Our Approach to COVID-19

Coronavirus Update – December 2020

Dear team members, residents, relatives, and friends,

As we come out of country wide lockdown into a more localised tiered lockdown, we would like to update you on some of our developments around COVID-19 within our care homes.

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FAQs

What measures are being taken to keep our loved ones safe?

We continue to implement a number of measures to keep a safe environment for our staff and residents. As you will know, we were one of the first care groups to restrict non-essential visits to our care homes and put this in place prior to the Government advising it. In addition to maintaining this restriction, some other key initiatives include:

  • All residents and staff members have been tested for COVID-19, and we continue to follow Government guidance in regards to safely managing this and the results
  • Daily temperature checks for all staff, residents, and visitors
  • Thorough infection control procedures in place, including use of PPE and handwashing (we have faced no shortage of PPE or cleaning supplies during the pandemic)
  • Infection control training in place for all staff, plus regular audits of procedures and handwashing
  • Heightened cleaning procedures, including more regular deep cleaning
  • Social distancing policy in place for all care homes
  • 14-day precautionary isolation for all new residents who come to live in the care home
  • Testing all new residents for COVID-19, prior to release, from precautionary isolation
  • Implementation of isolation procedures for any resident who shows any potential COVID-19 symptoms
  • Staff members are monitored daily and are following NHS guidelines, being careful to not attend work and to follow isolation and testing guidelines if they, or anyone in their household, displays COVID-19 symptoms
  • Staff members are not travelling to and from work in uniform, but are changing into uniform prior to starting their shift in the home, and then changing back into outdoor clothing before leaving. Some homes are also providing laundry services for staff uniforms
  • Staff members limit what they bring into the care home and all belongings are being kept in a designated area away from residents
  • Delivery drivers are not entering the care homes and are delivering items to designated delivery points

 

What happens if a resident has confirmed or suspected COVID-19?

We have strict protocols in place to care for residents with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. This includes caring for the resident in isolation, with full infection control procedures and PPE in place.

We are working in line with the latest guidance from Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health, and we also working in partnership with external medical professionals, including local health organisations, GPs and Hospitals to ensure the highest standard of care is provided to our residents.

What if a resident has a scheduled hospital appointment?

We continue to work with health care professionals to ensure our residents receive the medical assistance they need. We are making good use of technology to facilitate this, and are working with our GPs to limit their visits to the home where non-essential. To limit the number of visitors, many hospitals have postponed routine hospital appointments, or are doing these virtually where possible. In line with Government guidance and for safety reasons, residents are not leaving the home unless absolutely required. If a resident has an essential appointment, or needs to attend hospital in an emergency, of course we continue to support this.

How do you propose to look after a resident’s wellbeing during this time?

Whilst we have had to apply a policy of restricting visitors and social distancing in our care homes for safety reasons, this does mean that residents are being encouraged to stay in their rooms as much as possible. We are aware of the impact this can have on their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and our staff teams are introducing fun and innovative ways to keep our residents engaged and connected with those important to them. Please check our Facebook and Twitter accounts for our social media updates on what is going on in our care homes!

Our staff team have developed programmes of engaging activities that residents can participate in, with limited group sizes and with more one to one options available. We also continue to support residents to access the outdoors as well as internal communal areas, though with social distancing measures in place.

How can I keep in touch with my loved one?

We understand the importance for our residents of seeing their loved ones, and so whilst we will do what we can to facilitate this safely, on a case by case basis, the majority of contact will need to continue to take place remotely. We have a number of facilities in our care homes to support this, and residents have been making regular use of telephone calls and video calls (via Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom and FaceTime).

All of our care homes have their own Facebook pages, and we also have a group ‘Westgate Healthcare’ page. We encourage you to ‘like’ these pages and to follow our newsfeed. We are making extra effort at the moment to update Facebook regularly in order to share our stories and photos in regards to what is going on in our care homes.

What happens if my loved one is unwell and nearing end of life?

We fully recognise the importance of facilitating certain visits from family or friends, such as where a resident may sadly be nearing the end of their life. In these cases, the Home Manager will work with you on a case by case basis to facilitate these visits with the appropriate precautions in place.

What steps are you taking to make sure that your care home staff are safe?

We understand how important it is that our team members feel safe when they come into work. We are working in line with company procedures, in order to maintain a safe working environment. We are also ensuring that our team have access to the information and reassurances they need through regular team meetings and the latest information, posters and videos from the Government, PHE and NHS.

We have also ensured that all training continues remotely and that all team members are able to access training and wellbeing support at home as well as in the workplace.

How are you supporting your team’s welfare through this pandemic?

We are constantly looking at additional ways that we can further support our team members through this challenging time. We are holding regular team catch up meetings, including video ZOOM calls with the Company Directors, and have provided our team with details of the benefits, discounts and mental health support functions available to them.

As we see our team members provide further flexibility and support during this pandemic, we have seen an increase in the use of the ‘Westgate Wellness Staff Fund’, which is a pot of money for each care home to use as they wish to treat and care for their staff teams. Some lovely initiatives so far have included ‘Thank you Thursday’ where staff and residents show appreciation for each other, provision of meals and snacks for the team, the purchase of additional treats for the ‘Happy Box’ which staff members can access as part of our recognition scheme, and the ordering of regular takeaways and purchases of gifts and flowers to recognise team members who have gone above and beyond.

As a new initiative, we are also thrilled to be able to offer a Blue Light Card to all of our team members. The Blue Light Card is a discount service created specifically for those working in social care, the NHS and emergency services. For further information on the discount service, click here

Has recruitment been put on hold?

We continue to recruit a number of roles across the group and welcome the national recruitment campaign ‘Care for Others. Make a Difference’ launched by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Please visit the ‘Join Our Team’ section of our website for further details. Most interviews are taking place via video calling.

What can I do to help?

We would like to thank all our residents’ and team members’ relatives and friends, and the local communities, who have offered to help us in any way. We have been overwhelmed by your generosity and kind words. Please do follow our social media pages for regular updates on what is going on in regards to this. All that we ask is for your continued support and understanding, and as soon as we can safely lift our visiting restrictions, we will do.