Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Keeping families up to date

REF: COVID-19 – Group update

As a company we remain committed to updating you about our homes during the Covid-19 outbreak. This page shows all of the historical group communication that has taken place over this period. If you have any questions or require specific information on this, please email covid19enquiry@countrycourtcare.com

Due to the fast-moving nature of the situation the best way to do this is via email and the majority of our communication has been coming in this format. Going forward, we will be moving to email-only updates. If you have not received any email correspondence from us over the past month, it is likely that we do not have your email address on record. To update these details please email marketing@countrycourtcare.com with the following information:

  • Care home your relative lives in
  • Name of your relative
  • Email address to be added

If you have been receiving the email correspondence there is no need to contact us.

Email dated 2nd December 2020

An update on visiting guidelines

Many of you may have seen the news from the Government about rapid testing being available to visitors of care homes across the country. While on the surface this is good news, we are approaching it with caution for several reasons.

As has happened throughout this pandemic, the concept has been announced before the structure to deliver it is in place; at this time we don’t have the test kits for the majority of our homes and are unsure when we will receive them. The reliability of these tests has also been queried in many places, with reports that around 1 in 10 positive cases can be missed. This is highly concerning, as allowing just one positive person into our homes can have grave consequences. Some Local Authorities are saying that they cannot be used by homes in their area due to this.

With this in mind, testing visitors is an added tool in the fight against Covid-19 but is not a failsafe option to preventing its spread. We will include the testing as part of our visiting procedures when available, but feel it is important to continue with our current visiting guidelines, socially distanced, taking place behind screens. We have had good feedback from how these visits are working and must continue to take a safety first approach. With the approval of the vaccine today, there is hope that this will be just a short period until we can start to return to normality again.

Visiting guidelines over the Christmas period

We have had many questions about visiting over the Christmas period. We are conscious of how important these celebrations are for you and your loved ones, but also need to be aware that the risk of Covid-19 remains as high during this period as any other. With so many people to look after in each home, as well as a range of factors to consider, it will sadly prove impossible to make the perfect arrangements for everyone. We have debated every option available and have tried to come up with the fairest solution, while considering it is imperative that we continue to follow the safety measures, whatever day of the year it is.

On Christmas Day we allow visits in the same manner as we are doing currently, as above. We will increase the number of people per visit to 2, but due to the nature of these visits, they will unfortunately only be available in limited numbers. Sadly, this means not everyone will be able to visit on Christmas Day. We ask, for this year only, that everyone is as flexible as they can be with when they visit and celebrate Christmas with our residents on a day other than 25th December. We will of course do our best to ensure that every resident gets a visit when requested during this period, please contact the home your relative is in directly to arrange these.

This year, we will be unable to have relatives dining with us on Christmas Day. We can allow residents to leave to go to families houses during this period, but on their return to the home they must isolate for 14 days. To be on the safe side, this would be the case if they leave for the day or overnight. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please contact your Home Manager.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, we are constantly having to adapt and make the best of each situation. While this Christmas won’t be the same, we will do everything we can to ensure your relatives have an enjoyable and joyous time, full of love and care. On the 25th December it will be Christmas Day for everyone, including our incredibly hard-working staff, and we will celebrate in the best way we can.

Covid-19 contact details

As of today, our dedicated Covid-19 telephone number and email address will no longer be in use, due to lack of demand. If you have any questions or requirements, please contact the home your loved one is in directly and they would be happy to help. We know the phones at our homes can get busy, so please bear with us while we try to help everyone and please email if your query isn’t urgent.

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Communications between 11th November and 2nd December were sent on an individual home level, to explain specific visiting guidelines for each home, so not all are able to be documented here. If you require a copy of these please email marketing@countrycourtcare.com 

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Email dated 11th November 2020

Following on from our communication last week, I am able to provide a further update to the visiting procedure to our homes. We are currently awaiting the delivery of screens to each of our homes, to facilitate visits safely. We expect to have delivery dates for every home in the next couple of days and it is at that point we will be able to start taking bookings for visits. I know everyone is eager to arrange these and I apologise that we cannot do so today.

In the meantime, you can view the visiting guidelines here. Please take some time to familiarise yourself with these, as it is important that these are followed, for the interest of safety and enjoyment of everyone. For those of you who visited before, the process is similar, with some changes to note. The most significant of these is that we are only able to allow one person per visit, as per the government guidance. This guidance also suggests that this should be the same person for each visit. We know how restrictive this will be for some families, so are allowing flexibility for a different person to visit each week if required. All other measures we have implemented are as per the Government guidance.

We know that these visits may take some time to get used to, but we are extremely pleased to be welcoming you back into our homes. We will be writing to each home individually with dates of visits available.

Email dated 6th November 2020

Following the announcement of the updated government guidance to care homes, we are pleased that we will be able to arrange safe visits to our homes. The news has come as a welcome surprise, which I am sure you all share.

After the announcement we have received the government guidance and are working through this to ensure it is in line with our suggestions. Once this has been done, we will send out individual visiting information for each of our homes. We will be using a similar process as before, including a managed booking system and restricted numbers of visitors, alongside added precautions such as screen dividers. This means that visits will be different to normal, even compared to the summer period. It may feel strange at first and will take some getting used to, but everything we implement will be to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones. We must stress that if there are any positive cases of Covid-19 in a home (or concerns over a potential one) that the home will be closed to visitors until it is clear.

We look forward to updating you next week early next week with further news. I know there will be many questions, so if you need any clarification please do contact us on the details below.

Email dated 2nd November 2020

Following our most recent correspondence we had promised as a company to find ways that each of our homes would be able to facilitate visitors over the winter in a safe and secure manner. We had been due to write to you with plans for these, however news of the new lockdown measures being imposed from Thursday has forced us to review our own restrictions. As with the tiered guidance, any rulings from this supersedes our own decisions and is something we must all abide by.

We are still awaiting the full guidance for visits in care homes, which we expect to be announced on Thursday. We are expecting that visits will be restricted, in line with the wider guidance around England. In the event that we are allowed visits, we will be ready to communicate to you our safe visiting plans following extensive work in preparing each of our homes. As of today, each home has its own tailored solution, alongside full risk assessments and precautions, which we had been planning to implement from next week. Nevertheless, we will continue to complete our works so that when visits are approved by the government, there will be no delays in allowing these. We are still able to grant visits from next of kins who’s loved one is reaching the end of their journey with us, as we always have done throughout this period.

Having been so patient over the past few months and had to endure so many changes, I know how hard this is for you all. We share your frustrations, particularly around the timing, as we had not been expecting this decision. However, we understand the reason for it and as cases continue to grow around the country, we must double our efforts to protect the most vulnerable people.

One thing that I know will be on everyones minds is the Christmas period and how this will work with seeing your loved ones. At the moment, this is unclear not just in our care homes, but across every part of the country. This means right now we cannot offer any concrete details of what will be possible, until we have a better idea of the government guidance. I know many of our residents like to leave our homes visit their families over the Christmas period. While we are usually happy for this, I think this year it is important to prepare for the likelihood that this may not be able to happen. What we can do is reassure you that if we are allowed to have visits to our homes, we will do everything we can to make them work for everyone around the Christmas period.

Once we have a better understanding of the situation, we will write to you again. I know there will be many questions, so if you need any clarification please do contact us on the details below.

Email dated 9th October 2020

On the 23rd September, we wrote to you to advise of a change in our visiting guidelines, strongly discouraging visits across our homes. I wanted to write to you all personally, to thank you for understanding and the support you have provided for this decision, helping us to keep your relatives safe and well.

The decision to restrict visits was made on a two-week basis and as we come to the end of that period, we have again reviewed this situation. The increase in cases around the country is alarming and our regular testing cycle has also picked up a small number of positive cases in a handful of our homes. Therefore, at this time, we feel it is best to continue with the current arrangements and extend the restrictions for another two weeks. It is important to remember that throughout the pandemic we have seen that actions taking place today often don’t have an impact until several days down the line. With this in mind, we know whatever we do now is vitally important for our residents' health in the coming weeks, which means for now we must continue to remain cautious and monitor the situation.

As we move to the winter months, Coronavirus shows no sign of abating and we must live with it as best we can. We are confident that we can do this in our homes and continue to keep your loved one safe and well. How we then facilitate regular visits alongside this is proving a challenge, as we are acutely aware of the risks involved with this. However, we understand how important it is for you to see your loved ones and we are working tirelessly to review the options available to provide safe and secure visits at our homes. As the stakes are so high we need to get this right, which may take some time, but rest assured that we will do everything we can to make the most of the situation.

We will continue to keep you updated with the developments and changes in our homes and advise you of all information as quickly and clearly as possible. Most people in our homes have more than one relative and we can’t reach them all by email, so please do forward these onto friends and family who would like to see the update aswell. Should you have a question on a specific home, please call that home directly in the first instance. If you have any other queries, you can contact us on our Coronavirus-specific details below.

Email dated 23th September 2020

We have been pleased to welcome back visitors to all of our homes and had hoped that this would be the start of returning to a normal routine. Unfortunately, following the recent change in government guidance, we have had to review the current arrangements. While we currently have no residents in our homes who are Covid-19 positive, the rising infection rates in the wider community are a cause for concern and we feel it is best to strongly discourage visits to all of our homes at this time.

We understand that everyone wants to see their loved ones but would ask for a short time that you refrain from doing so. We will continue to work tirelessly to protect your loved ones from the virus and we need your help to do the same. As difficult as it is, the best way for you to do this is by staying away for a short period. Throughout this pandemic we have acted early and decisively, which has allowed us to minimise the spread of infection in our homes. We are doing the same in this instance and hope you understand that it is in the best interests of everyone in our care, as well as you as their relatives.

Visits that are booked for this week will be allowed to continue, but we will be unable to take any other bookings. Friday (25th September) will be the last day of visits and any bookings from this Saturday (26th September) onwards will be cancelled as standard. We understand that some people may have been waiting a long time for a booked visit, so if you have an important reason for visiting your relative, we will review these on a case by case basis. We will try our best to facilitate essential visits but in most instances these will not be possible.

To request a visit, please contact the home your loved one is in and request the reason for the visit. This will then be escalated to the Senior Management team at Country Court to review whether we can arrange the visit. Please note that this may take up to 48 hours, depending on the situation. We understand there may be urgent reasons for a visit, which your Home Managers will be able to facilitate quickly and sensitively if required.

We know this is not an easy situation and we hope that it is only a short-term measure. Our plan is to implement these measures for an initial 2 week period from Saturday, but will be guided by the wider situation across the UK. If we can open up sooner, of course we will, but equally if the risk to our residents is still too high, we will need to remain closed.

Our fantastic teams across all of our homes will continue to provide the best possible care to everyone who lives with us, as well as any support that you need. Video calls will be available as before and can be booked directly with each Home and we will endeavor to keep you as up to date as possible through all channels, including our Facebook pages.  As always, should there be any changes or developments in the home your relative lives in we will inform you as soon as we can. If you have any specific questions, please contact your Home Manager in the first instance, as they are the most likely to be able to help. If you have any other questions, you can still contact us on the dedicated Covid-19 details below.

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Communications between 13th August and 23rd September were sent on an individual home level, so are not all able to be documented here.

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Letter dated 13th August 2020

Visiting to our homes reopened on Monday 27th July and it has been heartwarming to see the many reunions taking place across the country. You and your families are such a big part of life in our homes and your return has provided a big boost to our residents.

While we are delighted to have you back, we must still strike a note of caution with the visits. We have started to see spikes of the virus in many places across the country (and the world) and we have to be extremely careful that this does not impact our homes. It is vitally important that every visit follows the guidelines that we have put together, which I have attached again for reference.

We know these visits are different to previously, but the measures we have put into place are key to keeping your loved ones safe. In particular, the correct PPE must be worn at all times (especially a mask) and we have to adhere to social distancing rules at all times. I know this can be difficult – we all want to hug our loved ones, especially after not seeing them for such a long period – but we have to respect the potential danger of doing so. For anyone ignoring the rules, they are not only putting themselves and their relative in danger, but a whole home of potentially vulnerable people.

Thank you to everyone who has followed the guidelines and has visited safely and happily. We hope you have enjoyed returning to our homes and everyone is so pleased to have you back. We feel that the process has worked well so far and it will continue to operate along these lines over the next few weeks. We understand that times have been limited to see your relatives and we thank you all for respecting this, to allow everyone in the home to have these important visits. We will continue to monitor the process and when the time is right will allow visits to open up on a wider scale. As we have done throughout this pandemic, it is best to err on the side of caution to keep everyone safe and our homes Covid-19 free.

As always, should there be any changes or developments in the home your relative lives in we will inform you as soon as we can. If you have any specific questions, please contact your Home Manager in the first instance, as they are the most likely to be able to help. If you have any other questions, you can still contact us on the dedicate Covid-19 details below.

Letter dated 20th July 2020

I am pleased to be writing to you all to confirm that we will be able to provisionally open our homes to visitors from Monday 27th July. These visits will be on a limited, booking-only basis and will be carefully managed to ensure the safety of our residents and staff, aswell as yourselves.

We have put together guidelines for visiting your loved ones, which I have attached to this email. This contains all of the information you need, so please read these through fully to understand how the visits will work. Once you have done so, bookings can be made by contacting the Care Home directly, by telephone or email. We will be taking bookings from today, for visits to commence from Monday 27th July.

We are extremely pleased to be able to open our doors again but will be approaching visits with caution for the first few weeks. This is a completely new process for everyone and will take some time to run smoothly. We will be aiming to get things right as quickly as possible, as we know how important it is for our residents to see loved ones, but please bear with us in the initial stages as we work to ensure the safety of everyone. All of our homes remain Covid-19 free at this time and all of the measures we have implemented for these visits are designed to keep it that way. This means that visits will be different to before, but we hope you understand why.

As we mentioned in our previous correspondence, we have worked hard to implement new measures to allow visits to take place. To help you understand these, we have put together the attached booklet ‘Our commitment to your safety’ which outlines the changes we have made during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our aim is to arrange visits on a limited basis initially, to manage the process correctly and safely. Once we have this right after the first few weeks, we hope that we will then be able to open up on a wider scale. Equally, we will monitor the situation and if there are any concerns around visiting then we will reduce or postpone them until we feel it is safe to resume. As I am sure you will understand, if we do have a positive case of Covid-19 in a home, we will be unable to accept any visitors at all. We will continue to review the situation and keep you updated with any changes.

Chiropodists have now returned to each of our homes and we will also be allowing the return of hairdressers from the end of this week. I know that will please many of our residents! Initially, this will be on a 2 week cycle for each home and each hairdresser will follow strict guidelines, including wearing full PPE and being subject to regular testing cycles. This has been working well for Chiropody and we welcome another small change in the gradual return to normality for our homes.

As always, should there be any changes or developments in the home your relative lives in we will inform you as soon as we can. If you have any specific questions, please contact your Home Manager in the first instance, as they are the most likely to be able to help. If you have any other questions, you can still contact us on the dedicate Covid-19 details below.

Updated actions since letter dated 3rd July 2020

As promised in our last correspondence, we have today reviewed our visiting policy in line with the wider situation in the UK. Following extensive consultation with all of our homes, we have decided that we will aim to open to visits from Monday 27th July.

We understand that many of you hoped that we would be able to grant visits earlier, but we have made this decision for several reasons. The recent spike in localised infection rates is worrying and we are concerned that this will only continue as lockdown is relaxed further. We feel that it is important to continue to monitor this for the next 2 weeks to ensure these increases do not pose a danger to our residents. Our initial plan had been to arrange garden visits for residents, but the feedback we received from relatives was that logistically this would not work for many residents, particularly those who are living with dementia or restricted in their mobility. Outdoor visits are obviously weather dependent and can only happen in certain conditions, especially for many of the vulnerable people living in our homes.

Therefore, it was felt that we need to be able to provide areas within our homes as an option for visiting. Currently we are not quite ready to do this, so need this period to make proper arrangements for these visits. This will ensure they are as best set up to restrict potential spread of the virus. Each home will be completely risk-assessed and reviewed, which includes the arrangement (and in some cases the development of) safe spaces, reviewing social distancing measures and ensuring we can follow full infection control procedures. We will also be installing thermal-imaging machines at the entrance to each of our homes, to measure the body temperature of every visitor. We feel this is a key tool in potential detection of the virus and it is important that we have these installed before opening our doors. Visits will be on a pre-booked basis only, we will not be taking bookings for visits yet but will be in touch shortly to explain how this can be done.

We are now working to implement all of these measures in preparation for 27th July. We are optimistic that we will be able to open from this date, but, as with everything during this pandemic, our decision will be made in the best interests of those in our care. After all the hard work to protect them, we do not want to put any of your loved ones at risk, which is why we have made the decision to take these extra few weeks to ensure visits can be conducted safely.

We have been able to allow the return of Chiropody to our homes, as this is a vital medical arrangement for our residents. As these are being undertaken by one Practitioner per home and all Practitioners are subject to regular testing, we are able to manage this process safely. We are continuing with our cycle of testing for residents and staff and I’m pleased to say that we remain Covid-19 free across all of our homes. Should there be any developments of Covid-19 in the home your relative lives in we will inform you as soon as we can.

Letter dated 17th June 2020

Over the last two weeks we have completed testing of all our residents and staff for both viral (current) and antibody (historical) infection of Covid-19. It is with great pleasure that I am able to say, as of today 17th June, we currently have no positive cases of Covid-19 in any of our care homes.

This is fantastic news and a credit to the hard work and efforts of our staff to protect our residents. This of course doesn’t mean the threat of Covid-19 has ended and we will remain diligent to its potential dangers. We are fully aware of how quickly things can change, particularly with the easing of lockdown restrictions and the potential threat of a second wave of the virus.

It is with this in mind that we have reviewed our visiting policy and for the time-being all of our homes will still be closed to visitors. As some aspects of life are starting to return to normal, it remains to be seen how this may impact future infection rates of Covid-19. With the people in our care so vulnerable to the virus, we feel the most sensible course of action is to monitor any developments over the next 2 weeks and review our policy in line with this. At that point, should the infection rate remain low and the risks reduced, we will look to implement socially distanced garden visits for our homes. If there are any further concerns over the safety of these visits then it is likely we will remain closed until we can completely satisfy these. If a home does have a positive case of Covid-19, we will be unable to accommodate visits.

We have had several enquiries about visits over the last two weeks and I know how much you are all missing your loved ones, so I want to assure you that this decision has only been made in their best interests. Contact with loved ones is important for all of our residents, but only if it does not put them at any risk. It is vitally important that we do not relax our measures too early, as this will undo all of the good work we have undertaken to protect your relatives. By being patient and waiting a little longer we can ensure we start to return to normal in the safest possible manner. I thank you once again for bearing with us as we work together to put our residents safety first.

As part of the potential changes, we are looking to restart Chiropody visits in all of our homes from 1st July onwards. These will be undertaken by one Practitioner per home, in a designated safe area, using PPE and following safe infection control. All Practitioners will be subjected to testing on a regular basis and will not visit any homes with positive cases of Covid-19.

Alongside this, we are continuing to run 2 weekly cycles of testing for both staff and residents where required. If you would like a specific update on testing in the home that your loved one lives in, please contact the home directly and they can advise of the current situation. Should there be any developments of Covid-19 in the home your relative lives in we will inform you as soon as we can.

Updated actions since letter dated 2nd June 2020

Following the relaxing of lockdown rules in England on 1st June, we felt it was important to confirm that our no-visitor policy will remain in place across all of our care homes at this time. While the Government changed the guidance for people in the shielded group, they stated that the instructions to care homes has not changed and the advice to not visit still stands. Our no-visitor policy will continue alongside these guidelines.

As the rules change in other parts of life we understand that the desire to visit your loved ones becomes even stronger and it is our aim to allow visits as soon as we are safely able to do so. However, this will only be the case when we are sure the risks to our residents are minimised, as we are conscious that due to the vulnerability of the people in our care any decisions taken in haste now could have a terrible impact later down the line. I’m sure you will understand our thinking behind this and we appreciate the patience and support that you have all given us throughout the Covid-19 outbreak. As always, we will be reviewing our policy on a regular basis and are also looking at ways that we can safely re-instate resident services, such as hairdressing, chiropody and physios. Again, these will be looked at in-line with the government guidance and we will continue to keep you up to date on the changes. If you have any questions please contact us on the Covid-19 enquiry details below and we would be happy to help.

As part of our continued safety measures, we are conducting regular testing for both staff and residents. The 2 forms of testing available are viral swab (to test for current infection) and antibody (to test for previous infection). The viral swab tests come from CQC and Public Health England and we are dependent on when they arrive to each home, which means tests are taking place at different times across our homes. The antibody tests have been purchased by Country Court privately and have been supplied to our homes, but these can only take place once the viral swab tests have been completed.

As of 5pm on Monday 1st June we have completed the following tests:

 

Viral Tests

Antibody Tests

Residents

1130

633

Staff

2089

1576

We are continuing to complete the testing for residents and the completion of these will depend on when the remaining viral swab tests are delivered to us from Public Health England. If you would like a specific update on the home that your loved one lives in, please contact the home directly and they can advise of the current situation. Testing for staff remains ongoing and will be taking place on 2 weekly cycles.

Letter dated 26th May 2020

In our email on 12th May we explained that we were undertaking comprehensive Covid-19 testing for all staff and residents. The 2 forms of testing available are viral swab (to test for current infection) and antibody (to test for previous infection).

As part of our policy, we have arranged antibody testing for all staff across our homes. As this comes to completion, we will be moving to testing all residents for Covid-19 antibodies, to understand if there have been any previously unidentified cases. Everyone in our care will receive an antibody test dependent on the result of their initial viral swab test. If there is any reason you would not want your relative to receive this test, please reply to this email and we will happily discuss with you.

The process for testing is as follows:

  • All residents in the home to undertake viral swab tests, which will identify whether they are currently positive for Covid-19. As these tests come from CQC and Public Health England, we are dependent on when they arrive to each home, which means they are taking place at different times and speeds across the group. Many have been completed already, but if your relative has not yet been tested it means we are still waiting for the kits to arrive at their home to do so. We are chasing these on a daily basis to complete as quickly as possible.
  • All residents who receive a negative result are to undertake antibody tests. This will identify if they have previously had a positive case of Covid-19. We have purchased these tests privately and they are now available at all of our homes. This is a blood test, which is conducted as a finger prick. These tests will only be undertaken for residents that have received negative viral swab tests.

We are aiming to complete all testing as quickly as possible, but the timeframes for each home will differ depending on when the viral swab tests are received. We are committed to keeping you updated as a Group and will confirm when testing is completed across all of our homes. If you would like a specific update on the home that your loved one lives in, please contact the home directly and they can advise of the current situation.

Letter dated 12th May 2020

On 10th May, the Government announced a change in guidance for the lockdown rules in England. Following this, we have reviewed our visitors policy across our homes and have decided that that the restrictions will remain in place for the time being. As we have regularly communicated, we have managed to limit cases of Covid-19 in the majority of our homes and feel the measures we have imposed have worked well. While we feel that the peak of the virus has now past, we cannot be too careful and it is too early to lift visiting restrictions while there is still a major risk of infection to people in our care. We are also acutely aware that a situation like this can change quickly and at any moment. Therefore, at this time, we are not in a position to say when we will be able to lift our visiting policy but will continue to monitor the situation on a week by week basis. Rest assured that we want you to be able to visit your relative as soon as its safely possible.

To help with this process, I am pleased to confirm that we are now rolling out mass testing of staff and residents across all of our homes. The following testing will be taking place:

  • Viral tests – testing for current infection.

We have secured a large supply of Viral test kits from CQC for all of our homes. This is a swab to test whether someone is currently positive for Covid-19. All residents and staff will be tested.

  • Antibody tests – testing for any cases of previous infection.

We have privately sourced and purchased these kits. This is a blood test and will confirm whether someone has previously been infected with Covid-19. This will be used to test all staff across the company.

We expect to start both forms of testing in the next few days, to be largely completed by the end of next week. Our current data shows that around 40% of positive cases of Covid-19 are A-Symptomatic, so this testing will be an important step to ensure we get a clear picture of the situation in each of our homes. In line with increased testing, we are expecting positive cases to rise exponentially, across staff and residents. On paper, this may look concerning but we are well prepared to deal with the situation and having clear information on each person will further help us manage the health of our residents. It is also the aim that it will help speed up the process of our homes returning to normal operation at a time safe to do so.

Letter dated 23rd April 2020

There has been a lot of attention on Care Homes during the Covid-19 outbreak in recent weeks and many of the headlines have focused on the difficulties they are facing. Across Country Court, our homes are facing many challenges but we felt it was important to re-assure you that the current picture painted by the media is not reflected across our homes.

In my email on 14th April I mentioned that we currently care for around 1500 residents across our 32 care homes and have had only a handful of positive Covid-19 cases, with the large majority of our homes having had none at all. This continues to be true today and while we have had a small increase in cases, they have remained a low number and do not reflect the figures being reported elsewhere. We remain committed to keeping you as up to date as possible and where we have had homes with a positive case, have written to all next of kin to advise them. If you have not received a letter, this is because the home your relative lives in has remained virus free. Our heart goes out to any home suffering with Coronavirus but we felt it was important to show the other side of the story, how dedicated staff and good infection control practices are working to keep the virus under control. 

Testing for Covid-19 has now been made available to any residents who are showing symptoms and we have been utilising this facility where necessary. Last week, the Government announced that all social care staff would have access to local testing facilities operated by CQC. Initially, this is only available to those who are self-isolating due to themselves or a family member having symptoms, as well as anyone who starts to show indications of the virus. Again we have been utilising these tests where available. Both of these measures are a step in the right direction and we hope to see further extensions of this in the coming weeks.

Our policies regarding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that were implemented on 7th April remain in place and we have sufficient supplies to keep our homes well stocked. We felt it was important that you are aware that we have no concerns about maintaining this supply, in contrary to reports that you may have seen from others in the industry.

We are still operating a no-visitor policy and this will continue throughout the lockdown phase. It is again at this point that I have to thank you for the support you have shown during this period, as I know it can’t be easy for any of you. We remain committed to keeping you as updated as possible on news of your loved one, not just through these writings but via our Facebook pages, through our ‘Keep in Touch’ postcards and of course via telephone and video calls whenever you need them. If you would like to speak to a person we care for, please contact the home directly and they would be happy to help.

Letter Sent 14th April 2020

Many of you will have seen the news today around Covid-19 in Care Homes, that has been reported as a ‘growing crisis’ in sector. This is understandably concerning for anyone who has family or friends in a care home, so we wanted to move to reassure you of the safety of your loved ones at Country Court.

As with everything at our homes, the health, safety and well-being of our residents is our number one priority. At the early stages of the Coronavirus pandemic we knew that this was something we needed to be extremely careful of, due to the vulnerable nature of the people we look after. This is why we moved quickly to restrict and eventually stop visits to our homes, aswell as ensuring our staff were fully supported to do the work they need to. We have made the necessary provisions to maintain a suitable supply of PPE equipment and continue to follow rigorous infection control procedures, to keep Coronavirus out of our homes as much as possible.

You will have seen some of the figures that are being talked about in the news around positive cases and deaths in care homes. These are high numbers and are obviously quite concerning, however we felt it was important that you were aware that these are not reflected in our homes at Country Court. Whilst it is impossible to be 100% protected from this virus, we currently care for around 1500 residents across our 32 care homes and have had only a handful of cases across these, with the large majority of our homes having had none at all. Of course any case that occurs is a concern, and any death that comes from it a tragedy, but we wanted to show you that the measures we are taking are working to keep your loved ones safe.

While we are currently unable to offer testing due to shortages, our aim is to constantly monitor staff and residents for any potential symptoms. We are also staying on top of any developments with Covid-19, so we are fully prepared for all future outcomes. As we speak, this is working well. Obviously this is a fast moving situation and things can change quickly, which is why we are remaining vigilant and working extremely hard to limit cases in our homes. We will continue to keep you updated on this and are here to answer any questions you have, so please do contact us on the details below should you need anything.

Letter Sent 9th April 2020

On 7th April, Public Health England updated their guidance for Care Homes during the Covid-19 outbreak. Until this point it has not been deemed necessary for staff to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to carry out their roles, however following the new guidelines we have updated working practices within all of our homes. These include:

  • All staff in the home will be required to wear masks, regardless of their role
  • All staff providing personal care will also be required to wear gloves and apron, even for residents who are not showing any symptoms
  • All residents returning from hospital are to be isolated for 14 days
  • If a resident is presenting with symptoms, all residents who have come into contact with that resident will be isolated for 14 days
  • Where possible, set members of staff will only care for these residents

While we feel we are managing the risk in each of our homes, we are taking these measures as a precaution in line with the national guidance. The safety of our residents remains our priority and we will continue to follow these guidelines until advised otherwise. We felt it was important to keep you up to date with the information and would like to re-assure you that we have a healthy supply of PPE to sustain us through this period. Should you have any questions on any of this please contact us on the dedicated Covid-19 details below.

We are still operating a no-visitor policy and will continue to monitor the situation. The visitors policy is listed below for reference.

All of our homes now have full provisions for video calls, via Google Hangouts. The procedure for these calls has been communicated separately by email and letter. If you have not received this or have a question about this, please contact the home that your loved one is in.

The best place to keep updated with your loved one is the Facebook page of their respective home, which is being updated regularly. We are aiming to show as much as daily life as possible, aswell as the many messages and gifts of support we have received from friends, relatives and the wider community. We are only able to show photos of residents who have provided consent, so if you have any questions on this please email marketing@countrycourtcare.com

Following reports of food shortages, this week we have completed delivery of a ‘Country Court Care Package’ to over 2000 staff who are working in our homes. We undertook this operation to ensure our care staff did not go short while working to keep your loved ones safe. Full information on this can be seen HERE

Letter sent 1st April 2020

Our IT team have arranged for tablets to be delivered to each of our homes and video calling is now available for each home. For more information, please click here

All other actions stand as per below.

Letter sent 26th March 2020

As of today (26th March) we are continuing with our actions implemented on Tuesday 17th March.

We are still operating a no-visitor policy, which was initially in place for a 2 week period from 17th March (policy below). Following the government announcement of nationwide lockdown on Monday 23rd March, we now expect this to continue for at least another 4-6 weeks. We have also had to cancel all visits from Hairdressers and Chiropodists until further notice and will be making provisions for this within the home. Our aim is to keep this period as short as safely possible, but it will be led by the national guidance and the best interests of our residents. We thank you for the understanding and support we have received for making the difficult decision to close our doors and will continue to keep you updated.

Our IT team have arranged for tablets to be delivered to each of our homes. This will allow video calling to be available on every floor. However, due to delays in deliveries, this will not be implemented until early next week. These video calls will be operated via Google Hangouts, for which you will require a Google Account (such as Gmail). If you don’t have one, it can be created by following the link: https://accounts.google.com/signup/. As soon as this system is up and running we will communicate the details of how you can access this service. In the meantime, many of the homes have some provisions for Facetime, Whatsapp or other video calling, so please do ask them what is available.

This week we have launched our ‘Keep in Touch’ Postcards which have been delivered groupwide. Our residents are enjoying writing to each other and talking about how they are keeping spirits up in their home. Everyone has loved the messages they have received from relatives and are writing back where possible, so please do keep in contact.

The best place to keep updated with your loved one is the Facebook page of their respective home, which is being updated regularly. We are aiming to show as much as daily life as possible, aswell as the many messages and gifts of support we have received from friends, relatives and the wider community. We are only able to show photos of residents who have provided consent, so if you have any questions on this please email marketing@countrycourtcare.com

All of our staff have been provided with proof of their ‘Key Worker’ status to ensure they can continue to come to and from their place of work. This is a difficult time for everyone and our fantastic staff are continuing to work extremely hard in the circumstances, putting the care of your loved ones at the heart of their efforts. We thank them for this and we will continue to do everything we can to support them throughout the period.

Letter sent 19th March 2020

As of today (19th March) the actions from our previous correspondence still stand. We are still operating our Visitor Policy and want to thank all of you who undertaken the advice and stayed away from the home. We understand that this is a difficult decision for you but taken in the best interests of your loved ones. Without your visits, we are trying to handle as many of your calls as possible and hope everyone has been able to speak to the person they wanted to. We are still in the process of setting up a dedicated video calling system for each home and have someone working full-time on this. Our expectation is this will be ready early next week and will be communicated as soon as it is.

We are aiming to keep each of our Facebook pages up to date with life in the home. With demands on staff, this isn’t always possible, but we will try our best as we know this is a great way for you to see your loved one. Many of our homes are trying to send out newsletters when they can and we are also setting up a new initiative with ‘Keep in Touch’ Postcards, starting from next week. These have been designed for residents to send messages to each other across our homes, to maintain communication and keep each others spirits up. Of course many people will also want to send them to family members, so please look out for these!

You will have seen in the news the decision to close schools from Monday. This obviously has a big impact on our employees, as it no doubt does on many of you. We are working extremely hard to ensure it does not effect our staffing and are doing everything we can to keep our homes running smoothly. We are looking at flexible working hours to help cover shifts and continue to increase our recruitment push for all homes, which is already seeing results. On top of this, we now have a list forming of willing volunteers for our homes, should this be required. We still do not expect this to be necessary, but want to be prepared for all eventualities. If you do know someone who would like to volunteer please send us the details on covid19enquiry@countrycourtcare.com

Actions Implemented 17th March

Following the government announcement yesterday, we are expecting further government guidance with regards to restrictions for care homes and elderly people specifically. In anticipation of this, we are accelerating our plan to further reduce the risk of infection at all of our homes.

The below will be implemented from today, Tuesday 17th March:

  • Group travel for the company is on hold and only in exceptional circumstances will travel to homes take place from non Care Home based personnel.
  • All non-emergency supplier or contractor visitors will be stopped.
  • All activities from external suppliers will be stopped, but internal activities will continue to maintain the well-being of our residents. All external trips will now be cancelled. Hairdressing services will be reduced to monthly visits, by appointment only.
  • We will be operating a streamlined food menu for our homes, to ensure quality of delivery in a difficult time with suppliers. We are working hard to ensure this does not effect the enjoyment or nutrition of each meal.
  • We have set up a dedicated Coronavirus helpline and email address for family members and staff to contact us on. The details for this are listed below and this will be available 24 hours a day should you have any concerns.
  • Most significantly, we have updated our policy for resident related visitors, which can be seen below.
Visitors Policy

Following the recent guidance, we are not permitting visits from family members to our homes. We understand that this is not an ideal situation but feel it is necessary at this time to protect our residents. If you have an important reason for visiting your relative, we will review these on a case by case basis. We will try our best to facilitate essential visits but in the current climate we will be unable to allow the majority of these requests.

To request a visit, please contact the home your loved one is in and explain the reason for the visit. This will then be escalated to the Senior Management team to review whether we can arrange the visit. Please note that this may take up to 48 hours, depending on the situation.

Other than the above changes, the day to day running of the homes themselves will continue as before with the same teams delivering all the great work that they do regardless of the current circumstances.

As mentioned previously, Country Court already have rigorous infection control procedures and a robust outbreak plan should a risk or a case of Coronavirus be identified within either residents, the staff team or their immediate families.

If you have any questions or concerns on any of the above, please contact us on our dedicated Coronavirus details. This will be available 24 hours a day:

Telephone – 01733 465329

Email – covid19enquiry@countrycourtcare.com

For more information we would refer you to www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public for the official current guidelines.

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