Barchester Healthcare and the UK Coronavirus outbreak

Coroanvirus

This page was last updated on 21st May. 

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

The health, safety and wellbeing of our Residents, Patients and Staff are always our top priorities and are continuing with our robust and comprehensive contingency plans to respond to the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. Our plans will be kept under regular review and updated as advised by the Public health authorities.

We are playing our part in the wider care sector and supporting the NHS where possible. We are currently still taking admissions into our care homes for those that need care in the next 4 weeks, so please do give your local Barchester care home a call if you are looking for care or need any further help. We want to assure you that when we are admitting new residents and patients from the community, we have clear protocols in place to ensure that if they haven’t been tested they will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19, and if appropriate to move in, will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.  In line with government guidance, any hospital admission or readmission have to be tested before being accepted into our care. We have clear protocols in place depending on the outcome of the test, to ensure the safety of all our residents and patients.

This page details the latest guidance from Barchester Healthcare about the steps that we are taking 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 England, Public Health Wales, or Health Protection Scotland.

Our current visiting guidelines for Barchester Healthcare homes or hospitals

To support our residents, patients and staff during this period of uncertainty with coronavirus COVID-19, we are asking for your help and support as we are asking that we have no visitors, except healthcare professionals but instead have video calling in our homes as we know how important it is to stay in touch.

It is important to ensure that we keep you and your loved ones as safe as possible as we know that this virus is very contagious. We will still ensure that vital medical visits are made ensuring that they wash their hands on entering and we will be asking all visitors to ensure they have no symptoms and will be taking their temperature.

All of our homes and hospitals have now been set up for video calling to enable you to keep in touch and we are confident that our staff will do all they can to ensure that life in our services remains as comfortable and sociable as possible as we support them with delivering interactive activities, whilst practicing physical distancing.

We are, unfortunately, unable to let you know when you will be able to visit your loved ones again. We appreciate that there have been some slight release on restrictions in England announced by the Government, this is for meeting in public places only with one other person, and therefore we are not in a position to change anything currently. We will continually ensure we do everything we can to keep our residents and patients safe and well, but rest assured we are planning for the day when you can visit, and preparing a booking system to ensure that everyone is able to visit their loved ones, as appropriate.  We will provide more detail when we know more, and please be reassured that we realise how important this is, and will do all we can to enable it to happen, whilst balancing the safety of our residents and patients. In the meantime please continue to support us by not visiting, and continue to use the video calling service we have.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us on our helpline on coronahelpline@barchester.com and please call the home or hospital if you would like to speak to a loved one.

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 follow this simple guidance:

  • If you are displaying symptoms please do not visit
  • Hand washing - It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly before you visit the care home, and regularly whilst you are at the home. 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 and will provide you with personal protection equipment (PPE) that must be worn at all times. In addition, a staff member will escort you to the relevant area and back again.

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 and we wanted to address some of the things that we are doing.

Our staff are all trained in infection control and are vigilant to the symptoms of COVID-19.  We have a clear process should a resident, patient or member of staff show such symptoms and, to date, all of our staff have been brilliant in following this. If a resident or patient is showing symptoms of  COVID-19 staff will follow medical advice, and only on confirmation that they are negative will they come back to the home or hospital, or if we are confident that we have sufficient and appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) to care for them in the home or hospital.  The resident or patient will be cared for using stringent infection control practices, and with appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) until we are confident that they are not contagious. Please be reassured that our staff are trained in this practice, and we are confident that the right procedures will be followed to keep everyone as safe and well as possible.

Confirmation of cases

We have had, and continue to have, residents and patients confirmed with COVID-19, and tragically we have had residents and patients that have sadly passed away from this awful virus.  Every one of these deaths is a tragedy for all of us, and we send our heartfelt condolences to our residents, patients, and their families that have suffered.

We recognise how important it is, particularly when you can’t visit, to ensure that you are aware of the situation regarding COVID-19 in the home or hospital where your loved one lives, and we are doing our best to ensure that you are kept informed.  Should a case arise a letter will be sent to you informing you that the home or hospital has a resident or patient who has contracted COVID-19, and outlining what we are doing to keep them, and our other residents and patients as safe and well as possible.  If we need to contact you about your loved one, we will 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.  As you are aware we have stopped external visits, and therefore some of the activities that happen through external provision are not happening, and outings are not taking place.  Instead we have weekly activity plans going to our homes and hospitals, with new ways of keeping everyone active, including a number of virtual activities whilst ensuring that the group activities are smaller, adhering to physical distancing advice, and that cleanliness routines are implemented.

Nutrition in our care homes and hospitals

We also want to reassure you that we have been working with our suppliers to ensure that food provision is plentiful and that our residents and patients, your loved ones, will continue to be able to enjoy the food and drink that we offer.  Should the situation change we have contingency plans with suppliers for simplified menus but we are not in this position currently.

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.  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.

In order to ensure that our staff have the support they need to continue their great work we have been listening to understand how the impact of COVID-19 is affecting their lives. We have put in place enhanced sick pay for those who are required to self-isolate in line with the Government guidelines, and for those who are confirmed with COVID-19.  For those who do not require the above protections we will ensure that they receive a sum in recognition of their commitment in keeping our residents, and patients safe during this difficult period of time.

With the Government announcing the closure of schools we are pleased to note that our staff are recognised as key workers, and we have in place a clear process to help them action this to ensure they have the support they need for their families in order to keep caring for our residents, and patients. 

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.

Standard of care

We are ensuring that the care that we give is maintained to the standard that we all expect.  As you may know our internal audit teams are not visiting homes, and neither are the care regulators at this time, in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection.  We have, however, developed a robust assurance system involving a detailed care audit that we are asking our General Managers to do, including infection control, and a range of other key care metrics, and we have a clear reporting process, with oversight by Senior Management.  In addition, we are in frequent communication with the care regulators to advise them of the steps we are taking.  Alongside this we are still having resident meetings to ensure that the residents and patients are heard, and are able to feedback on how they are feeling, if they are able.

People living with Dementia 

As you can probably appreciate this is most difficult for our residents living with dementia, and we have implemented new 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, whilst there is always more that can be done, we feel that as a larger care home provider we are more fortunate than others that we have a robust supply chain of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) in place, which has been supplemented in small pockets by Government supply and Local Resilience Forums, and our staff are using this in accordance with the public health authority guidance.  As we have previously mentioned the use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) guidance has been changing, and, as always, we have moved quickly to deliver this.  All of our staff will now be wearing face masks as a minimum, even in our services that currently don’t have any residents or patients with COVID-19, or anyone displaying any of the symptoms related to it.  We remain confident in our supplies of this and all of our services have what they need.

Testing

We are really pleased to tell you that testing in our homes and hospitals has increased hugely. You may have heard the Health Secretary say that in England all residents and staff in care homes will be tested by early June, and we are pleased to say that more than 75% of our care homes in England are now testing staff and residents.  In our hospitals, we have already conducted some patient testing and will be commencing testing of our staff shortly. Separate arrangements are being made in our Welsh, Scottish and state of Jersey homes but they are already following a similar journey.  Testing is hugely important to help us understand the actions we need to take in managing our homes and hospitals even more safely and effectively. 

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 Coronahelpline@barchester.com