7 Common Concerns About Coronavirus When Choosing a Care Home

If you are in the process of searching for a care home for a loved one, understandably, you will have questions surrounding Coronavirus and visiting regulations.

We have collated 7 of your common concerns below and have provided information which we hope will provide you with a little bit of certainty during these difficult times.

  1. 1. “I’m worried about moving my loved one into a care home that has current cases of Coronavirus…”

Care homes are obliged to tell you if there are confirmed cases of Coronavirus in their home at the point of admission. Some homes are shutting to new admissions if either a member of staff or a resident has a positive Covid test.

Care homes are still allowed to admit new residents in spite of having confirmed Covid cases in their home. Any residents with Covid regardless of whether they’re showing symptoms or are asymptomatic should be isolated in their own room, with a bathroom if possible. It is preferable that residents with Coronavirus are isolated on a separate floor/wing of the home & staff that attend these residents do not care for other residents in the home.

If you do not feel comfortable proceeding with a care home whilst there is a known outbreak of Coronavirus you are completely within your rights not to go ahead with an admission.

  1. 2. “Should I avoid considering care homes that have had past cases of Coronavirus for my relative?...”

Lots of care seekers want to know that the home has a 100% covid-clear record before considering it as an option for their family member. Although there are a number of home’s who are rightly proud that have stayed Coronavirus free, TrustedCare would advise against using this as the only marker by which to choose a home.

Some home’s managed to stay covid-clear at the beginning of the pandemic by their care staff taking the extraordinary decision to move into the home, effectively isolating themselves from friends and family so they could limit the risk of catching Coronavirus and spreading it among the residents. Alongside this, home’s shut their doors to any new admissions. As neither of these measures are sustainable long-term, it’s better to look at the measures home’s currently have in place to limit the risk of Coronavirus being brought into the home.

When considering a home you may want to ask the following:

  • What is your policy for admitting new residents?
  • What infection-control measures do you have in place to limit the risk of Coronavirus coming into the home?
  • What is your process for isolating known Covid-19 cases in your home and shielding other residents?

  1. 3. “Will I be allowed to visit my loved one once they have moved into a care home?...”

At the time of writing, the UK has entered a second national lockdown. Unlike the first lockdown, care homes are being encouraged by the government to continue facilitating visits between residents and family members if they can do so in a ‘Covid’ secure way.

During the summer months, most care homes have been favouring garden visits with social distancing in place. For obvious reasons, this may not be an appropriate suggestion during the wetter, colder months of the year.

The latest government guidance gives the following suggestions to care homes so visiting can continue:

  • Using secure visiting pods with floor-to-ceiling screens and separate entrances for visitors & residents
  • Window-visits; either visitors at resident windows or with visitors staying in their car with the resident outside
  • Outdoor visits with 1 visitor; outdoor area needs to be accessible without walking through care home
  • Virtual visits

It’s anticipated that there will be restrictions around care home visiting until there is a Covid-19 vaccine or herd immunity is reached. With the severity of restrictions being dictated by national/local lockdowns. At the time of enquiring into care, be sure to ask questions about the home’s current visitor policy.

4. “Will my relative be required to complete 2 weeks of shielding/isolation upon moving into a care home?...”

All care & nursing homes are required to isolate new residents upon admission, regardless of whether they’re coming from hospital or their own home. This is a dictate from Public Health England to minimise the risk of new residents bringing Coronavirus into the home.

Most care/nursing homes require a negative COVID test upon admission alongside the 14-day isolation period. Some homes may allow new residents to forego the initial 14 day isolation if it has already been undertaken in a different setting.

Care providers are trying to do all they can to make the required isolation period as comfortable as possible for new residents. Residents will have lots of contact with care staff in full PPE. Some home’s are allowing residents to have one designated visitor per day during their isolation period. This person will also be required to have had a negative COVID test, wear PPE and maintain social distancing whilst visiting for a limited time in the resident’s room.

  1. 5. “My relative has dementia and I am worried that they won’t understand the 2 week shielding period...”

Most dementia specialist homes will fully understand the difficulties a 2-week shielding period presents to individuals with dementia. Some homes have opted to ‘over-staff’ their homes, so they have the capacity to provide 1:1 support during the shielding period. Other care home’s have an ‘isolation wing’ of the home, so new residents with dementia have more freedom to roam.

It’s best to speak with the home you are enquiring into to see what measures they have in place to support new residents with dementia during their shielding window.

6. “My relative will be receiving end of life care and I wish to be by their side during their final days - are care homes making exceptions for visits in such cases?...”

In spite of very strict visiting rules during the UK’s first lockdown, visiting to residents with end-of-life care needs were without restrictions. The home will likely insist on PPE being worn but will do their utmost to facilitate visits for close family members.

  1. 7. “What will happen if my relative gets Coronavirus in a care home?...”

Most care homes are testing staff members every week for Covid-19 & residents every 4 weeks. If your relative tests positive for Covid-19 after becoming a resident they will be immediately shielded from other residents and cared for in their room.

Your relative will be closely monitored & all going well, they will make a full recovery whilst undergoing a 14-day shielding period again. Should their symptoms worsen, they will likely be admitted to hospital.

In the instance that your relative tests positive but is asymptomatic, they will still be shielded in their rooms for 14 days & a negative covid swab is needed before socialising with fellow residents.

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