COVID-19 (Coronavirus) UPDATE

Corona Virus Update – 8th January 2021.

Unfortunately, since our last update, we have entered another period of National Restrictions and advice to stay at home. At HICA we're doing everything we can to keep our residents and our colleagues safe. Following the most recent changes in Government guidance we continue to ensure our own guidance aligns to the same

Visits: Due to the rapidly rising number of positive COVID-19 cases across the UK, the Government has implemented a national lockdown. We assure you that our duty of care remains to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of our staff and residents. Government guidance currently states that for the safety of care home residents, close-contact indoor visits supported by rapid testing cannot take place.This is desperately sad, as we understand how much visiting means but we must continue to follow the government guidance in place. We will continue to use screened visiting suites where we have them but will be unable to support other visits inside the home unless in exceptional circumstances. Please liaise with the registered manager in regard to exceptional circumstances, and alternatives to close-contact internal visits

Vaccinations: At the present time, the first vaccines are being rolled out across the UK and have taken place in some of our Homes. At the moment, we do not have firm dates for all residents across all sites to be vaccinated. We know that the Government has decided priority will be given to care home residents so we hope that their vaccinations will arrive soon. We have been working closely with local public health teams and with the GPs that support our homes to plan for the point where the vaccinations are made available to us. Our home teams have been gathering the information requested by the Department of Health and Social Care and are completing the necessary processes for residents to have the vaccinations, so if they have not yet been vaccinated, they are ready to do so.

The vaccine is just one tool in our tool box to prevent COVID-19, even in services where staff and residents are fully vaccinated, we will:

✓Continue to wear PPE,

✓Continue to follow infection prevention control guidance,

✓Continue with testing,

✓Continue to follow guidance if anyone has symptoms of coronavirus.

We would like to thank residents and their family and friends and our teams for their incredible support and good will as we continue to do everything we can to keep residents safe, happy and leading busy, fulfilled lives. Obviously, the vaccine offers hope that visiting will be more available, but please note that you should be prepared to continue with the visiting arrangements in place at a service, even after your relative has been vaccinated, until we receive further guidance

Corona Virus Update – 21st December 2020.

We have had many questions about visiting over the Christmas period. We are conscious of how important these celebrations are for you and your loved ones, but also need to be aware that the risk of Covid-19 remains as high during this period as any other. With so many people to look after in each home, as well as a range of factors to consider, it will sadly prove impossible to make the perfect arrangements for everyone. We have debated every option available and have tried to come up with the fairest solution, while considering it is imperative that we continue to follow the safety measures, whatever day of the year it is.

We're pleased to announce that we will very soon begin to offer testing for visitors to some of our care homes, which, following advice from local health protection teams, and local risk assessments, are deemed as outbreak free and have an appropriate safe visiting space, and with the agreement of the local authority to proceed. We appreciate that for some of you, the local authorities have deemed visits as currently not safe to proceed, and if you contact your home manager, we will liaise with you to ensure you can still make contact with your loved ones, either by a window visit or via virtual means. If we receive an update of information from a local authority prior to Christmas, we will contact you.

For those services which are able, the testing of visitors is an added tool in the fight against Covid-19 but is not a failsafe option to preventing its spread. We will include the testing as part of our visiting procedures where possible combined with other infection prevention and control (IPC) measures (such as social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment).

Testing will support our care homes to safely maintain a balance between infection control and the vital benefits of visiting to the health and wellbeing of residents. However, testing visitors does not completely remove the risk of spreading the coronavirus, and therefore we ask that consideration be given to preparing for a visit, and where possible, reducing contacts with others before you attend one of our services. Consideration is also needed if you intend to form a ‘ Christmas Bubble’ over the festive period, as the care home should be classed as one of the households within that ‘bubble’. You will be asked to consent to testing and sharing of information to enable that process. If consent is not given, we will be unable to proceed with an indoor visit in our services.

In homes with ‘No Outbreak’ status – namely homes where we have had no positive tests for either colleagues or residents in the previous 28 days, and we have no symptomatic residents in the home – visits may be facilitated with health screening and infection control measures. The home manager will discuss this with you.

• All visits must be pre-booked to enable us to manage them safely and ensure the appropriate cleaning and hygiene regimes are in place • Indoor visits will be for a maximum of an hour, half an hour to be tested and half an hour for the visit, only if your Covid test is negative. • You will be asked to wear a face mask and practice social distancing for the duration of your visit. Unfortunately, this means no kissing, hugging or holding hands. • To protect the people we are caring for, please check with your home manager beforehand if you plan to bring a gift.

For homes that are in ‘Outbreak’ status – i.e. a resident or a member of staff has tested positive within 28 days or is experiencing symptoms which could indicate coronavirus – we will support outdoor visits in the form of either drive-by or closed window visits. We will also continue to support visits inside the home in exceptional circumstances, such as where a resident is on end-of-life care.

Sadly, this means not everyone will be able to visit on Christmas Day. We ask, for this year only, that everyone is as flexible as they can be with when they visit and celebrate Christmas with our residents on a day other than 25th December. We will of course do our best to ensure that every resident gets a visit when requested during this period, please contact the home your relative is in directly to arrange these

This year, we will be unable to have relatives dining with us on Christmas Day. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, we are constantly having to adapt and make the best of each situation. While this Christmas won’t be the same, we will do everything we can to ensure your relatives have an enjoyable and joyous time, full of love and care. On the 25th December it will be Christmas Day for everyone, including our incredibly hard-working staff, and we will celebrate in the best way we can.

If you have any further questions or queries about visiting loved ones at your care home, please contact the care home manager.

We understand that for some of you, this Christmas is an upsetting time. Please speak to the staff caring for your loved one. They will help offer support and advice as well as reassure you that your loved one is secure and well cared for. Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation, and your ongoing support during these most challenging of times. May we also take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Christmas and our very best wishes for a better 2021.

Corona Virus Update – 7th December 2020.

As many of you will be aware, the government, updated its visitor guidance at the end of the National Restrictions, and this was released last week. The government has committed to Rapid Testing Kits being available to services to allow for the testing of relatives to enable safer visits within care homes. This is an additional layer of protection to enhance existing safety protocols and practices and to provide additional confidence to care homes, staff, residents, and visitors. Rapid testing kits are now being rolled out by the Department of Health and Social Care and testing will be subject to homes having received the test kits, staff having completed the relevant training and competencies to support the testing and being outbreak free at the home for a period of 28 days.

Balancing the serious risks posed by the virus to care home residents with the ability to see friends and family throughout any holiday period remains challenging. Not all of our services have received kits or have been given access to the training at the time of writing this, and therefore it is with sadness that our current visiting policy remains unchanged. We understand how important it is for you to see your loved ones, and in turn we are fully aware of the positive impact of our residents seeing family and friends. We will review this twice weekly, as the situation evolves.

We’d like to say a big thank you for the understanding of families and friends of residents over the constantly changing situation regarding visits –your patience and goodwill has been much appreciated

We are awaiting further information on the rollout of the vaccination to care homes, and are assured that locally, plans are moving at pace that we will see this being rolled out into care homes over the next few weeks. One of the key things we know about the vaccine is that people who are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms cannot be vaccinated. It is therefore, more important than it has ever been to continue to take every precaution to minimise the risk of infections from the virus and keep outbreaks in care homes as low as we can, so as many people as possible can be vaccinated in the shortest possible time. We want to thank you in advance for the crucial part you play in helping us deliver care and support, we are incredibly grateful for the commitment and dedication you show to our teams–you help us to make our care homes special

Corona Virus Update – 2nd December 2020.

The HICA Group is extremely pleased with the recent government announcement that the Pfizer/ BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use in the UK. We will support our colleagues in health, in any way possible to ensure that the rollout to care homes is as smooth as possible. We have yet to be notified when the rollout will commence, and will update our residents, relatives and staff teams with information, as soon as it is received.

Corona Virus Update – 26th November 2020.

I hope this communication finds you well and safe. As many of you will be aware, the government, earlier this week, announced its Covid-19 Winter Plan, which included updates as we emerge from the current National Restrictions in place until 2nd December. Thank you for your continued support as we balance the need to comply with guidance and the need for families and visitors to see those they love. We understand how heart breaking it is for people when individuals cannot have physical contact other than for care and support and how very difficult it has been over recent months for you and your loved ones to be apart.

We’d like to say a big thank you for the understanding of families and friends of residents over the constantly changing situation regarding visits – it’s not an easy situation for home teams to manage and your patience and goodwill has been much appreciated.

We firmly believe that maintaining family and social connections is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of our residents. We are absolutely committed to ensuring residents in our homes are able to enjoy visits from their family and friends wherever possible while complying with the local restrictions that will come into effect from 2nd December.

You may have seen that the government’s winter plan has made a commitment to the testing of relatives and friends to enable visiting in care homes. We are awaiting more information as to how we access this testing, and the type of testing that this will be. As soon as we have this information, we will share with you the plans to make this happen in our services, and to once again welcome you back inside our services

You may have also seen the recent announcements that vaccines to prevent Covd-19, are now in the final stages of approval, and that care home residents and staff will be amongst the first to receive the vaccination.

Whilst we have no definite date of the vaccine rollout as yet, we are aware that local planning is underway to facilitate this. To this end, we have commenced the process of seeking consent from those that wish to be vaccinated. Please be assured that we will work in partnership with our health colleagues to ensure they are supported to administer vaccines to our residents who have given consent, or where a best interest discussion has occurred. We currently do not know which vaccine will be administered, and may get information at short notice, but again, as soon as we have more information, we will update you

Corona Virus Update – 5th November 2020.

Following information released by the government (4th November) we fully expect the new guidance when released to allow covid-secure visiting in care homes where possible. In light of this we are asking our homes to provide only window visits as well as virtual visits until we have clarity from the guidance. Please contact the home manager for more information. This will not affect visits for residents who are end of life, and the service will liaise with you to make appropriate and safe arrangements.

We appreciate that current regulations continue to cause some anxiety but the health and wellbeing of our residents and staff is our highest priority and we are working hard to halt the spread of the virus within our services.

As before, we will be re-introducing specific times for you to call the service so that the increased volume of calls does not impact upon our care delivery. All relatives are respectfully asked to call between 2pm and 4pm daily if you wish for an update. We will continue to contact you at any time if there is a change in the health and wellbeing of your loved one.

Due to the previous lockdown, all of our homes are now set up for face time calls so please contact the appropriate service to set these up. Up to and including the 4th Tier 2 regulations will remain in place

We thank you for your continued support during these troubling times and wish to assure you that all care will continue as usual.

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?.

Unfortunately, due to new lockdown regulations announced by the Government, from Thursday November 5th all of our services will be to be closed to visitors, except for health and social care professionals. Following information released by the government (4th November) we fully expect the new guidance when released to allow covid-secure visiting in care homes where possible. In light of this we are asking our homes to provide window visits as well as virtual visits until we have clarity from the guidance. Please contact the home manager for more information. This will not include visits for residents who are end of life, and the service will liaise with you to make appropriate and safe arrangements. Whilst we appreciate this news is frustrating and we apologise for any distress this may cause you or your loved one, we have taken this decision to keep your loved one safe and we hope you can understand this

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

Under current lockdown guidelines only window visits are currently permissable. However visiting can be allowed for residents who are end of life. Please note if there is a situation that requires a non-routine visit in extenuating circumstances such as end of life; the manager will work with you to ensure that the appropriate precautionary measures are taken to minimise any potential risks. You can be assured anyone displaying symptoms or any member of their household who is displaying symptoms will not be allowed to enter the home, all visitors’ temperatures will be taken, infection control measures will also be taken, handwashing and the appropriate PPE will be provided, essential medical visits will continue 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.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • You may be asked to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) (masks and gloves based on individual risk assessment).
  • 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?.

    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.

    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, and that staff are not moved to cover other services 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 for 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.

    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.

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?.

Unfortunately, for services in tier 2 and 3, and when the national restrictions take effect on Thursday 5th November, we will not be able to facilitate an in person visit. Please liaise with the service directly, who will make every attempt to arrange a virtual visit.

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. WE will liaise with new residents, and with those who refer them to take into account any self isolation which may have occurred prior to admission.

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.