28th May 2020

Visiting Arrangements

Hello all,

Following on from Tim’s update yesterday, I am writing to confirm visiting arrangements for Avenue House as follows, starting on Monday 1st June:

  • Visiting times will be between 10:30am – 12pm and 2:30pm – 4:30pm, every day

     

  • Visiting slots will last 20 minutes

     

  • 1 visitor per resident (this can be a different person on different visits, but not more than one per visit)

     

  • Please book a visiting slot by telephoning Avenue House on 0117 989 2020 – unfortunately we will not be dealing with bookings via email

     

  • Visits will take place in the side garden (overlooking Redland Park)

     

  • Please enter the garden by coming through the front gate and walking straight down the side path to the right (please do not come in via the driveway)

     

  • Exit will be the same way you came in

     

  • A gazebo will be put up in the garden which will shelter 2 tables separated by a perspex screen, to ensure 2 meter distancing

     

  • A staff member will discreetly ensure social distancing is maintained at all times

     

  • Once you have left, a staff member will be available to assist the resident back into Avenue House

     

  • Please do not visit if you are displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 whatsoever

We are really pleased to be able to start welcoming visitors to Avenue House again but I am sure you will agree that it is important that we get this absolutely right, and start it very tentatively.  With your support we have done a wonderful job of keeping Avenue House COVID-19 free and we don’t want to ruin that now.

We look forward to seeing you very soon!

Best wishes,

Caroline

27.05.20
COVID-19 Update

 

Dear all,   

 

I hope this update finds you well.  Lots of positive news this week.

 

Firstly, we have got most results back from testing staff and residents. There are a few that need to be redone as the results were inconclusive but the others are all negative so that is great.   Huge thanks to all for taking infection risks so seriously.

 

We had a long discussion about visiting today.  We, as always, carefully weighed up the pros and cons.   We considered the continuing low infection rates in the South West, test results and other factors and have taken the decision to tentatively allow limited visiting.  We partly want to make use of the good weather which allows us to use the garden which poses far less risk.   So from next Monday we will be encouraging visits, in the garden only.  Please note that no entry to Avenue House will be permitted.    We will limit visitors to one per resident and they will need to be pre booked and time limited.  We will also be setting up an area in the garden which facilitates social distancing.   You will also need to adhere to some rules (like only visiting if you feel fine, entering and leaving site from different directions) – Caroline will be providing more details and how to book your slot by the end of the week.  Staff will also be at hand to facilitate anything and we will keep the situation under very close review.   This all sounds a bit formal but hope you will agree with our baby steps approach to this.     We are aware that some residents may not want visits as they are concerned about risks so we will check this out as well.

 

We remain closed to hospital admissions – we really don’t think that the processes regarding hospital discharges are robust enough yet.  As previously discussed, we will consider risk assessed admissions from the community and the expansion of testing allows us to do this with more confidence.  However, the vast majority of all care home admissions come from hospital following some episode like a fall so we really don’t expect a mass of people waiting to get in.

 

As always, please feel free to give feedback and thoughts on any of this.

 

With best wishes,

Tim Wye

Chair

21.05.20
COVID-19 Update

Dear All,

 

Really not very much at all to update you with – our position remains exactly the same.  We are closed to visitors and we are not accepting admissions (except if we have someone who really wants to come from the community and we assess them as safe as mentioned last week).  The Board really wants to see the impact on prevalence rates of current relaxation of rules over the next few weeks and have asked staff to be vigilant and extra careful in their home lives as things loosen.  We obviously weigh this up against resident morale but that seems to be holding up.  We have asked a resident to provide some direct feed back to the Board on this at our next Zoom meeting and will continue to weigh up that balance as it is really important. Feedback from relatives and residents seems to support this action but your views and feedback are always very welcome.

 

COVID-19 testing has commenced on all staff and residents where consent is given.  When the results come through Caroline will contact each relative individually with the results.

 

I would also just mention that a tenant did sadly die in Lansdowne House last week.  It was not COVID-19 related and Lansdowne is one of the flats and not related to Avenue House.   I only mention this in case you have heard rumours of another death and thought it might be in Avenue House.

 

Please continue skyping into your relatives, send cards, or whatever. We are more than happy for gifts to be dropped off to the home – we would ask that they are placed in a plastic bag after strict handwashing procedures and left outside the front door.  If you then telephone us to tell us where the parcel is we will pass it onto the resident.  It’s important people don’t feel abandoned.

 

Take care all.

Tim Wye

Chair

13.05.20
COVID-19 Update

Dear All,

I wanted to start with some positives apart from the main one which is that we remain free of COVID-19 at Avenue House with no cases amongst residents or carer staff.

Firstly, we are pleased that we have now been able to order home testing kits. This will allow us to test both staff and residents (with consent) which should give us early warning of anyone with COVID-19 as well as allowing staff who may be off with suspected infection to get back to work quickly. I think it just adds an additional level of security. Caroline will be contacting those of you with Lasting Power of Attorney for consent to test residents but if you can all reiterate the importance of testing that would be great.

Secondly, PPE supplies seem to be improving which had been causing us concern so that is another piece of good news.

Everything else remains more or less the same. We still are not taking new admissions from hospital. The only change is that if we do get an inquiry from the community where a person has been living alone and practicing self-isolation we may consider that person on a case by case basis. We won’t be actively chasing admissions though and the vast majority of admissions happen as a result of some adverse episode like a fall.

You will obviously see that the government has announced some loosening of lockdown. We discussed at length whether we should therefore alter our current no visitor rule. It’s a careful balance between maintaining residents general and mental wellbeing with the risks of COVID-19. To cut a long story short, we concluded that the risks of increased infection rates created by the current easing of measures are unknown. We have done extremely well at keeping COVID-19 out of Avenue House and we don’t want to mess that up now if we get a second wave. Also, resident morale seems to be holding up pretty well. We will keep an eye on the situation and will continue to think how and when we could re-introduce controlled visiting. I hope you understand.

I have also filmed a video update for residents, staff and relatives which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbZOgnMdLl0

Stay Safe everyone!

Regards

Tim Wye

5th May 2020

COVID-19 Update

Dear Relative,

 Whilst it still all feels a bit strange we do seem to be entering a bit of a routine regarding COVID-19 and Lockdown.  Hence, there is not much to report again in this weekly brief.

The key points are that whilst people are beginning to talk about easing lockdown, we are aware that Care Home residents are still at risk and we remain closed to visitors (except for residents who are terminally ill).  We still have not had any cases of COVID-19 amongst staff and we would like to keep it that way.

With reducing risk in mind we are still not taking new admissions.  At present we have 5 vacancies which if you multiply your relative’s fees gives you an idea of the amount we are losing each month!  At the moment we are in a very fortunate position to have reserves enough to cover this but there may come a point, especially if we have more vacancies, that we will need to take in new residents (I think you will agree the last thing we want to see is Avenue House get into financial problems).  This is not imminent but I thought you should be aware now that this situation is going to remain with us for some time.  We can’t remain closed to new residents forever.  We would assure you that we would take all measures necessary to keep people safe and keep you updated.  

Morale remains good amongst staff and residents.  I had to deliver some masks the other day and I waved at a few residents through the window.  They seemed chirpy! If you follow our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TheWestOfEnglandFriendsHousingSociety/?ref=bookmarks), you will see that our Activities Coordinator Karen and the staff are doing a great job of keeping all of the residents active and entertained – we particularly enjoyed the ping pong videos the other day! There are plans for a street party style supper to celebrate V.E. day later this week, so we look forward to seeing the pictures from that.  A local Dominoes have also offered to deliver some free pizzas to staff and residents tomorrow which is such a kind gesture, and one that will no doubt go down well!      

Testing is now becoming more available for both staff and residents.  It’s still evolving and there still appears to be some capacity issues in the system, but this is good news and allows us to identify anyone who has the virus quickly, and take appropriate action like isolation.  Testing would also be available to any new admissions.  Whilst testing is only good for the day it is done, it does significantly reduce risks.   

You may hear that we are also doing a few more tests within Avenue House, notably more frequent blood pressures and taking people’s oxygen levels.  This will allow us to make better referrals to the GP and hospitals.

In other news, the plans for our new conservatory are still progressing, albeit slowly.  We have gone through the pre-application stage and the architect needs to make some minor amendments.   We won’t be committing to actual build until we fully understand the implications of COVID-19.

So that is about it.  Stay safe and sane! 

Tim Wye

Chair

28th April 2020

COVID-19 Update

Dear Relative, 

It has only been a few days since my last update on 24th, so I don’t have much more to report from today’s Board Meeting.  Most things remain the same so all of the information in my last update below is still relevant.  We are still closed to visitors (except if a resident is at the end of life) and we are still not taking on new residents. 

Just a couple of things to note:

  • Firstly, you may have the date of our AGM in your diaries, which was originally set for 20th May 2020.  Clearly we are not going to have a physical meeting at Avenue House but we are looking at other ways to hold something.   We will certainly be having some kind of ‘end of COVID-19’ event as and when we are able. 
  • Secondly, regarding the sad death we had last week – we did not think it was COVID-19 related and having spoken to the Coroner yesterday, Caroline has been informed that, from the police report, they have no concerns that the resident had any symptoms relevant to COVID-19.
  • Whilst we are on Caroline – she has been allowed back to work at Avenue House and will be there on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays until 2:30pm.  She is working from home on other days so can still be contacted at any time.

Finally, I am conscious of the report today about the number of deaths in Care Homes  (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52455072) This will have likely caused more concern, but it also shows the care sector is getting more help with areas such as PPE.  It also talks about expanding tests to residents – you can help us here by reinforcing the need for testing with residents.  However, it still reminds us how serious this is for our residents and loved ones.   As always, we aim to keep them as safe and well cared for as we can at this time.   

Best Wishes,

Tim Wye

Chair

24th April 2020

COVID- 19 Update

Dear Relative,

As promised, this is the third of my updates from the Board which is meeting every Tuesday (virtually). Apologies for delay, there were a couple of things I was looking to clarify – we have carried out a risk assessment of all the issues and I wanted to do that before this update.

It has been good to talk to most relatives over the last week, Caroline or I have spoken to most people now and it’s been good to share some views. 

Here are answers to what I imagine will be some of your questions:

Do any of the residents show signs of infection?

No.   We have very sadly had another death in the home this week but it does not appear to be related to COVID-19 (we have not had cause of death yet but there are no signs that the person had the virus.  I will of course update you if this is different)

Do any staff have Coronavirus?

No.   Staff are being very careful both inside Avenue House and at home. You may also have heard that testing has now been made available to Care Homes so we will be able to get any staff tested who think they may have the virus.  This should provide relatives with some more assurance. 

Is Avenue House closed?

Avenue House remains closed to all visitors except essential Health Professionals (mainly District Nurses).  We are also only carrying out essential maintenance.  For example, one bathroom needs some repairs but we can manage without it and have decided it can wait to cut down on visitors.  Anyone who does come to the home does so compliant with rules to reduce infection.

Visits to people who are dying

The guidance from Government has changed on this.   Relatives will now be able to visit if a resident is in the last stages of life (be that for COVID-19 or any other cause).   We welcome this as we know this is important for relatives and residents. There are a few things that you do need to bear in mind which we will discuss in more detail should the situation arise.

  •  Firstly, we will need to make sure you wear protective equipment and you understand the basic ideas of infection control. 
  •  Secondly, if the resident has COVID-19 you should self-isolate after visiting.   This is 14 days so may mean that you can’t attend a funeral. 
  • Thirdly and most importantly, you should seriously consider not visiting if you, as a relative, have any health conditions or are in an at-risk group.

These are difficult decisions and you need to consider them carefully.  If you decide it is not appropriate to visit, our staff will manage the situation in their normal kind and professional way.  Also, no one is going to make any value judgements around your decision to visit or not.

End of Life Planning

Caroline and I have spoken to relatives about this.   Just to reiterate, there is a process called ReSPECT forms where residents can tell us what they want to happen at end of life.   We can only go by what is documented so if you want to make any changes or plans, we would encourage you to talk with your loved ones and let us know what their wishes are.   Staff will do everything they can to abide by these wishes  but we would also remind you that medical decisions (including admitting to hospital) are made by the resident’s GP, not Avenue House.

Do we have enough staff?

Yes, we do at the moment. We only have two members of staff who are off because they have been advised to shield as they have health conditions that put them at risk.  We were fortunate to be fully staffed at the time of the outbreak. Staff are being really great at being flexible, swapping shifts, cancelling holidays etc.   We also have some good agency staff who are with us.   

Thanks to everyone who has sent good wishes to staff, it helps.   As a Board we value our staff and have decided to take some money out of reserves to give them a pay bonus as a mark of appreciation to the additional risk and difficulty at this time.  

Good news is that Caroline is now off the list of people who have to shield so from next week will be in part time at Avenue House.

How are we managing infection control within Avenue House?

We are setting up a training log to make sure all staff are aware and have undertaken on-line training for managing infection control. The supply of PPE seems to be improving and stock levels are satisfactory

Admissions to Avenue House

Contrary to Government guidance we are still resisting pressure to take people from hospital even though tests are now available for people being discharged.  We do not feel we want to put residents at risk even though that is significantly reduced with testing. This is of course subject to change.

Finally, it is worth remembering that people do recover from this as shown by this story of Connie Titchen who is 106 and recovered from the virus

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-52296196

Our thoughts remain with you all at this difficult time.

Tim Wye

Chair of Trustees

14th April 2020

COVID-19 Update

Dear Relative,

As promised, this is the second of my updates from the Board which is (virtually) meeting every Tuesday.

You no doubt will have seen some of the coverage in the news about COVID-19 and care homes and this will have caused you concern. We are doing everything we can to support residents, but this week’s news has shown the seriousness of the current situation. I am sorry this update is a bit bleaker.

Partly in response to that, this week, Caroline and I are going to make contact with relatives to just provide a personal update and to talk about specific plans you want for your relative at Avenue House and any individual questions you may have.

Here are answers to what I imagine will be some of your questions:

Do any of the residents show signs of infection?

No. However, without being alarmist this is a very infectious disease and we have to face the possibility that, even with the best infection control, it could get into Avenue House.

Do any staff have Coronavirus?

No. Staff are being very careful both inside Avenue House and at home

Is Avenue House closed?

Avenue House remains closed to all visitors except essential healthcare professionals (mainly District Nurses).
Unfortunately, following advice, we have currently taken the decision that even if a resident is facing the possibility of dying with COVID-19 we still can’t let visitors in. This, I know, is an incredibly hard message, but we just do not want to put relatives in the position of catching and spreading the virus. We are seeking Public Health advice on this and will update you if we can relax this. Please remember (whilst it is not a substitute) we have set up opportunities for on-line video calls.

Do we have enough staff?

Yes, we do at the moment. We were fortunate to be fully staffed at the time of the outbreak. Staff are being really great at being flexible, swapping shifts, cancelling holidays etc. We also have some good agency staff who are with us.
Thanks to everyone who has sent good wishes to staff, it helps. As a Board we value our staff and have decided to take some money out of reserves to give them a pay bonus as a mark of appreciation to the additional risk and difficulty at this time.

How are we managing infection control within Avenue House?

We have enough personal protective equipment (gloves, masks gel etc.) to manage infection control at the moment. We have also got some equipment (e.g. visors) which we need if we were to have an outbreak. We are attempting to source more to prepare for an outbreak situation.

Admissions to Avenue House

Contrary to government guidance, we are resisting pressure to take people from hospital without testing negative. We hope that testing will be rolled out soon to allow us to take a position on this but at the moment we do not feel we want to put residents at risk.
We have had one resident return from hospital (not COVID-19 related) and we think that is fair enough because Avenue House is their home. They will be isolated in their room for 14 days according to guidelines of people who have been in locations which are higher risk.

Planning Contingency

The Board continues to meet every Tuesday (virtually) to support Caroline and staff in making decisions. I am also in daily contact with Caroline.
We have ideas we can put in place like recruiting short term (we already have some possibilities) or working with partner care providers who work in the community but things are OK at the moment.

Finally, just to repeat that I realise these are incredibly testing times and I know relatives and residents are missing each other.

Our thoughts are with you all at this time, Caroline or I look forward to talking to you in person.

Tim Wye
Chair of Trustees

 

6th April 2020 COVID-19 Update Dear Relative, I thought it would be useful if I provided you with a weekly quick update regarding the position of Avenue House in the current Pandemic. This is, of course, not as a replacement to you being able to contact us with any queries at this incredibly hard time. Is Avenue House closed? Avenue House remains closed to all visitors except essential health professionals (mainly District Nurses) Do any of the residents show signs of infection? No. You may have heard from residents that we did sadly have a death in the home this weekend but this was completely unrelated to Coronavirus. Do any staff have Coronavirus? No. We currently have 3 members of staff who are self isolating following public health advice, as a precaution. Staff are being very careful both inside Avenue House and at home. Do we have enough staff? Yes, we do at the moment. We were fortunate to be fully staffed at the time of the outbreak. Staff are being really great at being flexible, swapping shifts, cancelling holidays etc. We also have some good agency staff who are with us. We have had some staff who have self isolated in circumstances that may well not be the virus. Whilst that is the correct thing for them to do, it is frustrating that we can’t test our staff so they can return to work. Hopefully, as testing is rolled out, we will be able to access this. Any notes or cards to staff to say thanks are very welcome. How are we managing infection control within Avenue House? We have enough personal protective equipment (gloves, masks, gel etc) to manage infection control. We have also reiterated to residents the need for hand washing and not touching people. In response to a relative suggestion we also looked at social distancing (for example using the lounge as an additional dining room). We tried this but it did prove very hard and residents really did not like it. Avenue House is quite a small home and the only way we can guarantee social distancing is to isolate residents in their rooms. If you are worried about this and the resident agrees (we obviously can’t force them) we can facilitate anyone who wants to isolate in their own rooms. If someone shows the slightest symptoms they will of course be isolated. Planning Contingency The Board is meeting every Tuesday (virtually) to support Caroline and staff in making decisions. I am also in daily contact with Caroline. You know that Caroline has been told to shield so is working from home. She is in constant telephone and video contact and is still very much in charge. Beckie (Assistant Manager) has fabulously stepped up as well. It’s actually working out pretty well. We have ideas we can put in place like recruiting short term (we already have some possibilities) or working with partner care providers who work in the community, but things are OK at the moment. I hope this is helpful. I realise these are incredibly testing times and I know relatives and residents are missing each other. Our thoughts are with you all at this time Tim Wye Chair of Trustees 24th March 2020 COVID-19 update Hello all,

We hope you are all keeping safe and healthy. Unfortunately Avenue House is now on complete lockdown and is only open to staff and Healthcare Professionals. We really didn’t want to have to do this but we are sure you all understand why it’s necessary given the fast developments in the Coronavirus pandemic. We know that it is going to be incredibly difficult not seeing your loved ones, so to try to maintain as much contact as possible, we have set up a Skype account for the home. The address has been emailed out to everyone we have email details for – please call if you have not received anything and would like the details. Please let us know if and when you would like to use this and we will ensure that the resident is in the right place and connected! Please also keep an eye on our Facebook page, where we will try to upload as many photos as possible. We have today been informed that our Manager Caroline is on the ‘at risk’ register, and therefore will be required to self isolate for the next 12 weeks. Fear not though, she will still be actively involved in the day to day management of the home as she is being set up to work from home as far as possible. She will be in constant contact with the staff at Avenue House and is more than happy for any relatives or residents to contact her whenever they like, either by email, phonecall or Whatsapp video call. Again, details have been emailed to everyone today but please do call in if you have not received anything. Thank you so much to everyone that has offered help and support should we need it – we will miss not seeing you all for a while! Stay safe, Avenue House