Coronavirus (COVID-19) – January 2021
ECHO continues to take the health and wellbeing of our Patients, Services Users and staff very seriously. We have a COVID-19 Response Procedure and a robust Plan of Action in place for each Service and these are supported by specific Risk Assessments. These are reviewed regularly and enable us to take all the necessary steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard our Patients, Service Users and staff teams as much as possible.
We are also following all the available guidance from the Government and our regulators and following the latest lockdown and the new strain of the virus, which is much more infectious, it has changed again in regard to visitors to our Services and the introduction of rapid testing using Lateral Flow Devices.
The significant rises in confirmed COVID-19 cases, which includes care settings, is very concerning and we are being extra vigilant in relation to visiting and only essential visiting is being allowed and all visitors must consent to undertake a COVID-19 rapid test.
The following advice from ECHO will highlight the steps the organisation is taking across its sites in relation to COVID-19 and visitors. Please read this before visiting one of our Services.
For comprehensive information about the coronavirus itself, please visit either the www.gov.uk or NHS websites, or call NHS 24 (Scotland only).
Before visiting a ECHO service
ECHO services remain open to only limited and essential visitors. Before visiting, please consider the following:
- Is your visit essential? We are currently advising visitors to only enter an ECHO service if it is absolutely necessary to do so. If you can delay your visit or achieve its purpose via another method (i.e. through a phone call or video call) please do so.
- Are you currently feeling unwell? Please do not visit an ECHO service for any reason if you currently feel unwell, particularly if you have a cough, a fever or high temperature, have a loss of taste or smell or have shortness of breath.
- If you are living with, or have come into contact with, someone that is unwell recently we would also request that you don’t proceed with your visit.
- You must be prepared to undertake a COVID-19 rapid test which includes taking a swab from your throat and nose. The test will take approximately 45 minutes and must be completed prior to your visit going ahead. If you test positive your visit will not be able to proceed and you will be given a 2nd test to take home and will need to self-isolate until you receive the results of your 2nd test.
If you are unsure whether you should visit, or if there are exceptional circumstances that mean a visit is necessary despite the conditions above, please speak to the Home/Service Manager before visiting the Service.
We do appreciate this is a difficult time for everyone and especially for Patients and Service Users who want to see their family and friends, but this has to be balanced with the risks and maintaining people’s health and wellbeing including that of the teams providing care and support in very difficult and challenging circumstances.
How to safely visit an ECHO service:
Each Service has a visiting Policy or Protocol which must be adhered to. If you don’t have a copy of this, please contact the Service and they will be happy to provide you with one. The Policy or Protocol follows current Government guidance and is supported by a local Risk Assessment. These will be reviewed as guidance changes.
Having considered the above information and the Policy or Protocol, if you are still planning to visit it is important that you do so safely and in a way that minimises the risk of infection to our Patients, Service Users and colleagues. Therefore, before visiting and whilst on site, please consider the following:
- Hand washing. It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly before you visit the service, and regularly whilst you are at the site. Please make sure you wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds, using either hot water and soap or 60% alcohol sanitiser gel.
- Coughs and sneezes. We understand there are many reasons why someone may have a cough or sneeze. However, whilst visiting a site please make sure you have a tissue with you at all times so that you can catch a cough or sneeze. Please then immediately dispose of the tissue in the bin. Remember – Catch it. Bin it. Kill it.
- You will be asked to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) whilst you visit, and this may include aprons and gloves. Please co-operate with wearing these if asked or your visit may not be able to go ahead. If you are asked to wear PPE this is because we have received guidance instructing us that this is required. Guidance in England and Scotland may differ but the Policy and Protocol will clearly state what PPE must be worn.
- In all circumstances, please bring with you a face mask (it can be a cloth one) as you are likely to be asked to wear a mask as a minimum. All visits must be pre-booked, and you will be required to ‘sign in’ in case we need your details for Test and Trace purposes (Test and Protect in Scotland). If you don’t have a mask one will be provided.
- You will be asked to complete a Visiting Declaration and Consent Form and in addition to the rapid testing your temperature will be taken. If your temperature is outside of the normal range (above 37.8c) your visit will not be able to go ahead.
- Remember some people do not develop symptoms of Covid-19 and the testing is not totally reliable so you still may be able to transmit it to other people so the use of PPE and social distancing is still imperative otherwise you could inadvertently introduce it to the Service which could have catastrophic results.
- Visits will be conducted in designated areas which include garden areas, and some Services may have designated rooms inside. Again, this will be detailed in the Policy or Protocol for that Service.
- Some Patients & Service Users may be more vulnerable to Covid-19 due to various characteristics so there may be individual visiting requirements in place. The Service will be able to tell you if this applies to the person you are visiting.
- England and Scotland have different guidance in relation to numbers of visitors so you will need to refer to the Policy or Protocol for that Service to know how many visitors are allowed. Regardless of how many people visit social distancing must be maintained even if it is only one person.
- We will also suspend all but critical visits if there is an outbreak in the Service.
- Currently no one under 16 is allowed on our sites due to the national lockdown.
- No pets are allowed with the exception of guide dogs.
Protecting our Patients/Service Users and colleagues
Please be assured that ECHO is treating this matter with the utmost seriousness and comprehensive contingency plans are in place in the event of a coronavirus outbreak at a Service.
We have already taken action, including securing the medical and other supplies we may need in the event of an outbreak in a Service and have developed the policies and protocols needed to make sure ECHO can continue to provide high-quality and person- centred care and support.
ECHO will be monitoring and reacting to the latest guidance issued by the UK Government and Devolved Administrations, the NHS, and public health bodies.
This page will be updated to reflect the latest information and advice including any additional steps we are taking to protect Patients/Service Users and colleagues, as and when this is required.