved ones safe in these challenging times.

We strive to ensure that all comments left through social media, emails and reviews are fed back to our teams, and each one is so greatly appreciated by all of our team members. In these tough times, it is important now more than ever to be kind and appreciative, and we are endlessly grateful for the endeavours of our teams , and it means a lot to know that you all are too.

At Excelcare, we see our partnership with residents, their loved ones and our colleagues as a family and we pride ourselves on our dedicated team members who are carefully selected, not only for their experience and skills but, just as importantly, their caring natures, passion and values which complement and match our own. Watching them endeavour to provide the highest standard of care during these unprecedented times has lifted our spirits immensely and we appreciate their hard work dearly.

If you have had a great experience, please feel welcome to leave us a review on Google, carehome.co.uk, or your local care home’s Facebook page.

In order to ensure that our team members have the support they need to continue their dedicated work we have been listening to understand how the impact of COVID-19 is affecting their lives and taking positive steps to help them to feel supported and reassured.

Support-Icon.jpg  Supporting our dedicated teams

As a family-run company, we consider our team members as extended family members. We are all individuals and as such we should endeavour to value the differences that make each of us unique.

During these unprecedented times, we understand that some of our colleagues may find themselves experiencing new or old concerns resurfacing due to the impact COVID-19 has on their lives. We at Excelcare are aware of the significance of living and working with the threat of COVID-19 and how this situation may impact our mental health and wellbeing by requiring us as a society to think and work differently. None of us know when this pandemic will pass or if it will ever pass enough for it to become a memory.

With this in mind, we as a group felt it important to gather information and resources to support each of our team members during these unprecedented times. We have gathered a host of information and made this available to each of our team members, to serve as a learning tool and reminder to look after themselves and each other. These wellbeing resources are sorted into five categories; Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give which follow the ‘Five Ways of Wellbeing’.

The wellbeing and mental health of our team members is incredibly important to us. Due to restrictions on face to face training, MHFA England has launched their Mental Health First Aider course virtually and we are now offering this within the organisation to support our colleagues.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised training course, designed to teach people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first aid basis.

The role of our Mental Health First Aiders in the workplace is to be a point of contact for employees who are experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. This interaction could range from having an initial conversation through to supporting the person to get appropriate help. Mental Health first aiders are not trained to be therapists or psychiatrists but they can offer initial support through non-judgemental listening and guidance.

Support has also been made available to our teams through a central COVID-19 support helpline and email, monitored by our dedicated COVID-19 support team to provide reassurance and assistance should they feel overwhelmed or have any questions they would like to ask.

Rainbow-Icon.jpg  Our 'Rainbow of Hope' and the Excelcare Rainbow Fund

The Excelcare Rainbow FundDuring this pandemic, many of our Excelcare team members have been on the frontline, supporting some of the most vulnerable in society and keeping them in good spirits. Their hard work, commitment and caring approach has not wavered, and many have gone above and beyond their roles to keep people supported. In light of this, the senior management team announced an increase rate in pay for these frontline workers and set up 'The Rainbow Fund', to raise some money and provide them with a thank you gift.

With an initial target of £15,000, The Rainbow Fund was shared far and wide to gather support, with many donations from families and friends of our care homes, their communities and also Excelcare support office team members, who were keen to support their colleagues on the frontline.

In addition to our GoFundMe page, efforts were also seen from within Excelcare, with a successful raffle being held, raising £698 and Excelcare’s own Head of Financial Operations, Steve Parker, cycling 437 kilometres with his family to raise an incredible £1,195! Before long, we had surpassed our target, raising a massive £20,000 in total!

Our Chairman, Ozzie, had originally pledged to match the amount raised, but after seeing the overwhelming generosity and support from everyone who donated, he decided to treble our total so that all of Excelcare’s frontline team members could receive a gift card to thank them for their incredible work during such unprecedented times.

We are overwhelmed and incredibly grateful for the kind messages and donations received. The money raised was used to gift each team member with a gift voucher, as a thank you for their help and support during these uncertain times. Our annual Staff Appreciation Week was celebrated across the Excelcare group from August 17th-21st, and presented the perfect opportunity to combine celebrations and praise with these gift tokens as well as additional gifts to show our gratitude to our team members for their incredible efforts.

While these have indeed been difficult times, we are proud that our colleagues have not only received an overwhelming amount of support from the community through many generous donations and good deeds, but have also been there to support each other and succeeded in taking something positive from their situations. To spread some joy and inspiration, we decided we needed to shout it from the rooftops. Created by the Excelcare family, our music video, ‘Rainbow of Hope’, features our colleagues from each of Excelcare’s services, passing on messages of love, encouragement and support to one another by sharing words describing their positive experiences during the pandemic.

The inspirational song used for this video was written by our very own Chief Operating Officer, Sam Manning, with our ‘Care Home Superheroes’ in mind. Please listen, enjoy, reflect and share with your friends and families in appreciation of all the amazing and brave roles our frontline colleagues have taken on during these unprecedented times. We hope that this video brings a smile to your face and hope for brighter days ahead.

 

 

If you have any questions relating to our approach to COVID-19, or would like to request any further information, please email our dedicated team at covid19helpline@excelcareholdings.com.

To see the latest Government issued information relating to COVID-19, please click here, or to view the latest advice issued by Public Health England please click here.

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