1 October 2020

An update from our Chief Executive Madeleine to the family of people we support.

Day Opportunities

Day Opportunities provision for people with learning disabilities is exempt from the new rule of six.  That said, we continue to run our day opportunities with a maximum group size and limiting staff movement between teams.   For those individuals who have been able to return, we will continue to support them in this way, in designated `bubbles` and zones.  We will also continue to support people to take responsibility for their personal hygiene and health.

 

Transport

If people are travelling in vehicles with others who are not part of their usual household e.g. friends are transporting, taxis etc. to and from services, please ensure that everyone in the vehicle is wearing a face mask and, preferably driving with the windows open to keep the air circulating.  People must wash or sanitise their hands before getting into the vehicle and on arrival at their destination.

 

Residential and Supported Living

As I have said previously, although the guidance for supported living is sometimes different to that of care homes, throughout the pandemic, we have taken the guidance for care homes as the gold standard of protecting people we support.  In the continued absence of further guidance about visits for supported living, we will apply the Government’s Guidance on Visiting Arrangements in Care Homes as the standard to which we will work for all of our home support settings.

The guidance for care home visits changed on 21 September and we must be guided by the local infection control lead from the CCG and local Public Health England Health Protection Team.   That guidance can change again with no notice and we will do our best to update you if that does happen.

Visits to the person’s home – supported living and residential

Each visit is risk-assessed on an individual basis. We need to try and balance the welfare of the individual concerned in terms of meeting family members with the risk to their health and, equally importantly, the risk to them picking up an infection and passing it on to their fellow house mates and our staff.

As a result of this revised guidance, for the time being, we will:

  • facilitate outdoor visits that must be pre-booked and ideally with only one or minimal number of people visiting
  • ask that there is a nominated individual with whom the person meets to try and reduce down the number of social interactions.
  • ensure that social distancing takes place throughout the visits
  • ensure visitors wash or sanitise their hands before they meet up
  • if there is a need for close personal contact, then the visitor must wear a face covering
  • before visiting you will be asked the following questions
    • Have you been feeling unwell recently?
    • Have you had recent onset of a new continuous cough?
    • Do you have a high temperature? A care home may consider providing a temperature check for all visitors to provide confidence to visitors and to staff.
    • Have you noticed a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell?
    • Have you had recent contact (in the last 14 days) with anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or someone with confirmed COVID-19 – if yes, should you be self-isolating as a family member or as a contact advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace?
  • We will keep a record of each of those visits and your contact details for 21 days which will be required for track and trace purposes.

Visits to your home or those of friends

We are currently being advised that there will be updated guidance about visits out of a care home to e.g. family home but have not yet received anything.  In the absence of that guidance, we regret that we will not be facilitating home visits at this moment in time in either supported living or residential care.

 

Helping us to keep everyone safe

I know that this is a really difficult time for everyone, and particularly with the continued uncertainty of what may happen next.  It is clear that Covid-19 is circulating in general population, often by people who are asymptomatic.   We also know from early studies of the virus that people with learning disabilities, many of whom have underlying other health conditions, were worse affected by the virus.  There were twice as many deaths of people with learning disabilities between April and May this year than the prior year and although it is too early to say, this is most likely due to people contracting and dying of Covid-19.

We ask that you respect our decision to protect your loved one, the people that they share their house with and our staff in this way by following the guidance and work with us and our staff team.  We also ask that you reassure your son/daughter/brother and sister that these decisions are in everyone’s best interest and help us to manage individual’s anxiety about this.

We will get back to normal at some point, but in the meantime thank you for supporting us through this.

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