How are care homes adapting to life post-lockdown?

The coronavirus pandemic delivered an unwelcome dose of stress, anxiety, and adversity to a variety of industries — and the Care Sector was no exception. 

The past two years have seen us grapple with PPE shortages, crippling uncertainty, and overwhelming heartbreak as we’ve fought tooth and nail to keep our residents (and our staff) safe and healthy. 

Now, as we slowly but surely emerge from the harsher restrictions, we think it’s a good time to reflect on life in care post-lockdown as we look forward to a better and brighter tomorrow.

Note: This is part one of a two-part blog post. Our next article explores the future of nursing home care in a post-COVID world. 

Care Homes Post-Lockdown: What’s Changing? And What’s Staying the Same?

First, the good news! As it stands, the UK Government no longer recommends restricting care home visits, unless the home has an outbreak. This is crucially important for our residents, as the mental health benefits of family and friends visiting in-person are invaluable. 

And while we’re not currently placing limits on the number of visitors allowed into Fulford (we only ask that you continue to arrange your visits in advance), we are maintaining the high levels of risk management we implemented during the lockdown. 

This means visitors must: 

  • test themselves using rapid lateral flow tests before every visit; 
  • wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by Fulford; and
  • follow all infection control measures, as described by our staff.

We are also advising that visitors and residents continue to keep physical contact to a minimum to lower the chances of transmission. Gloves are no longer required for hand-holding, but you will be asked to wash your hands before and after your visit. 

If you’re moving around communal areas in the home, please maintain social distancing.

For more up-to-date guidance on visiting care homes, visit GOV.UK.

Meanwhile, we’re following the Government’s other key recommendations for care homes:

  • Every Fulford resident can nominate an essential caregiver who can visit during an outbreak or period of isolation.
  • If a Fulford resident tests positive, they only have to self-isolate for ten days. However, this isolation can end after 5 full days if they test negative on both day 5 and day 6 and do not have a temperature.
  • If we experience a COVID-19 outbreak, visits will be restricted while we follow outbreak management rules for 14 days. Note: An outbreak is defined as two or more confirmed or suspected cases among residents or staff in the same setting, with symptoms developing within 14 days.

What about residents leaving the home for the day or longer?

As we emerge from lockdown-era restrictions, we’re delighted that our residents can once again venture out into the community or return home to visit family and friends. 

However, as above, we will continue to do our best to manage and mitigate risk. COVID hasn’t disappeared, and it’s likely to be part of our lives for the foreseeable future. So, all visits out of the home will be risk assessed.

Again, some good news: unless we consider the visit to be high risk (such as an emergency stay in hospital), residents will not be asked to test or isolate upon their return. 

If the visit is considered high risk, we’ll ask the resident to self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status. 

  • If they’re vaccinated, they can end their isolation early by returning a negative lateral flow test on days 4, 5, and 6 following their return.
  • If they’re unvaccinated, they’ll be required to return a negative LF test on days 6, 7, and 8.

Has anything else changed?

By ensuring that safe visiting practices and infection prevention and control (IPC) measures are maintained, we’re pleased to say that the duration of visits is no longer limited

Provided you contact us in advance and schedule your visit, you can stay with your loved one for as long as you like (during visiting hours). You can even join them for social activities or mealtimes. 

What Does the Future of Nursing Home Care Hold Post-COVID?

Life in care post-lockdown has brought relief for many as things edge a little closer to normality. However, the pandemic has also helped usher in fundamental changes in the Care Sector. 

For starters, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of mental health and wellbeing among residents and staff. And the workload and emotional strain of our profession was thrust into the spotlight like never before, leading to vital discussions around support and funding.

In our next article, we explore how these changes will continue to shape nursing home care in the years to come.  

If you have any questions about our approach to care post-lockdown, please contact us on 01904 654 269. We’re ready to listen and happy to help.

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