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NHS72 - Care home and hospice response

Recent months have been extremely challenging for care homes, having to switch to a pandemic crisis footing in very little time.

Homes have had to implement stringent measures, conduct training and absorb large amounts of information very rapidly, all the while providing services to their residents that keep both them and staff safe.

Local care homes have done all this and more and there are some great examples of what they have achieved. Here is the experience of just one of them:

The home has been in lockdown during the pandemic initial phase. It has had residents with COVID-19 but has put in a number of initiatives to help prevent any spread as much as possible.

Staff were able to zone-off different floors to separate residents and staff into different cohorts, to make it easier to isolate the groups in the event of an outbreak.

Any resident who tests positive is automatically isolated for 14 days.

Managers introduced designated staff changing rooms on each floor so that staff were not mixing – and they created a four-bedded zoned area for use as staff accommodation if required.

Thanks to good communication residents able to understand what was taking place were hugely relieved and delighted with COVID testing.  The home has also been conscious of how difficult a time it has been for staff too and has introduced wellbeing meetings with employees to support them.

In order to continue to receive external support but in a safe way, there have been daily multi-disciplinary team meetings and twice-weekly GP rounds carried out virtually.

The home is now starting to develop ways to ease that lockdown, with supervised family visiting from Monday to Friday. All residents’ clinical status are reviewed daily and if any concerns are raised, visiting is cancelled and reviewed on a 24-hour basis. Not only that, all relatives have to have one hour training in infection control and to complete a questionnaire. One designated family member has a 30 minutes slot by appointment once a week in the garden in a marquee to help with the mental well- being of the residents. And residents who walk with purpose can and do use the secure patio.

How have hospices responded?

Hospices are experts at supporting and caring for people who are extremely vulnerable but like other services, they had no experience of working in the midst of a global pandemic with a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus.

Not all those who receive hospice care are residents. Hospices support many people by providing palliative care to ‘outpatients’ or people in their own homes.

During the initial phase of the pandemic local hospices made arrangements so that they were able to care for more patients at home with specialist palliative care support than would normally be the case. This reduced the need for vulnerable people to travel to an inpatient facility and therefore reduced their risk of infection.

This change worked well and was able to ensure continued provision of the care that patients needed.

The hospices have also been able to provide excellent education sessions for care homes and primary care on looking after people at the end of their life with COVID -19. There have also been able to support care home staff with bereavement care.

Though it has been very challenging for care homes there are also some really good stories how homes have copied during this time and embraced the opportunities that were offered to them.

Frimley Health and Care

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