How to create a COVID-safe visiting policy
Being able to visit our loved ones is crucial for our wellbeing, but the pandemic has made this challenging in a care setting. To keep service users safe, you need to create a policy for visitors coming into the care setting. Needless to say, visitors should be using lateral flow tests before arrival and you should enforce a zero-tolerance policy on anyone who doesn’t have a recent negative test, even if they’ve been vaccinated.
We can review your policies during a mock CQC inspection to make sure you’ve covered all the requirements to get that Outstanding rating. Here are some tips to support safe visiting, but always make sure you’re up to date on the latest government guidelines.
Ask every service user for a list of named visitors who can come by regularly. There should be no limit on the number of visitors that each resident can name, and you should calculate the number of visitors you allow per day based on the size and ventilation of your premises.
Assign an essential caregiver
Service users can nominate an essential caregiver to provide hands-on support and take care of their essential needs. Naturally, if they need double-handed care they should nominate 2 preferred essential care givers. If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 at the premises that doesn’t affect either the service user or the essential caregiver, visits from the nominated caregiver should still take place if possible.
Physical contact should be limited between service users and your team, excluding their nominated essential caregiver. Named visitors and service users should be allowed to hold hands if the proper hygiene protocols are followed. Explain to your service users that close personal contact, such as hugging, presents higher risks so should be brief and will be safer if both parties have been vaccinated. You could also encourage mask-wearing to make hugs safer, and have your visitors wear their masks when they’re moving around your premises.
Make use of your space
If you have outdoor space, this is the ideal setting for visits with friends and family members if the weather allows it. You can also adapt well-ventilated indoor spaces by spreading people out as much as possible, using substantial screens between small groups of visitors, installing visiting pods that are thoroughly cleaned, or permitting visits from behind windows.
We all have a responsibility to keep each other safe. Make sure visitors are briefed on the latest guidelines and are following safe practices. You can nominate a member of staff to ensure guidelines are enforced and carry out regular risk assessments and infection and control protocols.
Ultimately, you need to manage and mitigate the risks of inviting people from the community into the care setting, but still, make sure that visitors feel welcome. You know your care setting better than anyone, so it’s up to you to develop a suitable policy in consultation with staff, residents, and their relatives.
If you want more advice on how to create an Outstanding COVID-safe visiting plan or to arrange a mock CQC inspection today, get in touch with the team on 0333 444 5344 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.