Tuesday, June 23, 2020

To Visit or not to Visit.... that is the question..

First things first, the virtual tour with our MP two weeks ago went well.  I am delighted to report that he was able to spend over 1.5 hours with me (via video call), meeting staff and residents and seeing around our home.   I think I can say with certainty that he understood more of the challenges after the meeting than he did before the meeting.  We discussed;
  • The admission of untested residents from hospitals at the start of the pandemic (although we took in no admissions we were asked to do so).
  • The challenges of PPE and social distancing and how "one size" does not fit all when it comes to guidelines for care homes.
  • The challenges specific to those living with dementia through the pandemic.
  • PPE issues - some PPE which is not fit for purpose.
  • End of Life visits
  • The future of small privately run care homes
Many of the issues we discussed do not have easy solutions, there is no magic wand but I really wanted to give him an understanding that a one size fits all approach can not work.

It was not all gloom and despondency.  He said at one point he was surprised just how "homely" our home was.  Music to my ears!  We told him about the activities, how we have communicated with families...  I even sent him a link to this blog.  I hope that going forward he will be able to fight the corner for the residents of care homes...

Over the past few weeks the subject of family visits has been one that plays on my mind.  As lockdown restrictions are lifted I know many family and residents themselves look forward to the time they can see their loved ones.

Today further lockdown restrictions were lifted.  Two hours after Boris made his announcement we were sent guidelines which state "Family and Friends should not visit care homes apart from next of kin in exceptional circumstances". But that ultimately it was for the care home to make the decision on whether it is safe to visit or not.

When we allow visits they will be in the garden (although I am hoping to build a visitor pod in the not too distant future), socially distanced and limited to one visitor.  Every single resident, every single family member has their own set of circumstances.  
Will the resident benefit from the visit?
Will the resident and family member be able to socially distance - imagine you visit your Mum, she dissolves in tears at the sight of you after 14 weeks, how hard will it be not to hug, not to hold hands.... even more so if your Mum has dementia?
Is the resident part of the very vulnerable shielding group?
Has the visitor been socially distancing / do they work in a higher risk environment?
Do I temperature check on arrival? what PPE to provide? How to we clean the seats between visitors?

And then the most serious of all..... if we make the wrong decision and a visitor is asymptomatic and passes Covid-19 to their loved one, who pass it on to the other residents...... and staff......It keeps me up at night.

At the moment I feel that garden visits will be right thing to do for some residents.  Those residents who we know will benefit from a visit.  I know how hard this is for families having to wait to see their loved ones in person. 

In the meantime I will ensure we keep our wonderful residents, safe, loved, busy and happy.  I will send images, I will send videos, I will over communicate to all our residents families.... and my dogs.... they will also keep watch on them.

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