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Information for Residents & Families (Springfield Care Villages)


6th July 2020

Dear Family member or Friend,

While we appreciate the importance of family visits, our first priority must always be the safety of residents, colleagues and visitors in our homes.

We recognise how difficult it has been for the people in our care and loved ones to restrict visits; the decision was not taken lightly. We are now moving tentatively into a new phase, again in the absence of firm guidance from the government, but with risk at the forefront of our minds and how to reduce those perceived risks to the people living within our homes, our colleagues and also you, the visitors. I am conscious of balancing the risk of harm to residents through not having visits, with the risk of potential harm to residents, colleagues and visitors through visits to the homes.

Many people living in nursing and care settings are at a higher risk of catching COVID-19 and are seen as having poorer outcomes due to comorbidities. Many people have been shielding and to some extent this may have to continue.

As a first phase, we have introduced procedures to open up homes that have been free from infection to enable outdoor visits to take place. I am pleased to report that all homes are now able to commence outdoor visits. Please contact the homes to discuss making an appointment, but please consider if the person you wish to visit will be able to access the outdoor space (our colleagues will be able to advise if you are unsure). Homes now have protocols in place, training is being provided to ensure the visits go as smoothly as possible and we are currently trialling in-room visits at the same time as finalising individual risk assessments.

To ensure your safety, we need to put a number of additional measures in place during visits. We recognise that many of the additional measures and required restrictions will be difficult for families and friends who have not seen each other for some time, but we believe they are vital in protecting your loved ones.

All visits and circumstances are risk assessed. For ease of communication, visual flowcharts have been produced and can be located on our website. Hard copies will be provided upon request.

I have been requested by several relatives to explain the types of visits and contact currently available, and when the different phases will commence subject to the homes remaining infection free.

  • Compassionate visits for residents who are unwell physically, mentally or for the people in our care who are nearing the end of their life have always been maintained and will continue to be our priority.
  • Window visits are conducted where possible, but not all residents can benefit from these due to where their room is positioned within the home. However, many residents and visitors have taken great comfort from the opportunity to maintain contact this way.
  • Telephone calls for our more independent residents are promoted in all homes.
  • The more traditional letter or postcard writing, and sending and receiving photographs, has seen a surge during lockdown. It has been a great form of communication for many residents, families and indeed colleagues.
  • Facetime has become a regular form of contact for people despite being a new form of technology for many residents and dare I say colleagues.
  • Garden visits have recently been introduced and due to the exceptionally warm spell we had a few weeks ago we made sure that as many as possible got off to a good start.
  • In-room visits are currently being trialled by our Head of Wellbeing in conjunction with key colleagues in the homes, ensuring all important details are checked and the risk assessments are covered. The in-room visits will commence as soon as we are able, although we will be prioritising residents who cannot easily access other areas of the homes.
  • Visitor rooms will form part of the “new normal” and will hopefully, subject to guidance and other criteria, be ready by August. We are currently working on safety features and equipment to enhance the current infection prevention and control measures we have in place.

Other visitors to our homes

You will be aware the restrictions to our homes have applied not only to relatives and friends, but to all non-essential visitors. We are aware that certain visits are essential and we will be reviewing all visits to ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents.  If I may reassure you that all visitors will undertake certain checks and be monitored to maintain the strictest infection control procedures possible.

New admissions

We will continue to welcome people whose care needs can no longer be met at home or in hospital. We will only admit people when it is safe to do so and, whenever possible, following a test for COVID-19. All people admitted will have to isolate as per guidance. For people who are living with dementia this may prove difficult: as many measures as possible will be put into place to ensure the admission is as safe as possible.

Testing

It has been announced that regular testing will be extended to care/nursing homes; this will be weekly for staff and monthly for residents. Whilst these whole home tests provide a very helpful understanding of the status of a home, they are only a moment in time. As such, we are actively working with our public sector partners to ensure these whole home tests become part of a rolling programme.

We continue to see regional variations in both the scale and efficiency of testing. While the testing programme is not perfect, it is one of the most important tools we have to protect those living and working in our homes in the coming months. We will continue to work with partners and be involved with the research programmes we have been invited to participate in, in the belief testing will improve and reduce any future likelihood of the virus taking control again.

Consideration

You will have noticed that we are only able to invite designated people into our homes as it reduces the number of people entering our communities and contact with residents. Please remember that children under 18 years of age will not be permitted to visit.

All visits will be in line with the latest infection prevention and control guidance which will include provision relating to the use of designated areas for visits and the use of social distancing procedures, hand hygiene and PPE.

Please check the responsible visitor charter upon entering any of our homes. We must work together in partnership, and your help in the following areas will be vital:

  • Visits must be booked in advance to enable us to manage the number of people who are permitted into the homes.
  • Please check by calling the home on the day of visit to see if there are any changes to the arrangements.
  • Ensure you are free of any symptoms and feel well before visiting.
  • You must comply with the infection prevention and control measures including temperature checks, mandatory hand hygiene, the use of PPE where appropriate and social distancing.
  • Any requirements discussed within the care home must be complied with.
  • Correct routes in and out of the home must be followed. Please do not breach this extremely important request.
  • Visitors are asked to be patient and understanding with our colleagues and the processes they must follow.

We have found that making the necessary arrangements and maintaining all measures takes a significant amount of time. We are hoping to increase the numbers of colleagues allocated to wellbeing in the near future; I ask for you to be patient and give careful consideration to this fact when visiting or making arrangements. Other day to day events and activities will also be taking place to keep residents occupied and make their time as enjoyable as possible. You will see from our social media and photographs we have continued with many activities in the homes and given people our time whenever possible to ease the pain of not seeing their friends or loved ones.

In the event of any suspected or confirmed cases, or an outbreak of COVID-19 within any of our homes, we may need to revert back a step or stop visits until we have fully assessed the situation and consulted with our health partners.

Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to my colleagues who have worked tirelessly over the past few months to provide exceptional levels of care under very challenging circumstances. Thank you as always for your continued support, messages, gifts and cards, but most of all for your patience, kindness and understanding. Without exception you have all played a part. Your commitment in allowing us to concentrate on the job in hand and working with us has not gone unnoticed. After talking with many of you, receiving emails and listening to your stories I know how difficult a time this has been for you and I know we have asked so much. I have found this to be a very humbling experience. Thank you does not seem sufficient but please know this is extremely heartfelt from all managers and colleagues in the Springfield family.

As we move slowly to open our homes we must remember that we cannot undo all that has been done. The sacrifices for many have been unprecedented, but we will not forget the people who are no longer with us. I am hoping to announce in the coming weeks a fitting memorial to allow us all the opportunity to reflect and remember the loved ones we have lost.

My warmest regards,

Cyd

Cyd Akrill MBE


19th June 2020

Dear Resident, Relative or Friend of Springfield,

I hope you are all staying safe and keeping well. I would like to provide you with an update on the current situation in our homes, alongside responses to some questions which have been passed on to me from the home managers.

Testing
We are continuing to test both residents and staff for COVID-19, and I am pleased to inform you that the results are not taking as long to process as previously reported. We experienced other difficulties with the system for example the courier service, again the system appears more capable to cope with the demands placed on them. We are at the end of the first round of testing in all our homes and I am now establishing what the expectations are at a local and national level for the frequency of testing.

In our homes, residents and colleagues have been offered the opportunity to have a test for COVID-19. As you will appreciate, certain residents may decide not to accept; they can of course refuse the test, or due to a diagnosis of dementia they may be frightened or lack understanding. If we notice any distress we do not continue with the test. We have produced easy to read information to help explain the process, we offer lots of encouragement, take our time and involve relatives throughout the process if we feel this may benefit the person concerned.

The Track and Trace system is now in place. There are two versions of this system which alert the contacts of people who have tested positive. Colleagues who test positive, providing there has not been a breach in any of their personal protective equipment, are not classed as a close contact and do not have to isolate. Colleagues are encouraged to inform our human resource teams if they receive a positive test result to enable us to review any risk to colleagues who have been in contact with the person.

Infection Prevention and Control Measures
We have put in place many different measures, including (but not limited to):

  • additional staff training;
  • barrier nursing and isolation;
  • ensuring waste is dealt with as per policy;
  • external training with the Clinical Commissioning Group/Local Authorities.

Robust infection prevention and control measures are in force and we are working alongside the IPC local team and Public Health England to keep residents and colleagues safe.

Our training team is continuing to monitor and attend the homes to carry out training and reinforce key messages, subject to a robust criteria, to protect both the home and residents. Angela Randle, Head of Kindness, Care and Quality, and I have still managed to complete audits and offer support and guidance to the homes, which has been seen in a positive light by local authorities and other members of the multi-disciplinary team.

The external teams for infection prevention and control, an arm of the Clinical Governance Group, revisited training to ensure we are up to date with best practice. New IPC leads have now been appointed in the homes; you will find posters on display in the homes detailing the relevant appointed people.

CQC
All managers have had calls with their inspectors from the Care Quality Commission. As you may be aware, inspections have been put on hold during the pandemic and therefore the CQC have a new Emergency Support Framework as an interim approach. The rationale behind this is to share and use information to target support where it is needed most, covering areas such as staffing arrangements, protection from abuse and monitoring risk management. The calls between the managers and inspectors were very thorough. Following up as part of information gathering with other agencies, the inspectors were able to gather all the evidence they needed, and all feedback was positive.

Our local authority contract officers are also continuing their monitoring processes, weekly telephone calls, completion of trackers and documentation requests as required.

Visiting
The home managers, Head of Kindness, Care and Quality and I have been reviewing the next steps with regards to visiting. I am mindful of the potential impact on mental health for some of our residents, and as such we have facilitated visits for a few people in our homes. We continue to shield the most vulnerable people and the advice remains unchanged; the people in our care must remain protected. I anticipate that this may change at the end of June, and preparations are taking place to allow this to happen.

The garden visits have been greatly appreciated by relatives, residents, me, and other colleagues. I appreciate some of you continue to feel isolated because of Coronavirus and know how difficult this situation is for families and friends. Please be assured that the residents do see other people; our staff act as visitors and certain aspects of isolation are reduced by living with others in a home setting.

We are working hard to increase visits and contact. We are in the process of uploading visual flowcharts of the different types of visits we will be facilitating and the expected dates we can commence the next phase. All visits will continue to be on an appointment-based system, with one nominated person to be allocated for all but garden visits. I am currently discussing with the Head of Wellbeing relaxing the one nominated person restriction to the garden visits and I will be in a position to update you next week. We will need to observe social distancing and strict infection prevention and control measures, risk assessments will be undertaken. The visits will take time to plan and arrange, although we have a dedicated Wellbeing Team and other colleagues who will be assisting us with the task. Due to the potentially large number of people wishing to visit and time restraints we can only permit one visit per resident until everyone has been able to see their visitor, and then we can begin a second round. The residents who do not have a visit will remain the priority for video calls. I thank you in advance for your cooperation, patience and understanding whilst we get everything in place.

We will always assist and support relatives whose family member is unwell or nearing the end of their life as a priority. Along with Nikki Lee Clarke, our Head of Specialist Services, we are now starting to look at visits for people living with dementia and the most person-centred way we can make this happen. Please keep in mind we are still shielding our residents and you, as family members or friends, may also be shielding. If this is the case, please let us know. As part of a government initiative we may be able to use certain resources to have an additional person in each home to help with visits in the coming months.

Research
I have been frequently asked how we will learn lessons about COVID-19 and how we will gather information to make some sense of it all, especially as it will be an ongoing situation for some time to come. We are fortunate to have been asked to support and work with a research team at Leeds University, learning by experience and supporting the Care Home Sector during the pandemic. We will be sharing key lessons learnt so far by care practitioners working on the front line.

With the National Care Forum, we are undertaking work to capture the experiences of frontline health and social care practitioners caring for older people with COVID-19. The lessons learnt about the presentation, trajectories, and management of the infection in this population will be shared with care homes that have not yet experienced the virus.

Thank you all again for your continued support, words of kindness, cards, calls and most of all your patience. I have found this to be a humbling experience when I see the impact this has had on so many of you.

If we can offer you any help or support please do not hesitate to contact the home manager or Angela Randle, Head of Kindness, Care and Quality.

My warmest regards,

Cyd

Cyd Akrill MBE


27th May 2020

Dear Relative/Friend of Springfield,

I hope you are all staying safe and keeping well. I would like to provide you with an update on the current situation in our homes alongside responses to some questions which have been passed on to me from the home managers.

Testing

We are continuing to test both residents and colleagues for C-19, and I am pleased to inform you that the results are not taking as long to process as previously reported. In some of our homes we have had some difficulties in obtaining the kits which has been far from ideal, but we hope to see improvements over the coming weeks. One of the main difficulties is when people who are asymptomatic receive a positive test result. Until receiving their result, asymptomatic people will have been in contact with others. The delays are having a greater impact than if the test result came back the same or the following day. This means that the situation continues to be complex, and there are still many other frustrations with the system.

How are we managing this outbreak?

We have put in place many different measures including (but not limited to):

  • Additional staff training
  • Barrier nursing and isolation
  • Ensuring waste is dealt with as per policy

During any outbreak we create different zones; where there are residents with a suspected or positive status these are referred to as “red zones” or “hot zones”, and the opposite to this are “green zones” or “cold zones” for people who are not affected. There are also measures in place for people who are suspected (before a positive result) in order to protect them: they are barrier nursed in the same way as a person who has tested positive.

Robust infection, prevention and control measures are in force and we are working alongside the IPC local team and Public Health England to keep residents and staff safe.

Our training team is continuing to monitor and attend the homes, to carry out training and reinforce key messages, subject to robust criteria to protect the home and residents. Angela Randle, Head of Kindness, Care and Quality, and I have still managed to complete audits and offer support and guidance to the homes, which has been seen in a positive light by local authorities and other arms of the multi-disciplinary team. This week we have commenced further training with the infection, prevention and control teams, revisiting training and ensuring we are up to date with best practice prior to appointing new IPC leads in each home.

CQC

Last week the managers from Seacroft Green and Seacroft Grange had calls with their inspectors from the Care Quality Commission.  As you may be aware inspections have been put on hold during the pandemic and therefore the CQC have a new Emergency Support Framework as an interim approach. The rationale behind this is to share and use information to target support where it is needed most, covering areas such as staffing arrangements, protection from abuse and monitoring risk management. The calls between the managers and inspectors were very thorough and follow up as part of information gathering with other agencies, the inspectors were able to gather evidence, requesting further details where necessary.

Visiting

The home managers, Head of Kindness, Care and Quality together with myself have been reviewing the next steps with regards to visiting. I am mindful of the potential impact on mental health for some of our residents, and as such we have facilitated visits for a few people in our homes.  We continue to shield the most vulnerable people and the advice remains unchanged: the people in our care must remain protected. I appreciate this will be very difficult for families and friends, and I know some of you continue to feel isolated because of coronavirus.  Please be assured that the residents do see other people; our staff act as visitors and certain aspects of isolation are reduced by living with others in a home setting.

I would, however, like to take advantage of the warmer weather by discussing how managers could facilitate visits in the gardens. I appreciate that not all residents will be able to benefit from this, as their physical needs may prevent them from being able to go outside; we often have difficulties with specialist equipment which may compromise assisting a person outside, or the resident may find it too troublesome or distressing.  We are working hard to make this happen by implementing an appointment system for the garden visits and figuring out the best way to ensure social distancing and strict infection, prevention and control measures. The visits will take time to plan and arrange, although we have a dedicated Wellbeing Team and other colleagues who will be assisting us with the task.  Due to the potentially large number of people wishing to visit and time restraints I will allow one visit per resident until everyone has been able to see their visitors, and then we can begin a second round. The residents who do not have a visit will be the priority for video calls. I thank you in advance for your cooperation, patience and understanding whilst we get everything in place.

We will always assist and support relatives whose family member is unwell or nearing the end of their life as a priority. Along with Nikki Lee Clarke, our Head of Specialist Services, we are now starting to look at visits for people living with dementia and the most person-centred way we can make this happen. Please keep in mind we are still shielding our residents and you, as family members or friends, may also be shielding. If this is the case, please let us know.

Kindness 

We have again benefitted from many acts of kindness towards us, for which we are very grateful.  Asda recently donated 450 masks, Burberry donated gowns, masks and gloves, and a lovely family whose relative we had the privilege to care for launched a JustGiving page for one of our communities. Thank you all so much for everything you continue to do to support us. It is very much appreciated by everyone.

In the coming weeks I will continue to work on our plans to relax restrictions. Once everything is in place your individual home managers will communicate these plans to you. Please remember that we are still in the shielding phase following advice from the government and medical professionals.

If we can offer you any help or support please do not hesitate to contact the home manager or Angela Randle, Head of Kindness, Care and Quality.

My warmest regards,

Cyd

Cyd Akrill MBE


15th May 2020

Dear Relative/Friend of Springfield,

I hope you are all staying safe and keeping well. I would like to provide you with an update on the current situation in our homes.

Individual home managers will be writing to you next week to communicate key messages, updates and answer specific questions which have been raised at a local level.

As many of you are aware, we are currently obtaining swabs from the residents in our care which involves swabbing both the nose and throat. We may discuss this with you if the resident does not have capacity to consent to the test, this would be part of a legal framework and process. We have already taken swabs from many residents and have ordered additional kits, although as yet we do not have an indication of the timeframe for delivery. We are still awaiting some results; we understand that this is causing anxiety to many people, and I want to reassure you that we have spent many hours following these up and trying to locate the laboratories in an attempt to obtain the results as soon as possible. We discovered that the swabs were sent to County Antrim, Ireland, and we have now started to receive results. Due to the length of time it has taken for the department to return the results, many of the people concerned have already completed their isolation period. It is a frustrating situation: we really need to be able to take tests one day and receive the result the following day for us to fully protect the people in our care. I have escalated this issue to the local authority and the Care Quality Commission (the majority of the kits we received were from CQC).

As you know, we have both confirmed and suspected cases of coronavirus in our homes. If residents display any symptoms, we will be open, honest and transparent in our approach. Reassurance is being offered to all of our relatives during these very difficult times; I can only apologise that the system is wholly inadequate at this time.

Following the most recent announcement from the government, I have been asked if I would review the visiting arrangements. However, at this time, nothing has changed for our residents. We continue to shield the most vulnerable people and the advice remains unchanged: the people in our care must remain protected. I appreciate this will be very difficult for families and friends, I know some of you continue to feel isolated because of coronavirus. Please be assured that the residents do see other people; our staff act as visitors and certain aspects of isolation are reduced by living with others in a home setting. We have three colleagues dedicated to wellbeing, one full time person assisting and supporting with video calls and although reduced we are managing a few group activities observing the rules around social distancing.

There are many mixed messages in the news in respect of care homes, discussions taking place in respect of infection, prevention and control and a shadow cast over the sector in general. I would like to offer reassurance to you that at all inspections, visits and checks by the IPC teams identified only minor requirements which were quickly addressed. In all recent visits during the pandemic we have had positive feedback. Out training team has continued to monitor and attend the homes, subject to a robust criteria to protect the home and residents, carrying out training and reinforcing the key messages. The Head of Kindness Care and Quality and I have still completed audits, supported and offered guidance to the homes, which has been seen in a positive light by local authorities and other arms of the multi- disciplinary team.

During these difficult days I have seen colleagues going above and beyond every single day. Our managers have also made numerous sacrifices to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our residents: one manager has moved into her home, another has attended for all people who have passed regardless of the time of day, and other managers have given up their leave to be present in this time of uncertainty. The endeavours of my colleagues, their commitment, care and attention, the respect and dignity when forming the Guards of Honour as people leave the building for the last time make me exceptionally proud of both my profession and our Springfield family.

Thank you all very much for everything you continue to do to support us. It is very much appreciated by everyone. Even when no one is watching, I know acts of kindness are taking place behind closed doors every day.

In the coming weeks I will continue to work on our plans to relax certain restrictions. Once everything is in place your individual home managers will communicate these plans to you.

If we can offer you any help or support please do not hesitate to contact the home manager or Angela Randle Head of Kindness, Care and Quality.

My warmest regards,

Cyd

Cyd Akrill MBE

 


Dear Relative or Friend of Springfield,

Following on from my letter last week I write to inform you that in our homes we still have several confirmed and suspected cases of coronavirus. I would like to reiterate the following information in order to offer reassurance to you: if your relative displays any symptoms, or receives a positive result, a member of the management team will contact you immediately. I am sure you are aware that testing in care homes is not currently being carried out on a large scale as it is dependent upon several factors. I do believe in the coming days we will be offered more testing or more testing kits will be made available. On a more encouraging note, however, testing against set criteria for the staff team has commenced. All possible measures are in place to both manage the situation and, most importantly, to continue to provide outstanding care for our residents during this very difficult time.

This week I have had several families contact me with questions about visiting and end of life care. I gave you my assurances in one of my earlier letters that I would always be open, honest and transparent regardless of the difficulty of the message: that continues to be the case. You will have seen in the media that many families are not permitted to visit loved ones who are nearing the end of their life in hospitals and residential/nursing homes. There are many reasons for this. We are currently shielding the people in our care to reduce the spread of the virus, which has resulted in us stopping visits to the homes. Many government departments, local authorities and other stakeholders have issued an abundance of guidance, but this guidance often contains inconsistencies. I have always maintained that in situations of ambiguity we will make our own balanced assessment based on legalities, guidance, policy and evidence, and take a fair and balanced approach to inform our policies or procedures. I do not want the rationale for visiting to be governed solely by the principles of infection control or health concerns; we must also consider our moral principles. The risks must be balanced against the absence of family, the residents’ wishes, the potential impact on family in the bereavement process and the care staff who substitute themselves for the family at this time. I believe the decisions reached define who we are and our understanding of how we can make these unprecedented times kinder, whilst taking every reasonable precaution to prevent the spread of the virus and risk to people.

One of the cruelties of the coronavirus pandemic is the isolation I know, as relatives, you will feel. I appreciate how people may react if we do not try to facilitate being with loved ones as they near the end of their life. I have always hoped to find ways to allow family members to be together at this time. We have facilitated visits with personal protective equipment and social distancing, although this does not feel as dignified as we would like and, if I am honest, it makes my heart rather heavy. I am awaiting further government guidance, but until that time we will continue to support people and be as kind as we can, advising relatives and residents of all the risks to allow informed choices to be made. I am always available should you wish to discuss any concerns or questions you may have, as are our nurses and managers.

Where visits are not possible for the residents in our care, the use of smartphones, tablets computers and good old-fashioned pen and paper has been a great comfort in enabling residents to communicate with friends and relatives. I apologise if the process is sometimes slow or you do not have as much contact as you would like, but we are getting into more of a rhythm now and we also have new employees assisting with these communication methods. If you feel communication is an issue or have any suggestions please get in touch with me and I will endeavour to assist.

If you have any concerns at any time, or you would like any help or support, please do not hesitate to contact me, Angela, or the home managers.

With warm regards,

Cyd Akrill MBE

Chief Nursing Officer


Wednedsay 15th April 2020

Dear Relative,

Currently, in the latest phase of our journey, with a heavy heart I write to inform you that in some of our homes, we have several confirmed and suspected cases of coronavirus. Please be reassured if your relative receives a positive result a member of the management team will contact you. I am sure you are aware that testing in care homes is not carried out on a large scale this is dependent on several factors. All measures are in place to manage the situation but most importantly to care for residents during this very difficult time.

Your support and commitment at this time is making all the difference, I would like to thank you for this. We all have a special responsibility and a constant duty of care despite the enormity of the challenge.

Our safety is of utmost importance, families have asked me to give more information in respect of this. The board has given me its full backing to secure medical equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE). We have sufficient supplies of PPE; many people have been working around the clock to secure items, regardless of cost. We are seeing an unprecedented level of use and a significant increase in cost, but despite this we have everything we need as requested by the individual home managers. But remember, we can only make positive contributions if we stay healthy and avoid spreading the virus by adhering to everything that is asked of us both at work, when at home and by the support of the external community.

Business continuity is vital. Plans have been made, and we are working hard to monitor any issues or concern. Even though we have confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our homes, as well as several suspected cases, staffing has not been affected on a great scale due to the input of non- clinical colleagues and a big intake of new temporary employees who have met all the usual safety checks. I have witnessed colleagues going above and beyond to deliver the very best care possible.

Due to our unique culture and values, we often refer to Springfield as a family. A challenging moment like this is absolutely the time to live by our family values. Your assistance, support and compliments can make such a difference to my colleagues. I am proud by the way the teams remaining have risen to this challenge, they have all shown such great courage, empathy and passion in these trying times.

On a more personal note, I am working hard to cope with the coronavirus crisis along with everyone else at Springfield. Like many of you, I have a family, I am a mother, a wife and a daughter. At times like these, every single one of us will have numerous concerns: I am no exception. However, I am also convinced that we will get through this, the day will come as in other countries, please stay p and continue with your understanding for a short time longer. I do not know for certain when the lockdown will lift, I believe from the evidence we will need to maintain the current restrictions for at least another 3 weeks.

We need to act with grace and courage, and measure ourselves by the quality of care delivered with kindness and compassion.

Please if you would like any help or support at any time please do not hesitate to contact me, the home managers or Angela Randle.

With warm regards,

Cyd Akrill MBE

Chief Nursing Officer


 

FAO Seacroft Grange Family and Friends
Monday 13th April 2020

Dear Relative,
It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that we have several residents who are presenting with symptoms of COVID-19 within our home. We are unfortunately not able to get tests completed for everyone but five of the residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

We have an experienced and knowledgeable team and we have spent recent weeks preparing ourselves for this awful but sadly inevitable turn of events. Staff are well equipped with PPE, have received appropriate training and will be supported by senior members of staff. We will do everything possible to care and to comfort all of those involved.

This is an anxious time for us all. All families have been contacted who are presenting with symptoms or who have tested positive. I am certain you may have thought of other questions and concerns which you did not raise on the initial telephone call to you. We will do our best to answer all questions but I ask, if at all possible, if you can check our website www.springfieldhealthcare.com for information or send questions to info@springfieldhealthcare.com before calling the home. We need to try where possible to retain resources to support residents and staff at this critical time. We have mobile phones on the communities which we will actively use for residents to make contact with you.

I am very proud of Victoria and her team at Seacroft Grange and have absolute faith in them all. We have prepared for this as much as it has been possible to do so, and I assure you that we will do our very best, offering kind, compassionate and dignified care to all.

Cyd Akrill MBE

Chief Nursing Officer


 

30th March 2020

Dear relative or friend of Springfield Healthcare,

I am writing to you following my recent communications in respect of coronavirus to offer you my latest update. I will communicate as often as is necessary, consistently to maintain transparency.

I would like to thank everyone for their understanding and support at this very difficult time. We all understand the enormity of the situation and the sacrifices you as family members and Springfield colleagues are making. We have had so many lovely messages of support, compliments and acts of kindness shown to my colleagues who appreciate this greatly, at times your support has been overwhelming and I would personally like to thank you for this.

There are many activities taking place, it is a lovely sight to see all the rainbows in the windows at some of our care homes, clap for Carers/NHS again very touching scenes throughout the country. I see evidence of innovative activities, staff going the extra mile and the joy the video calls are bringing to families. I have now received the mobile phones which will increase the amount of communication from the homes.

On a day to day basis we continue business as usual although we have had several staff members in each home going off to self- isolate for a variety of reasons we continue to have sufficient staff. We are moving staff around in the homes colleagues are moving between jobs to ensure the smooth running of the homes and continuity of care. Many precautions are in place to maintain safety and reduce any identified risks.

This week we are checking care plans, in particular advanced care plans. Many of you will have contributed when loved ones were admitted, many residents are able to be part of the process and discussions and to make their own wishes known. However on occasions we are able to consult relatives who have been identified by the person or other relatives who for example have power of attorney (For health). We are always mindful of the principles of the Mental Capacity Act and Best Interest decisions.

Our GPs have started checking medications, reviewing and looking if we have sufficient stock due to the uncertainties over the coming weeks.

GPs will also need to discuss with residents and families, as appropriate, care planning for when people become unwell or may be unable to fight off the virus. We all want to make sure that people’s spiritual needs and wishes, the things they want and do not want to happen are respected. These are difficult and sensitive conversations to have but they are important ones, important considerations to think about.

We will at all times offer kindness and compassion and the very best care possible. Please try not to worry. I am extremely grateful for the dedication and care colleagues continue to offer in this period of shielding our residents.

If you have any further questions or would like to speak to a member of the team, please in the first instance, could I direct you to the manager of the home or Angela Randle Head of Kindness, Care and Quality. Visit www.springfieldhealthcare.com/coronavirus-updates/ for latest updates.

Warm regards,

Cyd Akrill M.B.E

Chief Nursing Office


 

24th March 2020

Dear relative or friend of Springfield Healthcare,

I am writing to you, following my recent communication in respect of coronavirus and would like to offer you our latest update.

In my last communication I advised if we had any suspected cases of COVID-19 or if we received different advice from the Government I would have to review the plan which was in place at the time and we may have to consider stopping visits altogether.

I must balance many different opinions, thoughts and requests. I would like to be as honest and transparent as I can when I say I have found this decision a very difficult one to make. I have looked and considered all options open to me and I have discussed this with the Directors within Springfield Healthcare.

This is not a decision I have taken lightly but one made with the well-being and safety of residents, visitors and colleagues in mind. It is my belief that we need to take what will be seen as drastic action in response to the unprecedented position we are currently facing in the country.

Over the weekend the Government issued new guidance to 1.5 million of the most vulnerable people and informed them to self -isolate for at least 12 weeks. The NHS will contact people over 70 years of age and those with serious health conditions in the next few days.

Robert Jenrick, Communities Secretary said the Government had to shield the most vulnerable to save their lives.
As residents in our care homes are extremely vulnerable to the coronavirus and fall within the criteria as deemed by the Government, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend all visits from relatives and friends, unless in the most exceptional circumstances. We believe that by reducing all but vital visitors to our homes this will help protect the health and safety of residents.

We appreciate we have people in our care who are very poorly and may be nearing the end of their life, we will continue to balance the risk to them, other residents in the home and the need to have loved ones close. People who are nearing the end of their life will always be our priority as will their relatives and I know you will agree with this approach.

We want to reassure you that, whilst we are doing our best to keep life as normal as possible for residents, our intention is to follow advice from Public Health England and the Government to determine when visits will return to normal. The Government have advised the measures in place will be for up to 12 weeks.

We will continue to support residents to keep in touch with loved ones via other methods, such as phone and video calls, letters or emails in the short term.

The teams and I are aware of our responsibilities and will persevere throughout these difficult and challenging times.

I would like to thank you all very much for your understanding and support of the homes and my colleagues who will without doubt meet the challenges they face in the coming weeks.

If you have any further questions or would like to speak to a member of the team, please in the first instance, could I direct you to the manager of the home or Angela Randle Head of Kindness, Care and Quality.

Warm regards,

Cyd Akrill M.B.E

Chief Nursing Officer


 

20th March 2020

Skype Video Calling Now Available at Seacroft Grange
We are pleased to announce that we now have Skype video calling available in the home – residents can’t wait to call loved ones and see them too! To arrange your skype call time please contact reception@seacroftgrange.com who will co-ordinate time slots.

You will need to download the Skype app or create a log in on your laptop (webcam required). On the top right hand side of the screen you will see the search symbol, enter the above email address. Then click on add friend. It will then send an email to Seacroft grange with the active link. Then we have to go on the email to confirm it before the first call can be made.

Thank you for your patience, kindness and support during this troubling time. Be assured that the home is running smoothly and our staff are working super hard as always. If you have concerns that you feel we can help with please don’t hesitate to get in touch, it’s a worrying time for all.

Vicky Towse, Home Manager


 

17th March 2020

Dear relative or friend of Springfield Healthcare,

I am writing to you, following my recent communication in respect of the coronavirus and would like to offer you a weekly update.
Going forward we will continue to update you weekly via letter or email in addition we are creating a website dedicated specifically for the purpose of all coronavirus linked information. Please if possible would you kindly inform the manager or receptionist in each home of your preferred method of contact.

You will be aware that the UK has now entered the next phase of their contingency plan which is one of Delay, to try and delay the spread of the virus to enable the country to cope. There are many conflicting pieces of information and advice at the moment, information which changes daily and often lacks detail. By receiving the most relevant and up to date information from the Government, Chief Medical Officer and the Public Health Authorities we, as a senior team, look at the risk, discuss all information, ascertain the risk and agree a plan.  The Director’s and Board are updated on a regular basis and I discuss the topics daily with the Chief Operating Officer. I appreciate that on occasions we see many specialist and experts, offering conflicting advice, we want to offer reassurance and by giving clear information and direction we reduce some of your anxieties.

We have now stopped all events in the homes which involve movement through resident communities, and are increasing community based activities
We have cancelled all non- emergency contractors and have asked each home manager to liaise directly with their local areas to discuss monitoring or regulatory visits are kept to a minimum to encourage social distancing. The Care Quality Commission have now stopped all inspections in the homes and have reduced the amount of information they request and deadlines to take the pressure off providers over the coming weeks.

There will be many businesses who will have to close for set durations, this will put pressure on them financially and inevitably they will have to make their staff redundant. We are more than happy, subject to the appropriate checks, satisfactory DBS and them being of the right calibre, to employ more colleagues during this period.

We are also training non – care staff in order to meet the shortfall in numbers we are expecting over the coming months.

The teams and I are well aware of our responsibilities and will persevere throughout these difficult and challenging times.

I made the request last week to relatives and friends to ask you not to visit to allow us time to establish a robust contingency plan, identify safer routes in and out of the home and communicate to all as appropriate. I would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding, the decrease in visiting has been invaluable. The time has afforded the teams the opportunity to offer certain residents more support, extra personal support for staff and prepare the in depth plans required.

We have now identified routes in each home which reduce the time spent travelling through a community and minimises the risk to residents.
We will try whenever possible to facilitate some visits either in a residents own room or identified safe area.
Please can I ask you to discuss with the manager of the home prior to visiting to ensure we can facilitate the visit.

Obviously at the moment making the arrangements for visits is taking more time than usual therefore we will need to limit visits and ask for your full cooperation in this matter. Time is precious at the moment, in the coming weeks we will have a reduced workforce and residents who will have increased needs.

We appreciate we have people in our care who are very poorly and may be nearing the end of their life, we will continue to balance the risk to them, other residents in the home and the need to have loved ones close. People who are nearing the end of their life will always be our priority as will their relatives and I know you will agree with this approach.

All visitors will be asked to wash their hands prior to entering the home to visit their loved ones.  We prefer hand washing as opposed to using hand sanitiser, therefore you will be directed to the nearest facilities.

Every person who visits increases the risk to themselves and more importantly the people in our care.

If and when we have any suspected cases or differing advice from the Government we will review the current plan in place. I do expect in the coming weeks we may need to have a complete ban for as short a period of time as needed.

The risk at the present time remains moderate, this unfortunately will change, we will adjust accordingly to meet the demands placed on the homes and colleagues working in them.  We must track the activity in other countries and be prepared as per our ongoing contingency plan. Please be assured that we are closely following and complying with the Public Health Authorities to keep residents and colleagues safe.

I would like to thank you all very much for your understanding and support of the homes and my colleagues who will without doubt meet the challenges they face in the coming weeks.

If you have any further questions or would like to speak to a member of the team, please in the first instance, could I direct you to the manager of the home or Angela Randle Head of Kindness, Care and Quality.

Warm regards,

Cyd Akrill M.B.E

Chief Nursing Officer


 

16th March 2020

Dear relative or friend of Springfield Healthcare,

I am writing to you, following my recent letters, to offer further information and updates in respect of the coronavirus.

You will be aware the government have moved to the next phase of their plan -the delay phase which basically means we must try to balance the spread of the virus to reduce the impact on the healthcare system so they can better manage.

We continue to take many steps in order to minimise the risks to the people who live in our homes.

All events, which involved movement through resident communities and non -essential visits for example by contractors have been cancelled or postponed.

Our regulators and other authorities have been notified, we continue to monitor advice from the Public Health Authorities and Government websites.

The advice at the moment is any person who is presenting with a persistent cough and or high temperature must self-isolate. We currently have residents who are being cared for in their rooms due to symptoms of concern which I would deem mild symptoms. Unfortunately, unless people are transferred to hospital, they will not be tested routinely for Covid-19 / Coronavirus.

The critical care beds in our hospitals are in short supply and people will be prioritised, the most poorly people will be transferred to hospital, those presenting with mild symptoms will be cared for and monitored in the community.

As expected, and in line with many pieces of advice and evidence I must now ask you not to visit your loved ones or friends who are living in our homes. This decision has not been taken lightly but in view of advice, evidence and my knowledge, this is the right thing to do. We are in unprecedented times, this has been a very difficult decision to make but, in my heart, I feel it is the correct one.

Please in the first instance if you have any queries or concerns could I ask that you speak to the manager or deputy of the home. When we have residents with symptoms who need to self-isolate, we “barrier nurse” them in line with our infection control policy. By reducing visits this also gives colleagues more time which can be devoted to the people in our care.

We appreciate we have people currently who are very poorly and may be nearing the end of their life, we will balance the risk to them, other residents in the home and the need to have their loved ones close. I am very aware how upsetting this could be, we will try to get the balance right and will always be mindful of supporting you and the people in our care.

We have identified a route in each home which does not involve, or reduces the time going through the communal areas, people who are poorly would be in their rooms and again this reduces the risk to others.

In discussion with the manager of the home we can offer an update every few days on the condition or activity of your loved one. We can look at alternative ways to keep in touch for example, phone calls, email or video calls again please discuss this with the manager who will ensure the team are aware and monitor this. I hope this offers you some reassurance. If at any time we are concerned or a person in our care becomes unwell or deteriorates we will of course inform you and arrange for you to visit.

At Springfield we are committed to residents and colleagues, these measures are to protect them and also you who are in the wider community.

We would greatly appreciate your support and cooperation during the coming weeks, we will endeavour to keep you informed on a weekly basis with all measures and updates.

If you have any further questions or would like to speak to a member of the team, please in the first instance, could I direct you to the manager of the home or Angela Randle Head of Kindness, Care and Quality.

Warm regards,

Cyd Akrill M.B.E

Chief Nursing Officer


 

13th March 2020

Dear relative or friend of Springfield Healthcare,

I am writing to you, following my recent letters, to offer further information and updates in respect of the coronavirus.

You will be aware the government have moved to the next phase of their plan -the delay phase which basically means we must try to balance the spread of the virus to reduce the impact on the healthcare system so they can better manage.

We continue to take many steps in order to minimise the risks to the people who live in our homes.

All events, which involved movement through resident communities and non -essential visits for example by contractors have been cancelled or postponed.

Our regulators and other authorities have been notified, we continue to monitor advice from the Public Health Authorities and Government websites.

The advice at the moment is any person who is presenting with a persistent cough and or high temperature must self-isolate. We currently have residents who are being cared for in their rooms due to symptoms of concern which I would deem mild symptoms. Unfortunately, unless people are transferred to hospital, they will not be tested routinely for covid 19 / coronavirus.

The critical care beds in our hospitals are in short supply and people will be prioritised, the most poorly people will be transferred to hospital, those presenting with mild symptoms will be cared for and monitored in the community.

As expected, and in line with many pieces of advice and evidence I must now ask you not to visit your loved ones or friends who are living in our homes. This decision has not been taken lightly but in view of advice, evidence and my knowledge, this is the right thing to do. We are in unprecedented times, this has been a very difficult decision to make but in my heart, I feel it is the correct one.

Please in the first instance if you have any queries or concerns could I ask that you speak to the manager or deputy of the home. When we have residents with symptoms who need to self-isolate, we “barrier nurse” them in line with our infection control policy. By reducing visits this also gives colleagues more time which can be devoted to the people in our care.

We appreciate we have people currently who are very poorly and may be nearing the end of their life, we will balance the risk to them, other residents in the home and the need to have their loved ones close. I am very aware how upsetting this could be, we will try to get the balance right and will always be mindful of supporting you and the people in our care.

We have identified a route in each home which does not involve, or reduces the time going through the communal areas, people who are poorly would be in their rooms and again this reduces the risk to others.

In discussion with the manager of the home we can offer an update every few days on the condition or activity of your loved one. We can look at alternative ways to keep in touch for example, phone calls, email or video calls again please discuss this with the manager who will ensure the team are aware and monitor this. I hope this offers you some reassurance. If at any time we are concerned or a person in our care becomes unwell or deteriorates we will of course inform you and arrange for you to visit.

At Springfield we are committed to residents and colleagues, these measures are to protect them and also you who are in the wider community.

We would greatly appreciate your support and cooperation during the coming weeks, we will endeavour to keep you informed on a weekly basis with all measures and updates.
If you have any further questions or would like to speak to a member of the team, please in the first instance, could I direct you to the manager of the home or Angela Randle Head of Kindness, Care and Quality.

Warm regards,

Cyd Akrill M.B.E

Chief Nursing Officer


 

11th March 2020

Dear relative or friend of Springfield Healthcare,

I am writing to you, following my recent letter, to offer further information in respect of the coronavirus.

The UK remains in the containment phase which mainly involves preventing the spread of the virus. However, I expect the government will shortly move to the next phase in the coming days, this being one of delaying the spread. We are taking many steps in order to minimise the risks to the people in our care.

Next week we will stop all events in the homes which involve movement through resident communities, this will include entertainment and training sessions. We have commenced this process and may have to escalate actions in line with advice from the Public Health Authorities.

We are making alternative arrangements for training sessions and induction programmes to host these away from the homes. Each home will be looking at how they can continue to deliver a programme of events in the home without using external sources.

We have cancelled all non- emergency contractors and have asked each home manager to liaise directly with their local areas to discuss monitoring or regulatory visits are kept to a minimum to encourage social distancing.

We are also encouraging visitors to reduce their visits and if any person has a cold, cough or temperature we will request they do not enter the home. All visitors will be asked to wash their hands prior to entering the home to visit their loved ones. We prefer hand washing as opposed to using hand sanitiser, therefore you will be directed to the nearest facilities.

Over the coming weeks we are entering into unprecedented times and will have to make difficult but sensible decisions. It is vital we have your full cooperation in this matter, I do expect we will have to stop visits to loved ones very soon, in anticipation I would like you to discuss this with the manager of the home. We appreciate we have people in our care who are very poorly and may be nearing the end of their life, we will balance the risk to them, other residents in the home and the need to have their loved ones close. I am very aware how upsetting this could be therefore we will try to get the balance right and will always be mindful of supporting you and the people in our care.

The risk at the present time remains low to moderate, this unfortunately will change, we will adjust accordingly to meet the demands placed on the homes and colleagues working in them. We must track the activity in other countries and be prepared as per our ongoing contingency plan. As part of our contingency, we are training non care staff in the event of any staff shortages we will have additional staff to assist in the homes.

We would greatly appreciate your support with all these measures. Please be assured that we are closely following and complying with the Public Health Authorities to keep residents and colleagues safe.

I would like to thank you all for your continued support of the home and my colleagues who will without doubt meet the challenges they face in the coming weeks.
If you have any further questions or would like to speak to a member of the team, please in the first instance, could I direct you to the manager of the home or Angela Randle Head of Kindness, Care and Quality.

Warm regards,

Cyd Akrill M.B.E

Chief Nursing Officer