Care home providers look after some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and are fully aware of the risks COVID-19 places both on staff and residents. So, what should care providers do to protect their employees and residents?
Mei-Ling Huang, a partner in the social care team at law firm Royds Withy King, has reviewed the advice from government and healthcare professionals and has summarised best practice.
“To date, the advice has been quite broad and largely left to the discretion of individual care providers,” she comments. “Staff, residents and visitors are encouraged to practice good hygiene and those that present symptoms are required to self-isolate for up to 14 days, possibly longer. It is likely, for example, that the over 70s will be required to self-isolate for up to four months.
“The question, however, that care providers are increasingly asking themselves is whether they should restrict non-essential visitors from entering care homes. Barchester Healthcare has announced that it is to restrict all non-essential visits to its premises across the UK. Others will undoubtedly follow.
“Those healthcare providers that do restrict visits will need to think carefully about the tone and message to both reassure staff, residents and their families. In addition to residents’ physical health, care providers will need to give consideration to their mental wellbeing too.
“There will be times where it may be appropriate to lift those restrictions, for example on compassionate or end of life situations. There are also certain groups and individuals where access cannot be restricted – for example, the CQC who have a statutory right to enter and inspect care homes. They are, however, few and far between.
“It is a rapidly changing environment and until government provides clearer guidelines, the decisions care providers take will rest with the management teams, and that means trusting your instincts.”
You can read the latest government advice here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response