Over the past six months, Gracewell Healthcare has focused tirelessly on protecting the safety of our residents and team members from Covid-19. To the credit of our care homes, we have been successful at mitigating the impact of this virus on our care homes through the heroic efforts displayed by our team members as well as residents and relatives.
However, with cases again on the rise across the UK, we’re continuing to keep in place our rigorous infection prevention control measures to ensure our care homes are safe this winter. Here, we discuss some of the measures we have put in place to ensure the safety and prosperity of everyone at Gracewell.
Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our residents and team members
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, our Procurement Team has worked hard to ensure that we have continued to have access to adequate levels of PPE for each and every one of our care homes. As a marker of their success, we now have hubs within each region which hold reserve stock of at least a month’s worth of supplies. In addition, we are continuing to supply PPE to our staff for when they are outside their care home to reduce the likelihood of contracting the virus within their local communities. We’ve also gone one step further to ensure that, if needed, our minibuses can be used to take our staff to and from work to avoid the additional risk of using public transport.
Research by University College London has also indicated that care homes with a higher resident-to-staff ratio may be more susceptible to developing Covid-19 outbreaks. At Gracewell, we’re fortunate that our care homes are relatively small in size and have a high staff-to-resident ratio. As such, we’re confident that each of our care homes are in a strong position to continue enforcing strict and effective infection prevention controls which have so far been successfully implemented.
As well as looking after the physical health of residents, we are continuing to prioritise their social and emotional wellbeing. Indeed, when possible, our care homes are taking advantage of both outdoor areas and large indoor areas, so that they can facilitate regular socially distanced activities, entertainment and hobbies.
Visits to our care homes
In March 2020, we took the difficult decision to suspend all family visits to our care homes, unless under exceptional circumstances. Since then, we have eased this policy in line with government guidance, with some visits now possible under strict social distancing guidelines. These visits are guided by our framework which stipulates that there must be no infections in the home and that the infection rates in the area where the home is situated are within safe parameters. If it is safe to visit, all visitors go through a screening process which includes checking their temperatures. They’re also equipped with and advised on how to properly wear PPE and are then escorted through the building. This balanced approach has been a success, and we’ll continue to allow these to take place as long as it is safe.
In addition, we have now developed a framework for visitors to be awarded an “enhanced visitor status” through our ‘Meaningful Contact’ model. This enhanced visitor protocol identifies mechanisms that would allow relatives to visit their loved ones in a safe, controlled, and managed way where there is a clinical need. Each protocol is then personalised to the needs of both the resident and relative, with the needs, risks, training requirements and potential outcomes identified and taken into consideration.
These measures, along with many others, have been the driving force behind our successful management of Covid-19 over the last six months. Looking ahead to the winter, we’re confident in our ability to continue this success with the support of all our team members, residents and relatives.
To see our latest updates relating to Covid-19, our visitor guide and more, click here.