Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Our response to the sustained Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – updated February 2022

Although the Government has now removed all restrictions for the general public the ECHO Group continues to take the health and wellbeing of our Patients, Services Users and staff very seriously. The Department of Health & Social Care have not changed any of the guidance for health and social care settings, so we are still following strict procedures in relation to testing, PPE and infection prevention and control. We continue to have a COVID-19 Response Procedure and a robust Plan of Action in place for each Service and these are supported by Risk Assessments.

These procedures 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.

In relation to visiting there are no restrictions on numbers and the amounts of visits, but all visitors must consent to undertake a COVID-19 rapid test, and this must be negative before a visit can proceed. 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 continued 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 or NHS websites, or call NHS 24 (Scotland only).

Before visiting an ECHO service – Friends & Family
ECHO services are fully 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. The test will take approximately 20-30 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 we advise you self-isolate until you receive the results of your 2nd test.
  • Ideally, we would like all visitors to have been doubly vaccinated 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 that Patients and Service Users want to see their family and friends, so we will do all we can to support visits. This still 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. If we have an outbreak, we may still suspend visits for a short period.

How to safely visit an ECHO service:

Each Service has a visiting Policy or Protocol in place. 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 continues to change.

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 Covid-19 virus and reduces the risk.
  • 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. It is preferable that visits are 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.
  • 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.

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.