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How are care homes in Sunderland working with Public Health during the pandemic around visitors to homes?

30/10/2020

A member of the general public asked us how care homes in Sunderland are working with Public Health during the pandemic around visitors into the homes.
We received the following response from Public Health on 2nd October 2020
 
"The guidance was published on 22nd July, and updated on 21st September.
 
In line with the guidance the ultimate decision on whether or not to allow visitors, and in what circumstances, is an operational decision for the provider / manager of each care home (unless national regulations instruct they should not take place - currently Sunderland and other areas of the North East are under local interventions).  The care home decision on visiting should be informed by national guidance and the professional assessment as the local Director of Public Health.
 
When visits are taking place they need to happen in a way which limits risk, including limiting visits to a single constant visitor per resident wherever possible.   The guidance details the steps which need to be taken by providers and managers before any care home can open up to visitors and the practical arrangements which need to be in place for any visits taking place.  These actions are summarised below and more detail can be found in the guidance.
Before opening up to visitors care homes need to:
 
• Complete a dynamic risk assessment which takes into account the significant vulnerability of residents (this could also include an assessment of risk of contracting COVID-19 for individual residents).
• Establish a visiting policy, based on the risk assessment, which incorporates infection prevention and control precautions.
• Communicate the visiting policy and any policies for particular individuals or groups of residents to residents, staff and visitors.
• Ensure visits between residents and their visitors operate fully in line with the latest infection prevention and control guidance, including provisions relating to the use of designated areas for visits, the use of social distancing practices, good hand hygiene and use of PPE for visitors and residents.
 
Care homes need to review their visiting policy regularly and will need to change the position in response to any future advice from the Director of Public Health, any change to their dynamic risk assessment or updated national guidance.
All care homes received a letter from the Director of Public Health on 10th of September to advise that following an increase in confirmed coronavirus cases in Sunderland and across the North East visiting to the care home should be suspended until further notice.  We continue to monitor the situation, but as above this is advice and not a directive."

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