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Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Our Response (Updated 26/03/20)

REF: COVID-19 – Group update

As the situation with Coronavirus continues to unfold, we wanted to keep you updated with how we are maintaining life in our homes to look after your relatives. Please note that we only sent this particular correspondence by email, so please pass it on to anyone else who would like to be included.

Updated actions since letter dated 19th 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.

Updated actions since letter dated 17th 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 strongly discouraging 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 many of these will not be possible.

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.

These are changes that we have not taken lightly and have been decided following an extensive review of the local and nationwide situation. Family is an important part of life in a care home and therefore we feel this is the right balance to strike in the current situation. The measures will be in place for 2 weeks at which point we will review the circumstances and guidance and make amends as appropriate. We hope you will support the decision made and will see this as a positive step to protect your loved one. 

To combat the potential loneliness of residents we are promoting calls to residents and will make video calling facilities available in all homes. This will take some time but we will keep you updated on this. As mentioned, we will also be setting up a specific Coronavirus helpline which you can call with any concerns. This and future information will be shared via our Coronavirus e-mail address which you will receive your first correspondence from in due course. You will also be able to contact this email directly which will be manned by an internal dedicated specialist Coronavirus team with the latest information on our group policy.

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.

No one knows how this situation will unfold and as a company we are doing everything we can to plan for any further developments. We are significantly increasing our recruitment drive for each home and are also exploring the options should we encounter significant staff shortages. One of these will be the enlistment of a team volunteers to help in a time of crisis, should this be a situation we encounter. We are confident that this won’t occur but are planning for all eventualities as a company.

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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