CORONAVIRUS VISITING POLICY

Introduction

Contact with relatives and friends is fundamental to care home residents’ health and wellbeing and visiting is encouraged. There are not normally any restrictions to visits into or out of the care home. There may be times when we will reduce visits – the reasons we may do this are outlined in this policy.

Where visiting arrangements are modified during an outbreak of COVID-19 or other infectious disease we will work with relatives and friends to ensure that meaningful contact can be maintained through video calls, telephone calls and visits for essential care givers, end-of-life visiting will always be supported.

Objective and Scope

Visiting is an integral part of care home life. It is vitally important for maintaining the health, wellbeing and quality of life of residents. Visiting is also crucial for family and friends to maintain contact and life-long relationships with their loved ones, and to contribute to their support and care.

People living in care homes are typically more vulnerable to transmissible viruses such as COVID-19, flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and norovirus which can all be dangerous to care home residents. This policy outlines what we do to mitigate the risks of infection and forms part of our overall infection prevention and control strategy. This policy describes the mitigations we ask visitors to follow to help to protect residents and also outlines when we will place restrictions on visiting.

We will use a dynamic risk assessment approach to help to facilitate residents having visits at BCH. This may mean that we change our approach from time to time depending upon the assessed risks. We will also seek to mitigate risks of the spread of infection by ensuring hand hygiene and the use of face masks by any visitors to BCH.

Policy Statement

Signing in and out

All visitors are asked to use the electronic signing in and out faciality in the reception of BCH. To help with the correct recording of visitors we need an email address for each visitor – please register these with reception. We will use these emails to send group communications about important changes to visiting procedures.

The wellness of visitors when they visit

Visitors should not enter the care home if they are feeling unwell, if visitors have any symptoms that suggest any transmissible viruses or infections, such as cough, high temperature, diarrhoea or vomiting, they should avoid the care home until at least 5 days after they feel better. We are asking all visitors to take their temperature when they come to visit to give an indication of their general health at the time of their visit.

Face masks

Face masks should be worn by all visitors at BCH, for all visits to the home. This is sometimes referred to as ‘universal masking’ or ‘source control’ and is a means of preventing any spread of infection from the mask wearer. BCHA will supply visitors with Type IIR fluid-repellent surgical masks which protect others from the wearer’s respiratory droplets should they have asymptomatic COVID-19 infection, these are the masks that should be worn in the care home.

Essential care givers

Every resident will be supported to choose an essential care giver to benefit from companionship and additional care and support provided by someone with whom they have a personal relationship.

Essential care givers should be allowed to continue to visit during when there is an outbreak. Unless the person they are visiting is isolating because they have tested positive for Covid-19.  

Visitors who are providing personal care should wear appropriate PPE and carry out regular Lateral flow Device tests (LFD) If these visitors attend once or twice a week, they should only test on that day (testing can be completed at home or on site). If they visit more than twice a week, they should test a maximum of twice weekly, 3 to 4 days apart. We will support with the provision of testing for essential care givers. Visitors providing personal care should show proof of their negative test result prior to entry. This may be an email or text from reporting the result, a date stamped photo of the test cartridge, or any other proof. If they are not able to produce a negative test, they may be asked to reschedule.

In addition to negative test results, we are asking all essential care givers to wear face masks, in addition to aprons and gloves, if they are providing personal care.

If a resident has been tested positive for Covid-19 essential care givers should consider their visit carefully as they may risk the spread of Covid-19 to themselves or others. Alternatives to visits such as video calls can be facilitated.

End of life visits

End-of-life care (for residents in care homes) means early identification of those who are in their last year of life and offering them the support to live as well as possible and to then die with dignity. A doctor usually decides if a person is at this stage. These visits will continue if the home is closed due to an outbreak. Testing is not required in any circumstances for an end-of-life visit.

Summary of visiting – when there is not an outbreak (see below)

Type of Visitor                     Testing requirements                 PPE requirements

General                                 None                                               Face Mask

Essential Care Giver          LFD twice weekly                        Face mask. Gloves and apron for                                                                                                                  giving personal care

End of life                            None                                                Face mask

 

In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in BCH

In the event of an outbreak in BCH we will immediately stop visiting including outward visits, (except in exceptional circumstances such as end of life) to protect vulnerable residents, staff and visitors. Essential care givers can continue to visit unless there are specific reasons not to do so.

An outbreak consists of 2 or more positive (or clinically suspected) linked cases of COVID-19 associated with the same setting within a 14-day period. This applies to both staff and residents and includes PCR and lateral flow test results.

This will be implemented in a transparent manner with open and clear communication to residents and relevant family members.

Responsibilities

The care home management team will be responsible for the review and updating of this policy.

All staff will need to understand the policy to enable them to explain this to visitors