Published: 06:06, 30 June 2020
| Updated: 14:16, 30 June 2020
Choosing a care home is an important decision, especially given the risks posed by Covid-19, but nursing home provider Hythe Care has been at the forefront of managing health and safety during the outbreak from the outset.
Even ahead of lockdown, the company put in place a rigorous new admissions policy to ensure the health and safety of its existing residents and staff.
All hospital referrals were refused until they could provide a negative swab test within 24 hours of discharge. Hythe Care purchased their own World Health Organization-approved PCR swab tests for residents' referrals from home or other care homes carried out by their experienced and qualified nurse staff.
“We have put strict safety procedures in place when accepting new residents to include swab tests to ensure negative results before admission. We require a 14-day isolation period where the resident will benefit from in-room dining and dedicated key workers who will safely monitor them for any relevant symptoms. Our care staff ensure that throughout this period our new residents continue to enjoy any hobbies or interests that we can support them with and customise daily activities specifically for them.”
The owners of Saltwood Care Centre, Hythe View and Balgowan House also closed their doors to all but essential visitors back in March; invested heavily in Personal Protective Equipment and maintained strict infection control procedures, while staff and residents were also monitored regularly for symptoms, tested and asked to self-isolate if needed.
Hythe Care chief executive Julian Ball credits their ability to continue to welcome new residents to the prompt action and safety measures put in place even before lockdown was announced.
He said: “We insisted on testing for all potential residents and only those who have tested negative for Covid-19 are admitted, after a thorough risk assessment. New residents are also monitored in self-isolation for 14 days.”
The government has said that all care homes in England will now be able to access ‘whole care home testing’ for residents and staff, whether they have symptoms or not - but Hythe Care has been providing temperature checks for staff and swab testing for those with symptoms ahead of that.
“This is a worrying time for the whole community, and we want families to feel confident to move a relative into any of our three homes,” he added.
“We believe our strict testing admission policy together with our committed approach to infection control and use of PPE have been fundamental in keeping our homes safe.
“The lockdown for the wider population is being eased but our protocols for cleaning, personal hygiene, utilisation of PPE and social distancing measures continue with the same heightened focus and attention.
“We’re very proud of our dedicated staff and managers. It’s because of them we can continue to provide the utmost care and support for our residents with as little disruption as possible.”
Located on Tanners Hill, Saltwood Care Centre has 66 bedrooms, while Hythe View on North Road and Balgowan House, close to Saltwood Village Green, both provide care for 40 residents.
“Choosing a care home is an important decision with lots of factors to consider,” said Naomi Dickson, manager of Saltwood Care Centre.
“I’m here to help and want to encourage potential residents and their families to call and speak to me. I can also provide a limited visit to the home if visitors wear PPE.
“We realise it’s important for families to be able to keep in touch with their loved ones and video calls are proving invaluable. Seeing that familiar face is comforting for residents, it’s also hugely reassuring for families to be able to see how their relatives are doing, and to know they’re well and looked after.”
Recently, managers have also added ‘meet the team’ videos to the website and Facebook pages so families can get to know the staff who will be caring for their loved one.
For families whose loved ones are at the care homes, safety measures and keeping in touch have been invaluable.
One, whose mother is at Hythe View, said: “It’s such a relief knowing that mum and everyone is being kept safe in these horrible times. Living so far away and not being able to see her is really difficult for me, but the staff at Hythe View send me regular updates and photos of mum, which really helps.”
Another said: “As much as I would love to see mum, I fully support the decision to remain in lockdown. Having got this far safely it would be such a shame if all the hard work was undone. The whole team have all done amazingly well in keeping everyone safe and well.”
Areas of the country have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak in different degrees, with the Folkestone and Hythe area seeing far less Covid-19 deaths in care homes than the national average.
Latest figures show there are 1,622 registered care home beds in Folkestone and Hythe, and there have been 22 coronavirus-related care home deaths.
To find out more about Hythe Care and inquire about the care available go to hythecare.com