Barchester Healthcare and the UK Coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus

This page was last updated on 11th January.

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 are continuing with our robust and comprehensive response to Coronavirus. Our plans are kept under regular review and are updated as and when advised by the public health authorities.

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. 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 COVID-19.

In order to reassure you, this page details the latest guidance from Barchester Healthcare about the protocols that we have implemented in our homes and hospitals. 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

Following further changes in Government guidance we have been working hard to ensure we are aligned to this and understanding what that means for ensuring we keep our residents, patients and you, their loved ones, as safe as possible.

Whilst we are delighted that all of our homes and hospitals now have a visiting suite to enable visiting in a COVID secure environment for residents and patients, we are conscious that visiting is more restricted in places than we had hoped it would be and all of our visiting must be signed off by the local director of public health or local health protection team. In England, with all areas now in national lockdown, visiting outdoors and at windows is still permitted as well as visiting suites if agreed. In Scotland, with the majority of areas now in Level 4 we are able to continue to allow for one household to visit at windows and outdoors and visiting may be possible in visiting suites. In Wales, with all areas now in alert Level 4, we are able to continue to allow for one visitor to visit at windows and outdoors and visiting may be possible in visiting suites if signed off by local health protection teams. In Jersey, unfortunately it still remains as end of life visiting only at this time.

We are aware that the visiting suite is not a solution for those residents and patients whose mobility means that they are unable to use them, and whilst the majority of our services now have the lateral flow device tests available for them to use to allow limited indoor visiting, unfortunately this is not currently permitted for those in England, Scotland, Wales and Jersey. Please continue to keep in contact via video calling wherever is possible if visiting is not possible at this time.

Our visitor booking system has now been rolled out to all our services. This enables the teams to manage visiting as effectively as possible, and also allows you, as the visitor, an easy to use system to plan your visits.  This will enable you to book visits online for those able, and enable us to manage the volume of visitors and track and trace in a more co-ordinated way. If you do not have access to the internet there will be an option to telephone to secure a visiting slot.

For those able to have visit, we offer each resident at least one visit per week for at least 30 minutes.

Please note, the General Manager or Hospital Director may postpone visits at any time without notice, should they be advised to do so for the safety of all as instructed by government or local public health authorities. 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. 

We are doing our very best to keep the infection out of our homes and hospitals, and therefore have made a number of decisions regarding who can visit indoors, which was already very limited.   For the essential visits from healthcare professionals we are doing our best to ensure that a negative COVID-19 test result is in place.

Vaccinations

We were delighted to hear the news over the Christmas period of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine being authorised by the Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which was described as being a ‘game changer’ in the fight against the pandemic, and for the rollout of the vaccination programme in primary care.  As we’re sure you are aware this is expected to be much easier to administer logistically than the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and our staff, residents and patients are already undertaking vaccinations using either products authorised by MHRA, as and when they are called upon.  As you will have heard through the Government announcements, social care and particularly care home residents and staff, are a priority for vaccinations which means that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we are hopeful that the programme will be rolled out quickly, to help keep our residents, patients and staff protected, and as safe as possible.

This is such an important milestone, and once again our staff are stepping up to the challenge of supporting our residents and patients in receiving this.  In addition we are very proud that they are taking personal responsibility in getting vaccinated themselves as soon as is possible, and we continue to be very thankful for the great care, ongoing commitment and passion to protect both themselves and our residents and patients, that they continue to demonstrate.

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 - It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly before you visit the care home or hospital, and on arrival as well as regularly if you enter the home or hospital. Please make sure you wash your hands 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
  • We will also ask to take your temperature. For some 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

Many of you have asked us what our approach is to ensuring that our staff and residents are kept safe and well. As you know we have been at the forefront of testing, as we believe this is the best way to keep our residents, patients and staff as safe as possible. We are testing both residents, patients and staff on a very regular basis with PCR tests being used every 28 days for residents in England, Wales and Jersey, and every week for staff in all of our services, along with an additional two Lateral Flow Device tests for staff every week too.  Whilst it is recognised that the Lateral Flow Device tests are not as accurate, in conjunction with the PCR tests which are very accurate, they are an added level of information that can help to limit transmission, and we are very supportive of that, particularly with the knowledge of the new, more transmissible variant of COVID-19 that is now circulating throughout the UK.

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 and mentally 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 smaller group settings, to keep everyone active. Our residents and patients have a choice to enjoy a number of virtual events with some connecting to local primary schools through Zoom and having regular virtual religious services, as well as enjoying singing and drama live steamed performances. More recently, we have partnered with Blenheim Palace and English National Ballet and a number of other external cultural organisations to provide a host of live historical and social talks, performances and workshops for our residents and patients to enjoy. To keep everyone safe we are adhering to physical distancing advice and as of such our group activities are smaller and strict cleanliness routines are implemented with every activity.

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

As we take a cautious and phased approach to managing COVID-19, we are allowing limited numbers of internal teams into our services for example our Regional Directors, Quality Improvement and Hospitality team members.  There are very stringent protocols for these members of staff to follow, including fortnightly testing for COVID-19, and infection control protocols.  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.  We will be monitoring the situation carefully.  The regulators are also starting to undertake inspections in our homes and hospitals.  We have continued to have resident meetings as usual and we are having virtual relatives meetings where possible.

People 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.