1st March 2021
I am delighted to announce that the Government and ourselves consider it safe enough to recommence visiting to the Cornerstone services at Kitnocks House and South Africa Lodge from Monday 8th March.
As you all know from my previous communication, we have put a lot of effort into ensuring our duty of care to our residents is fulfilled and in doing so have had to make some very difficult decisions and have been constantly reviewing options, risk assessing and interpreting – often confusing – guidelines.
All our residents who are eligible and consent have received their vaccine, in addition to all our staff – also those who are eligible and consent – so the risk is much reduced. Please remember our residents are in a protected environment and therefore can only be exposed to contact with someone who is freely moving outside the service; therefore, we would encourage those of you who will be visiting to get vaccinated if you are eligible. Please also remember that although your main focus will be your relative/friend, they do live in a shared environment and so we must ensure the greatest protection for all those who are entrusted to our service by the Clinical Commissioning Group and other bodies.
The Government and advisory bodies have not reduced the need for extra Personal Protective Equipment and so our unfortunate colleagues still have to work their whole shift in masks etc. Therefore, when you come to visit you will have to wear the same.
Visits will be as the last time, by appointment only and will be allocated to fortnightly to ensure everyone who wants to, gets a visit in. We can accommodate a resident having up to two visitors at a time and we encourage visiting from those same people for subsequent visits.
The visits will take place in a variety of locations depending on the risk assessment; therefore, some might be behind screens, some in garden-based rooms, some in bedrooms. The clinical staff will allocate the appropriate venue for each visit.
Your visits will involve you taking a test for Covid-19 which gives results in approximately 30 minutes. The ‘visitor’s’ test is a quick result but again we would caution anyone with symptoms not to attend the service. As per previous guidelines, the visits could take up to 90 minutes – up to 60 minutes for testing and processing and 30 minutes for the actual visit. Please note if one of two visitors tests positive the visit will be cancelled for both people. You must expect to be in the testing room for up to an hour waiting for your results or you can go back to your car if you have one. We will make this as comfortable as possible but it is a waiting room with plastic chairs etc., so that it can be fully sanitised after each visitor. As we see the volume of visiting, we will be looking to adjust this.
In order to facilitate this testing of visitors we have to use staff from the service, which will obviously increase our reliance on agency to deliver the service to the residents during this time. However, please note the needs of the service comes first and we may, depending on staffing levels, skill mix and Government guidelines, have to cancel some visits – this will be the last option once everything else has been explored. We have employed a team of Covid Co-ordinators who will be undertaking a lot of the testing and registration work which goes with it.
Registration and testing will take time and you will need to arrive one hour before your booked visit to complete this process. Due to this we are limited in the number of visitors we are able to accommodate in one day. As a result of this, if you turn up later than 10 minutes past your allocated slot, we will have to cancel your visit.
Visiting will be via a booking system as before, our visiting guidance is attached along with instructions of putting on and removing PPE and a guide for self-swabbing. You must wear one of the fluid repellent masks issued by us, not your own mask, whilst in the service and there are no exceptions to this. All PPE issued must be disposed of on exit. Please ensure that you familiarise yourselves with this information prior to making an appointment. Please contact reception between 9 – 5 Monday to Friday to book your visiting slot and for visitors’ guidance. This is so we can ensure everyone is booked appropriately and we are not taking staff from the floor to do this.
There may be times when we have to ‘precautionary isolate’ a Lodge/Wing in the service, this does not mean we have a positive Covid-19 case; however, it will mean that you will not be able to visit your loved one if they are located in that Lodge/Wing. There is also an expectation you will ring the service on the day of your visit to ensure the visit is going ahead.
As before, in the event of a positive Covid-19 case in the service, we will not allow visits to continue, only in exceptional circumstances.
We are able to facilitate closed window visits but we would require you to a make an appointment in advance so we can have your loved one ready to see you. With closed window visits there is no limit to the number of different visitors that can visit a resident but they must arrive on a booked basis. Obviously, this will not be available to anyone not based on the ground floor as we do not mix residents between units.
Coronavirus shows no sign of abating at this stage and we must live with it as best we can. We are confident that we can do this in our service and continue to keep your loved one safe and well.
Once again, I thank you for your support and cooperation. Our team have had an unprecedently difficult year and we admire them for their stalwart attitude, tenacity and compassion in maintaining their standards despite suffering like everyone else, the personal effects of the pandemic.
If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or Kitnocks House and South Africa Lodge directly.
Dara Ní Ghadhra
Group Chief Operating Officer