Our response to the sustained Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – September 2021
Although the Government has moved to stage 4 of its Roadmap and most restrictions have been removed the ECHO Group 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 continue to limit the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard our Patients, Service Users and staff teams as much as possible and this is just as important now as we learn to live with the virus, and it continues to circulate in our local communities.
We are also following all the available guidance from the Government and our regulators, and it has changed in relation to how we support visits to our Services.
In relation to visiting there are now no restrictions on numbers, but all visitors must consent to undertake a COVID-19 rapid test, and this must be negative before a visit can proceed. The only exclusion to this is if you have been positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and you can demonstrate this, as you then don’t need to be tested unless you become symptomatic again, or after the 90 days is complete.
Even if you are fully vaccinated you still have to take a COVID-19 rapid test as you can still catch the virus and spread it although the risk is much reduced.
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 – Friends & Family
ECHO services are currently open to visiting but before visiting, please consider the following:
- 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 unless absolutely necessary. If it does go ahead, we may take extra precautions in relation to social distancing and PPE.
- 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 you will need to self-isolate until you receive the results of your 2nd test.
- Ideally, we would like all visitors to have been vaccinated (where available) as this reduces the risk significantly.
If you are unsure whether you should visit, please speak to the Home/Service Manager before visiting the Service.
We do appreciate this continues to be a difficult time for everyone and especially for Patients and Service Users who want to see their family and friends, so we do want to support visits, but this has still 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.
- We will try to ensure that internal areas used for visiting are well ventilated as this helps disperse the virus and reduces the risk.
- 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 rapid 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 recommended, otherwise you could inadvertently introduce it to the Service which could have catastrophic results.
- Please keep physical contact to a minimum but it is ok to have a short hug and hold hands.
- Visits will be conducted in designated areas which include garden areas and 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.
- We will also suspend all but critical visits if there is an outbreak in the Service.
Protecting our Patients/Service Users and colleagues
Regardless of the removal of restrictions please be assured that ECHO is treating this sustained pandemic 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 and have developed the policies and protocols needed to make sure ECHO can continue to provide high-quality and person- centred care and support whilst supporting visiting.
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.