Dear family members,

We hope all is well with you and yours. Firstly, thank you for your support in recent weeks as we commenced the phased resumption of indoor visiting in our homes. Now, over a month on, your backing has ensured its success to date. It is thanks to the adherence from visitors to our guidelines along with the robust infection prevention and control practices we have in place that we have been able to keep our homes COVID-19 free thus far.

This is good news. However, as you aware in these unpredictable times, there is no room for complacency and with the current increased prevalence and infectious nature of this virus our success to date is no guarantee that we will not have to deal with it at some point in the future. With everything we have implemented and learned since the start of this pandemic, in addition to best practice infection prevention control, we continually prepare for such an eventuality should it arise.

To assist us all live with COVID-19 and manage the pandemic I would ask that you all download the HSE COVID Tracker App; https://covidtracker.gov.ie/

It will help us to protect each other and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ireland. Using the COVID Tracker app along with the existing public health measures will help us all stay safe when we meet up, socialise, work or travel. The COVID Tracker app protects the privacy of all app users. The app was designed to protect your privacy as follows.

  • does not collect your name, age or address
  • does not hold your phone number unless you choose to share it
  • cannot be used to track your location
  • cannot be used to check if you should be self-isolating
  • can only access information on your phone that you choose to allow
  • cannot be used to identify your close contacts
  • cannot be used to identify people who have tested positive for coronavirus

The app uses Bluetooth and anonymous IDs to log close contact with any phone that also has the app.

If you use the app you will:

  • be alerted if you have been in close contact with another app user who has tested positive for coronavirus
  • be able to track any symptoms you have and get advice on what to do to protect yourself and others
  • be able to anonymously warn other app users that you were in close contact with, if you test positive for coronavirus

The risks posed by COVID-19 are well understood now and therefore, we are continuing with a cautious approach to visitations for the protection of our residents and staff. However, we recognise that we have a responsibility to ensure that the autonomy of residents and the right to have visitors is balanced with the need to ensure that visitations do not compromise overall resident care, or adherence to requisite infection control procedures. We ask that you continue to work with us and strike the right balance, so we can provide a holistic person-centered care approach for your loved ones by acknowledging the importance of maintaining family connections. To that end, our guidance from last month remains. However, we will look to relax some of the following over the coming weeks (commencing July 29th) where home circumstances permit:

  • Each resident should have nominated / named visitors and a max of TWO of these visitors can be present at any one time.
  • Visits must still be scheduled in advance — contact the home and book an available slot.
  • There are a pre-set number of slots each week due to the required administration and management of same. Therefore, while we will do our best to accommodate multiple visits they cannot be guaranteed and will depend on overall demand.
  • Visits will increase to 45 minutes maximum for now, which includes hygiene preparation and donning of PPE as required and we will continue to review this over the coming weeks with a view to increasing further where demand/capacity to manage permits.
  • Where possible, visits will be accommodated in an easily accessible, designated room or space in the home or grounds.
  • All visits will be assisted by a staff member where appropriate.
  • Children under 16 may be permitted to visit while accompanied by, and the responsibility of, an adult.
  • You should not visit if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 infection or have symptoms of any other infection.
  • If you are tested for COVID-19, do not visit until you are told it is safe to do so and for any other infection do not visit until at least 5 days after your symptoms have gone away.
  • You should not visit if you have been told you are a COVID-19 contact and 14-day isolation period has not elapsed.
  • Visitors must declare that they have no symptoms/are not isolating and undergo a temperature check before being permitted to enter.
  • You will be asked to wear a face covering during the visit. A surgical face mask will be provided by the nursing home if you do not have your own. Appropriate disposal of all PPE will be facilitated at the end of the visit.
  • Visitors must sign-in using their own pens or the person receiving them can sign-in on their behalf.
  • The visitor can bring a gift or other things the person needs when they visit.
  • No refreshments will be made available to visitors during the visit.
  • Visitors will be discouraged from using the nursing home’s restrooms.
  • Visitors who are late may not be admitted and visitors that are early will need to wait until their pre-booked time.

These guidelines, along with the weekly testing of staff over the past four weeks as part of a nationwide mass testing programme by the Health Service Executive, have assisted in keeping our residents’ homes COVID-19 free to date.

As you know, situations may change at any time, and so too can visitation guidelines. If this is the case, we will, at all times, keep you informed and communicate any changes in a timely manner.

 

With us all working together, we have kept our residents safe and well. Thank you for your continued support, including the many messages of thanks. This has meant so much to our frontline care team who are working tirelessly to keep your loved one safe.

Brian Woods

Registered Provider Representative / CEO Ditchley Care