COVID-19 (Coronavirus) UPDATE

This page is for anyone who requires information and updates about how we are dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic across HICA care homes, retirement living and community group services.

Update October 13th 2020.

Due to the new government regulations that were announced on Monday 12th October and the introduction of the new Three Tier System in England, changes may have occurred. As our services are located across a large area of England, we have services that are on different Tiers. Please contact your local service if you wish to confirm which tier they are on. Information about different localities and what tiers they fall under can be found on the Government website here

Also you can read and download posters about Alert Level Guidance here.

We continue to closely monitor government guidance around coronavirus (COVID-19) and our response as a landlord, care and support provider, and employer. We continue to keep our website updated with changes to our services. Please be assured that the health and safety of residents, their families and our staff remain our priority and we will not make any changes unless a full risk assessment has been carried out.

Update July 23rd 2020.

We recognise that lockdown has been difficult for many residents and families over the past few months and that visits are important for all those in our care settings.

As you will no doubt have seen, the government have released guidelines and principles for re-opening of care homes to visitors. We are looking forward to allowing of visits, in line with government guidance on visiting and the shielding of those deemed extremely clinically vulnerable. Please be assured we are taking the necessary measures to ensure our colleagues, residents and volunteers are not put at any unnecessary risk.

We are looking forward to welcoming you back, although for matters of safety and to prevent cross infection, we have had to put in place the following measures.

We have coordinated a phased cautious approach to re-introducing visitors to our care homes. Where a home or scheme has an active outbreak we will follow all advice from Public Health England and the local public health protection team or if a service i in a location experiencing a regional lockdown, it will remain closed to visitors until Public Health advise that they are able to open again.

If there is a regional lockdown in place, you will not be able to visit loved ones. Please follow local information and if you are unsure please contact the home for more information. In these cases, the end of an outbreak will be defined when Public Health declare the local lockdown is over. This is to account for national differences and changing guidance. If the home has an outbreak, we will not be able to open until we have complete a time period with no one further presenting with symptoms

Read our latest advice and information about how our services are responding to the coronavirus outbreak:

Information for relatives and family members of residents in our care homes

1. My family member is a resident in one of your care homes, can I visit them?

We recognise the distress the past few months have caused both our relatives and residents in not being able to physically be with each other and want to relieve that as soon as we can do so safely.

HICA has been welcoming back relatives to our homes for outdoor visits over the past few weeks.

We are currently working through a number of complex risks and issues to enable visits to start inside our homes as soon as possible. We have to make sure we get the balance right between getting back to welcoming family and friends back to our homes and making sure our residents and staff are safe. We will need to limit the numbers of visitors to a single constant visitor per resident, wherever possible. This, for example, means the same family member visiting each time to limit the number of different individuals coming into contact. This is in order to limit the overall number of visitors to the care home and/or to the individual, and the consequent risk of infection. Once we have established all processes for visiting, you will be contacted and asked who is the nominated visitor, and we will arrange a booked visit. Subsequent visits can be booked by contacting the home. Please note, ad hoc visits cannot be enabled.

Please note - any home with an active outbreak of coronavirus will continue to be closed for visitors. Any homes that have previously had confirmed coronavirus cases will need to have had 28 days with no new cases or symptoms before opening to visitors.

If there is a regional lockdown in place, you will not be able to visit loved ones. Please follow local information and if you are unsure please contact the home for more information. In these cases, the end of an outbreak will be defined when Public Health declare it is over.

2. What is the process for visiting my family member?

Once we have liaised with relevant health and social care partners, including local authorities and public health, we e will be allowing visitors to book a slot in advance to arrange a care home garden or inside visit. We will provide the necessary PPE and we will facilitate the visit in accordance with the 2-metre social distancing. The visit will be conducted within a specific area of the home or the resident’s personal bedroom. As per government guidelines, visitors should have no contact with other residents and minimal contact with care home staff (less than 15 minutes / 2 metres). Where needed, conversations with staff can be arranged over the phone following an in-person visit

Please contact your individual home to confirm a visitor appointment during office hours. There is further information contained within this page on visitor guidance. Please read this information before calling the home. Full contact details for all our care homes can be accessed via our website: www.hica-uk.com

3. What measures are you taking to ensure it is safe?

Before allowing visitors to see relatives, all our homes will conduct individual risk assessments to ensure the highest control measures are in place to maintain the safety of our relatives, visitors and our colleagues. The following guidance must be adhered to by any relative or family member wishing to visit one of our homes:

  • No visiting will be permitted if you are displaying any COVID-19 symptoms i.e. feeling unwell, a new / continuous cough, sickness or diarrhoea within the last 48 hours, a raised temperature, changes in taste and / or smell. You will be asked to complete a health declaration form on your first visit, and for every subsequent visit, which will include you to complete details to enable track and trace testing if required in the future. We will not hold this information any longer than clinically relevant
  • Family members must not visit if they have been identified as a contact of a positive case and must self-isolate for 14 days.
  • You must book a time slot with the home. Visiting outside this slot won’t be permitted.
  • Where possible, please walk, use your own transport or use a taxi firm that demonstrates safe Covid-19 practices to visit your loved one. Please wherever possible avoid using public transport.
  • Please ensure you use the toilet prior to visiting as there will be no access to the toilet within the care home during the visit.
  • Where available, you may be asked to use an alternative entrance designated for family members only (this will be dependent on the home).
  • Upon arrival, you will be given a copy of these guidance points for your visit.
  • Your booked visit will last for approximately 30 minutes maximum, to allow all residents access to loved ones.
  • We will need to limit the numbers of visitors to a single constant visitor per resident, wherever possible. This, for example, means the same family member visiting each time to limit the number of different individuals coming into contact
  • You will be required to use hand washing facilities or alcohol gel prior to and after the visit; if using hand washing facilities there will be a designated area for visitors to do this.
  • Social distancing principles must be applied – you must be a physical distance of two metres (six feet) from residents and staff (these same principles must be applied where a resident prefers to walk around the garden with their family member).
  • You and your loved one may be asked to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) (masks and gloves based on individual risk assessment).
  • At this time we will not be permitting visitors under 18 years-of-age.
  • Where possible, please bring your own flask and cups. There must be no use of kitchenettes.
  • Unfortunately, you will be unable to have conversations with staff at the time of your visit (this can be arranged over the phone post visit).
  • If you wish to bring in a gift will need to be advised that it will need to be something that can be easily cleaned by the care home to prevent cross-contamination.

4. If I can’t visit my loved one, can I find out if they’re okay and what is going on in the home?

If the home your relative is living in has an active outbreak of coronavirus, or is in a region which is experiencing a localised lockdown, unfortunately you will not be able to visit until there has been a two week period with no new cases.

We appreciate this time is incredibly hard and emotional for your family and your loved one in our care, however we have had to take this very difficult decision to minimise the spread of Coronavirus and keep our residents and colleagues as safe as possible.

We’re encouraging our homes to provide updates on what is going on in the home through their individual Facebook pages. If you’re able to, please go to Facebook, and follow both HICA and also the specific home your loved one lives in to get the latest updates. Please note, you will be unable to find out the condition of specific residents through these pages, but you will get an understanding of latest updates and activities going on in the home.

Our care homes are also working hard to provide a series of limited and appropriate activities for their residents, as well as using technology to help families stay in touch through the use of software such as Skype.

If you’re not able to access this, please contact the specific care home to arrange how you can receive updates on your loved one, and the activities from the home. To allow the staff to attend to the residents during the busy morning period, and to ensure health professionals and vital deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPE) can get through to the home, it would be greatly appreciated if at all possible you could call the home after 13:00

5. How can you guarantee the level of care for my family member at this time?

Our fantastic colleagues and volunteers are working around the clock to ensure our residents are receiving the excellent care and support as always, so please rest assured your loved ones are in compassionate and caring hands.

Unfortunately, some of our colleagues are off work due to shielding, self-isolation or they, sadly, have become symptomatic. We’re working really hard to support our homes and schemes across the country and have launched a national recruitment drive to ensure the staffing levels are maintained. They are then trained, ready and waiting to step in and continue giving your loved one the fantastic care and support they deserve.

In addition, our homes continue to follow our strict policies on infection control as well as guidance from Public Health.

If we have a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus in our homes or schemes, then we will isolate the resident and care for them in their own room. Carers will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

6. Guidance and support on the paying of fees and charges at this time

There is information on support for people on fees and payments during the coronavirus outbreak.

Are your finances being affected by COVID-19?

We understand and appreciate that some of our households who are employed, are extremely concerned about their financial security and the ability to pay their rent/ fees and charges due to lost and reduced earnings as a result of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).However, we want to assure you that we will not be taking any legal action as a result of the coronavirus.

How can we help?

We will work with any of our residents who are facing financial hardship due to the current situation. Support is available to those who need it, and where appropriate we will agree temporary adjustments to payments. We will not be taking legal action against anyone who falls behind with their payments because their own income has been affected by the Coronavirus. We will just need to discuss and agree your circumstances. HICA are committed to working with and supporting residents that find themselves in financial hardship. If you are struggling, we really want to hear from you.

7. Are all homes and schemes practising social distancing?

In order to provide personal care and support, our staff are required to be in very close proximity to our residents. Carers will also be close to multiple residents each day. Many of our residents are living with dementia and are unable to practice social distancing, which is why we have such stringent hygiene protocols in place.

In terms of how we operate within each home, we continue to adhere to the latest Government guidance on residential care provision.

8. Are you testing for coronavirus in colleagues and residents?

The government has now announced that care homes fo older people can now access weekly staff testing, and testing every 28 days for residents, if they consent, or it is deemed to be in their best interests. Please talk to us if you have any queries or concerns in regard to testing

9. Are you providing personal protective equipment (PPE) in your homes and schemes?

We want to assure you that because HICA has many care homes and retirement living schemes across the country, we are able to make sure that all of our sites have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) for our employees and residents, as we are able to re-allocate and move supplies between our services. This does not, however, take away from the fact that resources are stretched and the current distribution and allocation mechanisms need to be addressed by the Government as a matter of urgency.

We are constantly reviewing our stocks and moving reallocating PPE on a daily basis to ensure all our homes and schemes have the PPE they require.

We know this is very concerning for our colleagues, their families and our residents. We are stringently following the Public Health advice on the use and types of PPE including when to wear and not wear face masks and which type of gown or apron to use. Please be assured the health and safety of our colleagues and residents remains our top priority.

10. My family member is on end of life care. Can I be with them?

We are making an exception on compassionate grounds to enable people to visit a loved one in the very last days of life, where possible.

In these circumstances named visitors are permitted as agreed with the person in charge of the home or retirement living scheme at the time. For their own safety, each visitor will be advised by staff with regard to wearing PPE and social distancing.

All visitors in these circumstances must wash their hands thoroughly on entry to the building and upon leaving the building and must only visit their loved one’s room.

Anyone who is self-isolating because they, or a member of their household, have symptoms of COVID-19 must not visit under any circumstances.

Visits will be arranged over the phone in advance. Visits to the home or retirement living scheme to see someone who is nearing the end of their life are at the visitor’s own risk. We want to emphasise how important it is that sufficient PPE is given to the care sector and also to present the reality of the situation that is replicated across the care sector and the NHS, which has been documented across the media. As one of the largest and longest established providers of care in the UK it is incumbent on HICA to speak up for the older people we care for, our colleagues and the wider sector.

Information on new admissions into our care homes

1. Are you still accepting new care home admissions?

Yes, many of our care homes are still able to take new admissions.

We are working closely with our local authorities and NHS and are very much aware there are individuals within our local community who may now be vulnerable because of self-isolation.

If you feel that a loved one could benefit from being admitted into a care home during this time, please contact your local HICA care home for further details in the first instance. Full contact details for all our care homes can be accessed via our website: www.hica-uk.com

2. Can I still visit a care home as part of the enquiry process?

Yes, you will be able to arrange a viewing of your care home of choice, but there are certain restrictions in place to ensure the ongoing safety of our current residents and members of staff.

You will be able to visit communal areas within the home (lounge, dining areas for example) but visits to some floors and resident bedrooms will be restricted. The exact itinerary for a tour will be confirmed on the day of your visit by the care home manager.

We are sorry but we can only accept two visitors (including any potential resident) at one time, both of whom will need to wear supplied personal protective equipment (PPE). Unfortunately, we can only accept visitors as part of the new admission process. All other restrictions to external visitors currently remain the same.

3. What procedures are in place for any new admissions into a care home?

Any new resident or hospital admission to one of our care homes, are put into self-isolation for 14 days, as per the Government guidelines. This is to ensure the continued safety of all existing residents and members of staff. Learn more about how new care home residents are supported during the 14 day isolation period.

If there are no symptoms of COVID-19 after 14 days, then self-isolation restrictions will be removed.

4. I want to make a professional admissions referral to your home. What should I do?

In the first instance, please contact the care manager directly. The home manager will be able to discuss your requirements and identify any particular admission support and discuss fees/funding information.

If you do decide to use one of our homes, then any new admission will be put in self-isolation for the first 14 days as detailed in the ‘What procedures are in place for any new admissions into a care home?’ tab. Learn more about how new care home residents are supported during the 14 day isolation period.

Full contact details for all our care homes can be accessed via our website: www.hica-uk.com

Information on working or volunteering for HICA

Recruitment – how you can apply for paid-for and volunteer roles

We are looking to recruit across a variety of paid and volunteer roles at HICA. These will help us to continue our work and enable people to live later life well. We cannot do this without the dedicated and inspiring work our fantastic colleagues and volunteers deliver across our services, and you could join us on this journey.

Whether you already work in care, or are coming from another industry such as hospitality, retail or travel and searching for a new role, you have the opportunity to make a real difference at a time when your commitment is needed most.

If you’re looking for a paid-for role – visit our website vacancies page at https://www.hica-uk.com/careers/our-roles/

If you’d like to volunteer – please email Lucy at lucy.whitehouse@hica-uk.com.

Information for the press and media

How to contact HICA if you have a media enquiry

Please contact our Marketing & Communication Coordinator by calling 07923 215 857 or emailing Cameron.innes@hica-uk.com for media enquiries.

As you will appreciate, our Marketing Team are working hard to service all the media enquiries we receive, and will come back to you as soon as possible. Many thanks for your understanding.