It’s over six weeks since I updated this blog. I have thought about what to write many times.... so much to say, but where to start.
It has been an exceptionally busy week. Our “visitors pod” in the form of a conservatory attached to the outside office has been built, just the floor to go down and then we can welcome visitors inside, just in time for the colder weather (despite a short heatwave being forecast for the next few days). The last few days have been warm and calm, residents have been in the garden and it has been wonderful to see family visiting their loved ones - albeit socially distanced and wearing PPE.
Activities in the home continue and a highlight of my week is sharing the special moments from the week before with our residents families. It is always a job I look forward to. I sit with a cup of tea, going through all the images and videos from the previous 7 days, putting them into a video and what’s app'ing all of our residents loved ones. I relive those special moments once again.
I have been incredibly thankful of the support we have received from the families of our residents. I have attempted to explain every decision we have taken, I ensure that they are regularly updated at all times, guidelines changed a lot, particularly in the early stage of the pandemic. The entire team and the families of residents have been appreciative of the updates and supportive of all of our decisions.
A few hours ago I took the difficult decision to temporarily suspend all non essential visits. With Covid-19 cases rising, I felt that it was the prudent thing to do. Safety of all of our residents is paramount, and every additional visitor represents an additional risk.
We are doing everything in our power to keep our residents safe. Over the last few months, like other care homes, we have put in place detailed new infection control processes. Staff have been trained, risk assessments put in place. We follow all infection control protocols. Staff temperature checks, changing into uniform and out of uniform at the start and end of every shift. PPE being worn at all time. We have all made many personal sacrifices over the last few months to ensure that we are minimising our risk exposure. We looked to the Government to fulfil their promise of weekly testing of all staff, so critical to ensure that we can control the risk of asymptomatic transmission. Sadly the Government have yet again failed on this promise.
We all hear constantly that test and trace is critical to controlling infections. Testing was rolled out to all care homes in July (the fact that the Randox kits all got recalled and then there was a four week delay to get the new kits is not mentioned). Time and time again I hear about the “ring of steel” around care homes.
Over the summer care homes planned for what may happen over the winter. Testing of all staff and residents was rolled out, and yet as I sit here and type this blog I am waiting for test results.... Results from tests that were collected on Sunday - seven days ago. We have had just three results (all negative).. we are supposed to get results within 72 hours. Other care homes are experiencing the same delays.
We expected a difficult winter, but I felt certain the mistakes that happened earlier in the year when our most vulnerable in society were so badly let down would not happen again... surely not...
And yet, the testing that we were promised clearly is not working.
I feel I have support from our residents families, from the team of carers and from the residents. I believe a lot of that is down to open and honest communication.
I fear we have a difficult winter ahead. I promise I will keep communicating, I will keep being honest.