County’s care homes prepared for second coronavirus wave
PUBLISHED: 16:45 15 September 2020 | UPDATED: 20:48 15 September 2020
Care homes bosses in Norfolk have said they prepared to tackle a second wave of coronavirus and have had no problems accessing testing kits or personal protective equipment.
Homes said weekly testing, diligence and “months of sacrifice” from staff had helped them keep residents and staff safe.
Lisa Black, manager of Woodspring House Care Home in Fakenham, said an incredible effort from the entire staffing team had so far kept the home coronavirus free, but they were not becoming complacent.
She said throughout the last seven months the home had implemented a number of measures, including strict visitor policies, weekly testing for staff and full PPE.
Ms Black said: “We do understand it’s really upsetting for family members not being able to visit their loved ones so we have a very strict visitor policy in place. If it spikes then we will have to look at it again.
“Our staff are using work as part of their bubbles, they are not seeing certain people in their own families in order to be able to protect the residents.
“It’s been months of sacrifice,” she said.
Ms Black said the home was also testing staff, using home testing kits, on a weekly basis and had ensured, should they require it, a resident could get a test straight away. She said despite two deliveries of faulty tests which had to be recalled the system had worked well.
“We’re also testing staff and residents temperatures and oxygen levels everyday, obviously it’s a respiratory illness [so those would be affected] and so the monitoring of staff and residents’ health has been at the top of our focus.”
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Ms Black, who has been manager of Woodspring House for just over three years, said 2020 had been a year like no other in her career: “I don’t think we’re complacent but we’re getting used to this new way of life and a new normal. But it’s really scary and really worrying, and nobody has taken annual leave, we’re exhausted but I couldn’t wish for a better staff,” she said.
Raj Bharj, the manager of Whitehaven residential care home in Sheringham, said coronavirus would be a concern until a vaccine was developed.
He said: “It will always be on our minds until a vaccine is ready. It’s always gong to be around, it’s a worry, lots of people are not taking it seriously.”
Mr Raj said he was doing everything possible to protect his staff and residents, he said: “Infection control measures, everyone has PPE, temperature checks and staff are aware that if they are feeling unwell they can’t turn up for work. I’m also keeping staff informed of any changes.”
In Hunstanton, Sandra Rowe, the manager of Nightingale Lodge Care Home, said; “If there’s a second wave it will be treated in exactly the same way as the first wave.”
Mrs Rowe said the home had so far remained coronavirus free, was testing staff on a weekly basis, carrying out daily temperature checks and was not using agency staff in order to limit the numbers of people coming into Nightingale Lodge.
She said: “I don’t think [a second wave] will be any different to what we have already been through. Really it would help if the government kept people in Norfolk and in their own districts instead of letting people roam all over the place.”
Mrs Rowe, who has worked in the care sector for 22-years said 2020 had been a year of “lots of hard work”, she said; “I’ve just got a wonderful team, they all work brilliantly, if we do get a second because nothing will change.”
On Monday, it emerged the early testing of care home residents had helped keep coronavirus levels in North Norfolk among the lowest in England.
North Norfolk Primary Care, an alliance of 19 GP practices, began testing care home residents early during the pandemic. The scheme, which saw a specialist team of nurses go into care homes to carry out tests, enabled those capable of spreading the disease who were asymptomatic to be isolated.
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