A message from Balhousie Care Group on end-of-life visits –  May 22, 2020

As detailed in our last letter to relatives, we have been working hard to formulate measures for how we take our care homes forward in the next weeks and months.  We have been closely following the guidance from Scottish Government and observed the reduction in the rate of community transmission. Therefore, it is timely that we start to consider the current restrictions in place across our care homes.

One of the most difficult decisions we made back in March was to restrict end-of-life care visits to relatives. It was arrived at after much deliberation, consideration and professional input, both clinical and operational. As you will know, our care homes really are ‘families’, and we are under no illusion as to the emotional toll this has had on everyone. However, we firmly believe that our strict rules on visitations have been a major factor in minimising cases of COVID-19 in our homes.

From Monday May 25, visits will begin to be permitted to loved ones who are at the end of life. It must be recognised that visiting will carry a risk to visitors, particularly over-70s, vulnerable, and individuals who are shielding. Therefore, these visits will entail rigorous risk assessment – of the resident, relative and care home – as well as thorough infection control procedures during the visit. The visits will also be subject to the following rules:

  • There will be only one nominated person permitted to visit for the duration of end of life care;
  • Any visitor showing symptoms of coronavirus should not visit due to the risks of infection to others;
  • Visitors will be subject to our strict infection control measures, including a temperature check, the wearing of necessary Personal Protection Equipment, handwashing and minimal contact/social distancing measures with other residents.

Full details of our end-of-life visit protocol are available from the Home Manager, or myself.

Please accept our sincere gratitude and appreciation for your patience and co-operation throughout the Coronavirus Crisis and we know you will join us in appreciating our extremely hard-working staff. They have been far too modest about how they have risen to the challenges presented by Coronavirus. Thank you, on their behalf, for the cards, emails and notes of thanks you have sent them.

Lastly, here is a reminder of our current COVID-19 procedures:

  • Suspension of non-essential visits except for approved end-of-life visits;
  • Staff are wearing face masks during all interactions with residents;
  • Any resident displaying symptoms of COVID-19 are being cared for on a self-isolated basis until those symptoms subside. Often our residents’ temperatures are raised due to a UTI, (unrelated) cough or chest infection, and so an elevated temperature is not in itself a cause for concern;
  • New admissions are being cared for on a self-isolated basis to ensure they do not present with symptoms;
  • Staff are using prescribed PPE while caring for self-isolated residents;
  • Staff’s temperatures are being checked at the beginning of each shift.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

Yours sincerely

Sheilah Harvey

Head of Operations