The Care Home, COVID-19 Christmas 2020

The team at Swift Management would like to show our appreciation for everything that the Health and Social Care Sector has done during the pandemic, something which has affected us all.

The care home sector has without a doubt been through the mill one way and another this year, but Christmas in a care home is a special time and one to be celebrated and a time for residents and their families to make memories. This year more than ever before the importance being placed on Christmas is real.

In recent weeks we have heard about the significant advances in the vaccines being developed and at the time of writing one has now been approved for use by the MRHA. The first dose has now been administered. We acknowledge the difficulties that the NHS will face administering the vaccination programme across the country and especially to care home residents and staff. Even though the the second dose offering protection will not have been administered by Christmas.

There has been turmoil in some areas as care home have been advised that Christmas decorations should not be permitted. Something that is vital for those living with dementia to help them understand it is Christmas are visual cues. This has now been reneged by many local authorities which is good news for those involved. Whilst there is a need to keep the elderly and vulnerable protected from harm, they also need to enjoy a special time of year in their own homes. Risk assessment seems to be the name of the game here.

Visiting is another real issue this Christmas and for many families this is a crucial opportunity to make memories. This year has been difficult not only for the residents in care homes but for their families also.

We know that many care homes have done a brilliant job across the months, organising window visits and organising safe visiting space to offer non-contact visits. Some care homes are now able to offer rapid testing for visitors, which has come under criticism from some quarters relating to accuracy. Not all care homes have this facility yet. This has been causing concern to families and staff alike as so many relatives just simply want to give their loved ones a hug.

At this point I think it is only reasonable to give a little thought to the home managers who have spent the year, arranging testing for residents and staff, keeping staff movement to a minimum, completing additional documentation to obtain the infection control grant, managing staff sickness reporting issues to the regulators and implementing safe spaces and arranging visits when possible. Oh, and we should not forget the myriad of additional risk assessments. That said for Christmas to go as well as possible we are suggesting that there may be even more risk assessments to be done.

For those homes who want to give their residents the best possible Christmas whilst keeping them safe and well, the key for many will be undertaking individual risk assessments mitigating the risk of cross infection for residents and families to facilitate visits as we await a larger rollout of rapid tests and vaccinations.

We really hope that residents, relatives, and staff can have a great Christmas period, whilst keeping everyone safe. The power of touch is so important especially to the elderly and hopefully it will be possible soon.

Finally, thank you again to all care home staff, from housekeeping, catering, care and administration to management. You are amazing!