Barchester Healthcare and the UK Coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus

This page was last updated on 3rd November 2021.

To read our latest communications to residents and relatives, please click here.

The health, safety, and wellbeing of our residents, patients and staff is always our top priority and we continue to do all we can to keep our residents, patients and staff safe whilst the Coronavirus pandemic remains. Despite this we are delighted to offer a range of visiting options and have invited those offering live entertainment and activities back into our services as well as digital activities to enjoy, all within robust and comprehensive protocols with safety and wellbeing at the forefront of our minds.

We are welcoming new residents and patients into our care homes and hospitals, so please give your local Barchester care home or hospital a call if you are looking for care or need any further help. We want to assure you that when we admit new residents and patients we have clear protocols in place to ensure that it is appropriate for them to move in which includes ensuring residents, patients and staff are vaccinated before moving in or working in our homes and hospitals. We also ensure that any new residents and patients coming into our homes and hospitals, whether from a local hospital or the community, have been tested in advance and are negative for COVID-19. In line with legislation that comes into force as of 11th November 2021, we require for our care homes in England that the majority of visitors evidence that they have had two doses of an MHRA approved COVID-19 vaccine, or that they come with a specified medical exemption. Failure to provide this evidence would mean entry into the home would be refused. This regulation does not apply to existing resident’s visitors, essential care givers and emergency visits or urgent maintenance visits.

In order to reassure you, this page details the latest guidance from Barchester Healthcare about the protocols that we have implemented. This information is intended for Barchester Healthcare residents, patients, staff and any visitors to our homes and hospitals.

For comprehensive information about the coronavirus itself, please visit either the Public Health EnglandPublic Health WalesHealth Protection Scotland, or Public Health Jersey.

Our current visiting guidelines for Barchester Healthcare homes or hospitals in England, Scotland, Wales and Jersey

We are pleased to say that our homes in England, Scotland, Wales and Jersey welcome visitors in line with the latest Government guidance. Whilst Government guidance is slightly different across different countries we are committed to providing a range of visiting options both indoors and outdoors and there are no longer any restrictions on who may visit indoors. Our only ask is that for indoor visits a facemask is worn, social distancing is maintained as much as possible and testing takes place before entry. All visitors are able to test at home in advance of their visit and provide evidence of a negative test, or, alternatively, we can test visitors at the service, however this will be subject to a 30 minute wait time. For visiting outdoors or in our designated visiting suites, there is no need for testing or facemasks to be worn. All visits must continue to be booked and planned in advance and to support this, we will continue to offer our online booking system.

Indoor visiting must take place in either a designated visiting area or residents bedroom as per the government guidance, therefore please support us in keeping everyone safe in going directly to your visiting area and assist us in not moving around the home. All residents are supported to have a nominated individual that may visit indoors during a managed COVID-19 outbreak (known as essential care giver in England, named visitor in Scotland and Essential visitors in Wales). Our residents and patients can of course leave the service to spend time with their loved ones. We will support this as much as possible in line with government guidance as long as infection control protocols are followed, which usually includes testing for visitors to be evidenced and a risk assessment to be completed. If you are unclear please do speak to the Home Manager who will be happy to explain the situation to you.

Please note that, as always, visiting must be signed off by the local director of public health or local health protection team and as such, can be paused at short notice if necessary. This may result in visits being cancelled at short notice, but rest assured we will do our best to give as much notice as possible. 

Vaccinations

We are so grateful for the vaccination programme that is allowing us all to socialise and see loved ones much more, as well as enjoying some of the things that were missing in our lives. We are delighted that the majority of our residents and patients have been vaccinated where possible and we are continuing to support staff to ensure that they are fully vaccinated as we know how important that is to developing the best immunity. We will be ensuring that all new residents and patients will also be vaccinated or be willing to be vaccinated before moving in.

As you may be aware there is new Government legislation that means that from 11th November 2021 the majority of visitors coming to our homes in England must evidence that they have had two doses of an MHRA approved COVID-19 vaccine, or that they come with a specified medical exemption.  However this does not apply to existing resident’s visitors, essential care givers or emergency visits or urgent maintenance although it does remain to be our preference that all indoor visitors of residents are vaccinated wherever possible.  For those that it does apply to, such as staff, volunteers, other healthcare professionals (unless it is an emergency), failure to provide evidence would mean entry into the home would be refused.

Guidance for visiting a Barchester Healthcare home or hospital

If you are required to make an essential visit to a Barchester Healthcare home or hospital it is important that you do so safely and in a way that minimises the risk of infection to our residents, patients and staff. Therefore, before visiting and whilst on site, please ensure you comply with our meet & greet protocol upon arrival and follow this guidance:

  • Do not visit if you are currently self-isolating, have tested positive or experienced symptoms of Covid-19 in the past 14 days
  • Hand washing - Please wash your hands thoroughly before you visit the care home or hospital, on arrival and regularly while within the home or hospital for a minimum or 20 seconds, using either hot water and soap or 60% alcohol sanitiser gel. The NHS has a video guide to effective handwashing, which you can see here
  • For visits indoors when appropriate we may provide you with personal protection equipment (PPE) that must be worn at all times. In addition, a staff member may escort you to the relevant area and back again

If you are visiting outdoors please follow all guidance issued in advance and displayed during your visit, this includes maintaining social distancing at all times.

Protecting our residents, patients, and staff

We continue to test both residents, patients and staff on a regular basis in line with the country specific government guidance. Our staff are all trained in infection control and are vigilant to the symptoms of COVID-19.  We have clear processes to follow is a resident, patient or member of staff show such symptoms including isolation wherever necessary in line with government advice. Should your loved one display symptoms or test positive to Coronavirus, we would call and discuss the situation with you personally.

Keeping our residents physically, mentally and socially active

We are very aware that an important part of living in a care home or hospital is being able to socialise and enjoy physical, mental and spiritual activity that is vital for overall wellbeing. We have weekly activity plans created by our homes and hospitals that include a variety of activities, events and entertainment that stimulate mind, body and soul, both on an individual basis and in group settings, to allow everyone to stay connected and active. We are delighted that we now have the community coming into our services, which means our volunteers and local entertainment are visiting with clubs, activities and singing sessions all taking place.

As well as activities in person in the home, our residents and patients have the choice to enjoy a number of virtual events to connect with local primary schools, have virtual religious services with their local churches, as well as take delight in live entertainment through live steamed performances. We have a number of partners we work with to provide the live events including English National Ballet, Blenheim Palace, V&A Dundee to name just a few, please see more information here about our partners.

Our staff

Many of you have written to us to thank our amazing staff who are working tirelessly to ensure you and your loved ones are kept safe.  Thank you so much for doing this, it means such a lot to them and we are ensuring that these comments, whether on social media, through our helpline or to management, are fed back. Human kindness has never been so important, and our spirits have been lifted by hearing and seeing the hard work and professionalism that is happening every day.  Thank you so much for all your kind words, it means a lot to all of us, and please be assured this gets shared with our great teams.

We are proud to say that we are surrounded by a professional, skilled, dedicated, and compassionate team who are willing to put the care of our residents and patients first. We have been truly humbled by seeing everyone work together using their expertise, and positive attitude to do the right thing. If you have had a great experience please do leave a review on carehome.co.uk or Google, you can also email us at feedback@barchester.com, we share all of your lovely comments with our team members.

Monitoring Standards of Care

We are now allowing all essential support team members into our services. There are very stringent protocols for these members of staff to follow, and resident facing support staff should have a PCR test weekly plus LFD before entry on the day or twice per week, and infection control measures in place. Support staff that are non-resident facing such as Health & Safety and Property Teams should have a LFD test taken on the day of visiting or twice per week. We believe that this is the right approach for ensuring that the care we provide is to the highest standard, whilst balancing the safety of our residents, patients and staff.  The regulators are also starting to undertake inspections in our homes and hospitals which we welcome.  We have continued to have resident meetings as usual and we are having relatives meetings outside where possible.

Residents and patients living with Dementia 

As you can probably appreciate this is most difficult for our residents living with dementia, and we have implemented guidance from our Director of Dementia Care, who has been virtually supporting our well trained teams in the homes and hospitals, to implement the  guidance on how to help our residents and patients with such things as handwashing, for example.  It is all about the little things to calm and keep distress levels down.  For example whilst much of the country has been singing happy birthday whilst washing their hands we know this will confuse our residents living with dementia, and so know to sing a song familiar to them to encourage them.  

Personal Protective Equipment

Please be assured that, we continue to have a robust supply chain of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) in place, and our staff are using this in accordance with the public health authority guidance. All of our staff will now be wearing face masks as a minimum and we remain confident in our supplies of this and all of our services have what they need.

Keeping up-to-date with the latest news

With developments happening continually we are keen to keep in touch with you as best we can.  If you haven’t received information by email or text message from us, and you would like to, please could you visit www.barchester.com/update which is a secure platform, and input your details so we can ensure our database has your latest information. We may send out updates via email and text message going forward.

If you have any questions or queries please do get in touch on feedback@barchester.com.