Dear Family & Friends
Our update to you this week takes the form of the following FAQ document. This has been produced in response to our request for any questions that you wished us to address for you.
Thank you so very much for your overwhelmingly positive response to this request but also for your honest viewpoints. We hope this document answers some of your outstanding queries. However, as always you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org for a personal response to anything we have not managed to cover here.
In other news, the cases of symptomatic residents and staff have dropped considerably in the time since we last sent you an update. This is clearly something to be hopeful about and we truly hope the downwards trend continues in the coming weeks.
Many thanks once again and please find the FAQ section by clicking here.
Dear Family and Friends
Firstly, thank you all very much for your continued support and patience at this time. We understand the worry and frustration you must all be feeling as a result of the homes being closed. Although we are trying very hard to keep you all in touch by phone, email and Skype, we realise that this is a poor substitute to a visit. However, it remains as the very safest course of action at the present time and forms one part of a number of proactive strategies to protect the residents.
We’d like to update you as to the potential cases of Coronavirus is our care homes currently. Our staff numbers remain stable in terms of the provision of care. In actual fact, the number of staff in self-isolation has dropped in the last seven days. Many staff who have experienced Covid-19 type symptoms have completed a period of time away from work and they are slowly now returning to duty. We are confident that staffing will continue to remain stable, largely due to the government’s stance on our staff being classed as essential key workers.
A number of residents across both care homes are presenting with Covid-19 type symptoms and as such are being carefully nursed. Our policy includes a more stringent internal ‘lockdown’ procedure for any house upon which a symptomatic resident resides. This action is taken in line with all published guidance and in joint consultation with our GPs and other multi-disciplinary teams such as in the NHS and Public Health England. The houses which are currently closed are:
West Park – Vida Grange
Waterside – Vida Grange
Victoria – Vida Grange
Meadow View – Vida Hall
If your loved one is affected, you will be notified privately. In terms of testing, the hospital has carried out some limited testing on a small number of patients who have been admitted to hospital with Covid-19 symptoms. Of those residents, one tested as positive at Vida Grange. As you know, testing is not widespread in the UK and we currently have no access to testing kits for our homes. Therefore, anyone at our care homes who displays symptoms, however mild, is being treated and nursed as a Covid-19 patient in order to minimise the risk to others.
We have a number of strategies in place to tackle the spread of infection. These include strict infection control procedures and the use of PPE for care interactions with symptomatic residents. Please be assured that we currently have adequate stocks of PPE and we are working jointly with our suppliers and the NHS to try and prevent deficits in this area.
We have supplied uniforms as a temporary measure and these are retained in house to be processed through our special ozone laundry cycles. Staff continue to be greeted upon arrival at work where strict handwashing procedures are supervised prior to starting work. We are restricting staff movement within the buildings and we are only using agency staff who are working at Vida currently.
The emotional welfare of our residents and staff is also paramount at this time. We are working tirelessly to provide a program of activities for the residents which provides emotional support and meaningful connection at this time.
It is clear that we are now in the midst of the most serious challenge we have faced since Vida began. However, we are proud of all of our staff who have rallied together and are looking after each and every resident in the most exceptional way. The selflessness, kindness, creativity and total dedication of staff means that residents are receiving the quality of care you all expect from Vida.
As previously mentioned, we are working collaboratively with a number of multi-disciplinary teams. Specifically, we will be working to support the NHS as the crisis progresses to help them reduce the pressure on hospital beds and to bring our residents home from hospital as quickly as possible. I’m sure you will understand that this isn’t an easy process but we have specific guidance which is followed to the letter in each case of admission/readmission to ensure this process if carried out safely. Further details in relation to this can be accessed using the following link:
Finally, a note regarding the Family Contingency Team. We are so grateful to all volunteers who have stepped forward to offer their help. Currently as our staffing is very stable, it would be a greater risk to you and the residents currently if we proceeded with this plan. However, we continue to monitor this very carefully and will not hesitate to let you all know should the time come when we really need your help. In the meantime, if you haven’t signed up but feel you might be able to help in a crisis, please do get into contact.
We would like to reassure you that despite the challenges we are all facing, we will continue to place the residents at the heart of every decision and choice we make.
Thank you for trusting us at a time that I know is very difficult for you all and we look forward to seeing back at Vida in the very near future. As always, if you have any questions, please get in touch.
The Board of Directors
To All Care Homes
All hospitals are strictly restricting visitors and this includes relatives and staff of care homes.
Please could we ask for your assistance in ensuring that ALL care homes to be encouraging relatives to stay at home and not attend hospital if their relative is admitted. They will be contacted if any information is needed.
Relatives may arrange to visit in exceptional circumstances by prior arrangement with the ward manager.
Dear Family and Friends
Firstly, I wish to open this communication by thanking all of you for the good grace you have shown to us in support of some very difficult decisions regarding visiting. Alas, the situation has now progressed to the point that this particular area of debate has been taken out of our hands and we are now bound by strict rules enforced by the government. Although it is very strange to not have you all in and around the homes, we are trying our best to maintain business as usual at Vida, in order to ensure the residents are still in receipt of the care and love they require now more than ever. I’m sure you will also join me in celebrating our wonderful staff who are doing everything they can to balance their own family lives with lives of the Vida family.
On a day to day basis, firstly I must tell you that a small number of residents and staff at Vida Grange and Vida Hall have or have had symptoms of the Covid-19 virus. However, as yet we have not received any formal testing to enable us to confirm if the virus is present. Rest assured though that staff levels are stable and as yet we have no problems in that area. Before the crisis began, we were already well on the way to reaching optimum staffing levels at both care homes and this is enabling us to deal with staff who need to self-isolate and staff who develop concerning symptoms.
Regardless of the above, we would still like to press ahead with swelling the ranks of the family contingency team. This may well be vital in the coming days and weeks if the situation worsens nationally. Please do contact us for further information about the plan if you feel you might be able to help. Although the qualifying criteria are very strict, perhaps it would offer some of you a vital lifeline and social opportunity during this time of relative isolation?
In other news, the press has been awash with stories relating to shortages of everything from PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to food. Vida has been working tirelessly to ensure that we do not run out of essentials. Our suppliers are the same companies we have worked with loyally for many years and in this time of crisis I am happy to report that they are assisting us fully and delivering almost as usual so far. We have made some small changes to the daily menus but this is really a precautionary measure and is also designed to ensure that we can ensure food is also available for our staff at the current time. We are mindful of the long hours many of them are working and as such, we don’t want them to worry about bringing something for lunch! In summary, all menus still offer plentiful, nutritious and delicious choices.
In order to facilitate communications with your loved ones, we have set up a Skype account for each of the homes within Vida. You can of course also telephone, however your patience is appreciated at this time. Due to the increased number of phone calls to both sites, it may take a little bit longer for you to get through.
As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Vida management team.
Stay well and I will update you further as the situation progresses.
We are pleased to share with you that Vida Healthcare is now set up and ready for Skype calls. If you would like to Skype with your loved one you will first need a Skype account. Please visit www.skype.com and sign up for a free account.
Once an account has been created, you are ready to call. Before dialling, it is important that you call the land line first Vida Grange is 01423 788770 and Vida Hall is 01423 885702 and speak to the person in charge to let them know that you will be ‘dialling’ in. This is to ensure that the tablet is free and ready to use with your loved one. It’s also to alert the person in charge to accept the ‘dial in’ invitation (an invitation must be accepted by Vida Grange or Vida Hall to accept the call). Once you’ve spoken to us you can then dial in using the relevant house email below.
The only thing we ask is for you to avoid early mornings and meal times.
Thank you for your patience whilst we have been setting Skype up in our homes.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the home.
We are continuing to monitor the current Coronavirus position and are adapting our policies and procedures accordingly in order to safeguard both staff and residents.
You will be aware that schools are set to close tomorrow so we are currently assessing the possible impact this will have on staffing levels and how we replace these potential deficits. Our recruitment process is ongoing but we are of course looking at every angle. One approach we feel would be beneficial to the community is to offer temporary roles to anyone who’s current job is threatened by the crisis such as those working in bars, restaurants etc.
If you think you know anyone who might benefit from this option please do let them have our contact details email@example.com
The Family Contingency Team concept has been received well but it is worth reiterating the purpose for these. The FCTs are simply there to assist firstly their loved ones with their care but also to help with any other tasks, such as making teas, that may allow the care staff to focus on tasks such as medication and personal care which are obviously not something family members can be involved with. We are grateful to those who are committing to our strict criteria. We do also understand that this does mean that those of you who understandably can’t meet our criteria may feel they are missing out on visiting their loved ones. We are truly very sorry about this but our policy is to simply dilute risk as much as is possible as i’m sure you understand.
A separate email will be issued shortly regarding Skype (video) calls as we are now set up to receive calls at anytime.
I will continue to update you throughout these challenging times and please be assured of our continued commitment to your loved one.
Take care and keep well.
Dear Family and Friends
The company has been monitoring the escalation of events in the UK and worldwide over the weekend and as a result we have amended our guidance issued on Friday.
With immediate effect, all visits to the home are suspended. If you would like to speak to someone about the current situation, please call:
Vida Grange – 01423 799770
Vida Hall – 01423 885702
We are also restricting our residents from leaving the building for anything other than urgent medical appointments.
Please be assured that we have not made this decision lightly and continue to have resident welfare at the heart of each decision we make. Your co-operation and understanding at this time is very much appreciated.
Vida Healthcare Limited
Dear Families and Friends
A decision has been made by the board of directors today that we will be closing to all visitors due to the current Coronavirus situation.
A further more detailed communication will be sent out to you today by the board.
Dear Family and Friends
In the week since we last contacted you all, the situation with Coronavirus has changed almost on a daily basis. Firstly, please accept my apologies if any family member has approached the company with questions which have not yet been answered. However, as a board, we have felt it necessary to take a measured and considered approach to this situation, in order to collate the most accurate information upon which to base our emergency response. As far as possible, the following information and guidance we have agreed on sharing with you all has been collated in such a way as to avoid over and under reaction, and to steer clear of misinformation to the best of our abilities. Our response to this situation is based on our current understanding of information available in the public domain from all relevant government agencies. However, it also takes a common sense view that we must continue to operate at a level which provides the least distress and disruption to lives of our residents and staff in balance with the need to do our best to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Please be aware that our response may be up or downscaled at any time at the board’s discretion. Moreover, the government has published a document with specific advice for elderly residential care and the steps that Public Health England would take in the event of the virus being confirmed in one of our homes. In any such event, we would be advised by Public Health England and you must understand that their directives would overrule any measures we may have in place at that time.
With immediate effect the following measures will be implemented;
Although we are not closing to visitors, we would respectfully request that all visits are kept to the bare minimum. Please avoid visiting in groups of two or more if possible and please observe our strict hand washing policy upon arrival. Visitors should stay within the confines of the resident’s bedroom as far as possible.
If you are symptomatic or you have been in contact with someone who is symptomatic, please do not visit our care homes until you have taken all steps as per the most up to date government guidance.
Group social gatherings and activities are suspended until further notice. This includes the cancellation of all visiting entertainers.
Routine chiropody and hairdressing appointments using the salon facilities are suspended until further notice. However, any such appointments required for urgent medical reasons can still be arranged via the management team as long as they take place in the resident’s bedroom.
The home is not currently closing to pre-arranged permanent admissions; however, all day care and new respite bookings will be suspended from Monday 16th March 2020 until further notice. Visits to the homes by potential future clients are currently suspended and will shortly be replaced by a ‘virtual’ tour.
In addition to the above, the healthcare team is currently taking advice in relation to medical services our residents receive. At this moment in time, any such arrangements have not been agreed but I will update you as soon as possible if this situation changes.
In terms of other routine business activities which would normally take place, we have also taken measures to reduce risks. These measures include amendments to our recruitment and training arrangements and cancellation of all non-urgent business meetings. The company will utilise video conferencing technologies as widely as possible and will be introducing new procedures when dealing with outside agencies such as delivery persons.
In terms of the company’s front line response in the day to day running of the home I can assure you of the following points. Firstly, that we have an emergency infection control procedure in place including strictly monitored hand hygiene policies. Secondly the use of products and technologies thought to be effective against Covid-19. This includes broad spectrum disinfection products including ‘Ozone’. The products we use have, in previous years, been an incredibly effective first line defence against outbreaks such as seasonal gastroenteritis. Although Covid-19 is new and there is relatively little research available, the products we use are marketed as being effective against other pathogens including viruses. We must therefore trust that these products are likely also effective against this new virus.
In terms of supply lines, we are currently unaware of any serious issue which will compromise our supplies of essential items such as food. We are well stocked with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and cleaning supplies. There is conflicting evidence currently available in relation to the value of using face masks. I will not explain all sides of this issue now but please note that should we be advised that the use of face masks is prudent, we do have a stock of these.
In relation to our response if and when a case of Covid-19 is confirmed in one of houses, the following information will be relevant. In the case of staff, we have issued strict guidance relating to self-isolation of the affected person/s. In the case of resident/s being affected, we have all the necessary government documentation available to assist us in taking the correct clinical actions. Due to the complex nature of dementia and the challenges this poses, this response will need to be carefully tailored to our unique situations. The current guidance in this respect will require us to contact Public Health England who would then instruct us directly.
I would also like to assure you of our continued commitment to all of your loved ones, and the extended Vida family including yourselves and our staff. Our staff are our most valuable asset at this time and we are doing our best to ensure that they are supported and enabled to continue in the provision of excellent care to our residents.
I will update you as and when new information becomes available. In summary, at the present time I am confident that Vida Healthcare Limited is as fully prepared as it is possible to be in this ever changing, uncertain situation. I also realise that this document may leave a few questions outstanding as each of you and the resident you represent is unique. Please therefore feel free to contact me (preferably by email – firstname.lastname@example.org ) with any questions you may have and I will do my best to assist.
With warm regards,
Vida Healthcare Limited
Dear Families & Friends
Following today’s board meeting regarding Covid-19, we are finalising our action plan this evening based on current information, research and guidance from the government. The findings of this will now be collated and we will contact you all tomorrow to issue you with our updated family information memo.
With kind regards,
UPDATED MARCH 5TH
You will no doubt be aware of the growing concerns in respect to how Covid-19 Coronavirus may start to affect daily life in the UK. It is also clear that the elderly population is at greater risk from the infection than other age groups.
With the above in mind, Vida Healthcare Limited is currently finalising details of our emergency plans to be implemented in case of the outbreak reaching our care homes. We are in consultation with a number of relevant organisations including the hospital infection control team, the local authority and the CQC. In addition, our plans will closely follow guidance published by Public Health England.
In the meantime, the most important thing you can all do to help us right away is to follow all standard guidance that has been issued to the general public as follows:
If you have been to an affected place in the last 14 days or had contact with someone with Coronavirus, and you have any of these symptoms:
– Shortness of breath
If yes, to protect yourself and others please go ‘NHS Coronavirus’ for advice and access to 111 online or call NHS 111. You can find out more at gov.uk/coronavirus.
In addition, when visiting our homes, we would like to politely request that you wash your hands thoroughly prior to entering any of the houses and also at regular intervals during your visit. Alcohol gel is also widely available throughout the homes for use in between hand washing. This is a valuable resource we can use to combat the spread of infection but please remember that hand washing is absolutely key and is the front-line defence against the prevention of infection reaching our residents.
Thank you for your co-operation.