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Updated 7 April 2021

We are closely monitoring the latest advice and guidance relating to the global spread of COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus. We have robust procedures in place and the health and wellbeing of the people we support and our staff remains our highest priority.

We are working together with our services to keep abreast of rapidly evolving Government advice to minimise risks and ensure we are well-prepared for the challenges COVID-19 presents for us as a social care provider. We have adapted our practices in line with Public Health’s official guidance, and will continue to be guided by the valuable information about the virus being provided by Government and public health bodies.

Lifeways has the skills and culture to respond to these challenges. We have business continuity plans in place for every service that will support the uninterrupted delivery of care and support. We are working together with our partners on ways in which we can support one another to adapt to changing needs and priorities to help staff who continue to provide support across the country. 

We are taking referrals and are still carrying out assessments, remotely whenever possible, and continue to place people in our services according to the relevant government guidance and risk assessments. We hope that this will help to ease the pressure on the NHS and wider health and social care system. If you have any queries please contact the Enquiry, Referral and Assessment Manager that you usually deal with.

Our teams are working hard to make these difficult circumstances as manageable as possible with activities taking place within our group services supporting the well-being and mental health of the people we support.

Visits to our services

We are wholly committed to ensuring that we keep all the people we support, our colleagues and visitors as safe as possible.

All visitors to services will be based on latest Government guidance relevant to the area i.e. England, Scotland and Wales, and the appropriate risk assessment being completed. There will be some individual cases where visits cannot be facilitated at this time. This will also include in areas where local lockdown restrictions have been put into place or there has been a positive Covid-19 case.

Please be prepared for enhanced infection control procedures, these may include:

  • Handwashing/sanitising on arrival, regularly during your visit, and before you leave

  • Being asked to wear PPE

  • Taking your temperature on arrival

  • Being asked to take a Lateral Flow Device test (LFT)

  • Maintaining social distancing

  • Supplying information about recent travel history and whether you have had any symptoms or exposure to anybody with symptoms – if so you may be refused entry.

  • You should also try to come prepared with tissues, to catch, bin and kill any germs from sneezes/coughs during your visit.

Additional Information on Registered Care Home Visiting:

England: From 12 April people living in Residential care homes are able to have two nominated visitors who will undertake a Rapid (lateral flow) test. Visitors will be given a swab test in the Registered home and should get the results in around 30 minutes or less. If you receive a negative test you will be able to spend time with your loved ones there and then without the need to social distance and you can hold their hand but there should be no close physical contact such as hugging, appropriate PPE and the following of other infection prevention control measures will still be required. Once this visit is over you will need to repeat the test prior to each subsequent visit. 

(Visits including babies and very young children may also take place with the agreement of the care home manager. These children do not need to be counted as an additional visitor. Care home managers and families can agree to exercise some discretion here – but in general a child under the age of 2 need not be counted.)

Window visits, outdoor visits and screened visits can also continue.

Scotland: From early March Residential care homes can resume indoor visiting for up to two visits per resident per week (and up to two designated visitors). One person should visit at a time and undertake a rapid test (Lateral Flow) in the home before the visit. If you receive a negative test you will be able to spend time with your loved one, physical touch should also be supported when a fluid resistant surgical mask is worn by the person visiting, as are brief hugs or embraces.

Window and garden visits are also able to continue.

Wales: From the 13 March a single designated visitor will be able to resume indoor visiting.

If there is an outbreak in a home, then these visits will temporarily cease unless to visit someone at End of Life.

In order to minimise the number of people in the home at any one time if you would like to visit please contact the home to book an appointment or if you would like further information.

Families & Carers

We know this is a particularly difficult time for families and carers. If you have particular concerns about the measures we are taking to support your relative or loved one, please do not hesitate to contact their service directly.  The team will do their best to keep you updated and informed.

As the Government advice in England, Scotland and Wales is evolving. It is important if you wish to arrange a visit that you contact the Service/Home Manager who can undertake the relevant risk assessment and discuss with yourself if the visit is possible and how it will be facilitated to ensure everyone continues to stay safe and in line with guidance.

We are continuing to do everything possible to support routines for individuals in order to alleviate the stress of the current situation and are providing guidance to all colleagues on a range of activities that they can undertake in the service to keep people occupied, entertained and positive during this time.

Our dedicated teams are demonstrating great resilience and determination to continue to deliver support. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our fantastic front line colleagues; they are going above and beyond to make sure people are reassured and safe during this unprecedented time.

Coronavirus FAQs for families:

At Lifeways we are absolutely committed to keeping the people we support, colleagues and visitors as safe as possible. In light of the recent Government advice we have made some necessary changes to our services, and wanted to let you know. We continue to update this and review arrangements as guidance changes and there are easing of lockdown restrictions.

 

Our teams are working hard to make these difficult circumstances as manageable as possible with activities taking place within our services supporting the well-being and mental health of the people we support.

Will services still allow visitors?

We know how important it is for people to continue to see their families and friends therefore all visits to services will be based on the appropriate risk assessment being completed and the ability for people to maintain social distancing in line with latest Government guidance which is as follows:

England – From 12 April 2021:

Currently unless someone is in a permitted support bubble or exceptional circumstances have been agreed with care manager’s visits are not able to facilitated indoors under current guidance (unless in a care home, see guidance below). However,

You can meet outside/in private gardens either with one other household or within the “rule of six”

People living in Residential care homes:

People living in Residential care homes are able to have a two nominated visitor who will undertake a Rapid (lateral flow) test. Any children visiting (apart from babies and very young children) should also be counted towards the maximum number allowed for the visit.

Visits including babies and very young children may also take place with the agreement of the care home manager. These children do not need to be counted as an additional visitor. Care home managers and families can agree to exercise some discretion here – but in general a child under the age of 2 need not be counted. As is the case with visitors of all ages, there should be no close physical contact between babies or young children and the residents they are visiting.

Visitors will be given a swab test in the Registered home and should get the results in around 30 minutes or less. (The Government do not currently recommend that children under the age of 11 participate in regular asymptomatic testing. If a test is to take place for a child, it should be done with their consent and that of their parent or guardian, and following the appropriate steps in this guidance on how to test a child.)

If you receive a negative test you will be able to spend time with your loved ones there and then without the need to social distance and you can hold their hand but there should be no close physical contact such as hugging, appropriate PPE (Children aged 11 and over should wear the same PPE as adult visitors. Children under the age of 3 should not wear masks, for safety reasons.) and the following of other infection prevention control measures will still be required. Once this visit is over you will need to repeat the test prior to each subsequent visit. 

Window visits, outdoor visits and screened visits can also continue.

Summary of guidance for visitors - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Arrangements for visiting out of the care home:

Opportunities for care home residents to make visits out of the home – whether for a few hours or overnight – are an important part of care home life.

Even as vaccine coverage increases, there are still risks involved in visits out. It is important therefore that care homes, residents, family and friends take steps to manage and mitigate these risks.

This includes the need for residents to isolate on their return from any visit out. As such, we recognise that taking advantage of the increasing opportunities to receive visits within the care home is likely to be the better option for many residents and their loved ones.

Government guidance: Arrangements for visiting out of the care home

Wales – From 27 March 2021

Currently unless someone is in a permitted support bubble or exceptional circumstances have been agreed with care manager’s visits are not able to facilitated indoors under current guidance.

However:

Up to six adults from two different households will be allowed to meet outdoors and this includes in private gardens.

People living in Residential care homes:

One designated indoor visitor is allowed. Indoor visitors will be subject to testing and following current infection and prevention control measures.

Scotland – From 12 March 2021

Currently unless someone is in a permitted support bubble or exceptional circumstances have been agreed with care manager’s visits are not able to facilitated indoors under current guidance (unless in a care home, see guidance below). However,

Four people from two households will be able to meet outside in a private garden, park or other public place.

People living in Residential care homes:

can resume indoor visiting for up to two visits per resident per week (and up to two designated visitors). One person should visit at a time and undertake a rapid test (Lateral Flow) in the home before the visit. If you receive a negative test you will be able to spend time with your loved one, physical touch should also be supported when a fluid resistant surgical mask is worn by the person visiting, as are brief hugs or embraces.

Window and garden visits are also able to continue.

Where visits are enabled please be prepared for enhanced infection control procedures, these may include:

  • Handwashing/sanitising on arrival, regularly during your visit, and before you leave
  • Maintaining social distancing
  • Being asked to take a Lateral Flow Device Test (LFD)
  • Being asked to wear PPE
  • Having your temperature taken on arrival
  • Supplying information about recent travel history and whether you have had any symptoms or exposure to anybody with symptoms – if so you may not be able to visit and should seek further advice.

You should also try to come prepared with tissues, to catch, bin and kill any germs from sneezes/coughs during your visit.

If you would like to arrange a visit to the service or would like to know more about the current visiting arrangements, please contact the service/Registered manager. You may be asked to book your visit in advance in order to minimise the number of people within a person’s home at any one time.

Is my relative or friend still being supported? 

We are providing the same support as usual whilst observing the latest guidance including on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

How will my relative or friend be supported if they are self-isolating or feeling unwell?

Our teams continue to support people in line with government and public health guidance. If anybody we support begins to display symptoms of Covid-19 we will ask them to self-isolate and support them to get a Covid-19 test. Where people lack capacity to consent to the test we will take a multi-disciplinary approach. If people test positive they will be supported to self-isolate for 10 days.

If someone is in a shared service and another person, they live with tests positive we will ensure people are supported to self-isolate in line with guidance.

Where someone is following self-isolation, all staff and tenants / residents will be informed. A thorough risk assessment will be undertaken and this will take into account the person’s capacity and understanding of what isolation means.

Follow this link to read more about what to do if you are experiencing symptoms: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

What happens if there is a confirmed case in a service?

If there is a confirmed case in one of our services, we will immediately notify the next of kin and continue supporting the individual. The risk level of staff and other tenants or residents will be assessed, and self-isolation guidelines will be followed. Infection control will be increased and the individual’s symptoms will be closely monitored.

We may also need to temporarily cease all non-essential visits to the service.

What if the manager is off sick or self-isolating?

We will ensure that there is adequate management support in place. There will always be a member of our team that you can contact and we will let you know if this isn’t the person you usually deal with.

What if there are staff shortages?

If anyone from your relative or friend’s support team is absent from work, we have additional staff that can step in for as long as required to ensure everyone can continue to receive the support that they need.

What if we are currently being referred to one of your services?

We are trying as much as possible to continue the referral process and are still carrying out assessments, remotely whenever possible, and placements. We hope that this will help to ease the pressure on the NHS and wider health and social care system. If you have any queries please contact the Enquiry, Referral and Assessment Manager that you usually deal with.

What if the service needs repairs?

Emergency repairs (boiler, etc.) will be carried out even in services that are currently restricting visitors. In areas that do not have additional restrictions non-essential repairs will be reviewed as to the urgency of them and if they can go ahead.

Who can I contact if I have any questions?

Please feel free to get in touch with your usual Lifeways contact who will help with any further queries.

Links to more information – for the latest developments, Government and NHS guidance, please refer to the links below:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

https://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/guidance/

https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19

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