A quick update on the new Lateral Flow Rapid Testing, vaccinations and enabling visiting.
We are sure you will be aware of the news that has stated that the government wishes to enable visiting inside care homes before Christmas.
You may also be aware that we hear these podium announcements on the news at the same time as you do, and this often puts us on the back foot as we are not given any guidance on how to make this happen safely prior to the announcement.
We do know that you are desperate to visit, and we are also unbelievably keen to make that happen for you, however our managers and directors have asked me to do a quick bulletin stating the further things that we must consider prior to going ahead with this.
Here is, very briefly, the situation as we have been told it:
- We are to be given a supply of Lateral Flow Rapid tests and PPE for visitors to use.
- We will perform this test on you as a visitor and if the test is negative you can put on a mask, apron and gloves and visit.
We appreciate that this sounds simple, however there are some issues that need to be addressed:
- Where will we find the staff to do this, when we are already stretched?
- The test is maximum 78% accurate. Meaning that for every 10 people that visit, at least 2 of them could be infectious but still test negative.
- Where do we put visitors whilst we are waiting for the test to react?
- Are we insured to test members of the public?
- Are we allowed to do this under our CQC registration? We are unsure whether we are registered to provide what is called ‘diagnostic and screening procedures’ under our current registration.
- We have been told that visits must be supervised and in a place away from other occupants of the home and we need to find staff to do this.
- If a visitor tests positive we have to deliver that news to them, which may be a shock, and then they must go immediately for a (more accurate) regular swab test.
- If a resident is expecting a visit and then their visitor tests positive how do we deal with their distress?
- The testing system appears to rely on the visitor having a smart phone and not all of our visitors have them.
- We are not sure how to deal with it if a person comes to visit on public transport and then tests positive.
- We are unsure what paperwork and/or systems we have to have in place as rapid testing system is as yet unknown to us.
- Finally, none of our homes have actually received any tests or PPE.
The above is just a sample of the questions that we are currently trying to answer.
None of these issues are insurmountable and please know that we are seeking answers to all of these questions as a matter of urgency, it just takes time, and we really appreciate your patience as we try to find a way through this.
As yet we have only the information that you will no doubt have heard on the news. We will be enabling any staff or residents who wish to have the vaccination to do so as soon as we are able, but we haven’t yet been given definite information on how this will happen.
It seems that it will roughly follow the same system as the annual ‘flu vaccinations. If it does, it’s pretty straightforward, and we will give more information when we know any.
Please forgive the brief nature of this bulletin- we wanted to communicate with you as a matter of urgency.
I will post another bulletin as soon as I have anything else that I can tell you regarding this complex and rapidly changing situation.
Tracey Holroyd RGN
Warmest Welcome Ltd company chair