Barchester Healthcare and the UK Coronavirus outbreak

Coroanvirus

This page was last updated on 31st March.

The health, safety and wellbeing of our Residents, Patients and Staff are always our top priorities. We have therefore put in place robust and comprehensive contingency plans to prepare for, and 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.

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.

This is 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 Skype 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 social distancing.

We understand that this is a worrying time for you, and we want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to ensure that our residents, patients and staff are as safe as possible, and we are staying close to the advice from public health authorities.

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 essential healthcare professionals 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 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 be asking to take your temperature on entering the home or hospital

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.

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, whilst ensuring that the group activities are smaller, adhering to social 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. We are doing all we can to support our staff and have recently written to the CEO’s of the supermarkets to ensure that they are able to shop at the dedicated keyworker times so that they can feed and ensure their own families are keeping safe and well.

Regarding our staffing,  although we have more staff than usual who are either sick or self isolating, we are staffing to the levels that we always do, with either overtime or other staff who work more flexibly with us, that are generally familiar with the home or hospital. We have a clear plan as to how we will continue to deliver care, which includes using the resources we have throughout Barchester, including our nurses in our remote and support teams who are more than happy to work in our homes and hospitals, if and when needed.

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.

Personal Protective Equipment

We are conscious that there has been much in the media regarding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and we want to assure you that, on the whole, we are in a good position and have further supplies coming in.  As a larger care home group we have a robust supply chain, and are in constant contact with our individual homes and hospitals to understand their position and support them accordingly.

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

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