We’ve witnessed many memorable and moving moments when Residents and their loved ones have been reunited through the introduction of safe garden and window visits.

We’ve been incredibly mindful of the emotional suffering that many Residents and Relatives will have experienced during the pandemic and sought ways that we could help them to maintain contact including virtual visits through the use of technology, telephone calls, letters and emails.

Sadly, the stark reality of the coronavirus is that statistically it is likely to have the most devastating effect on elderly members of society so it has been necessary for us to protect our Residents in every way possible and one of the ways has been to limit their exposure to people who might unknowingly be carrying the virus. 

Why did HC-One restrict Residents receiving visits from their loved ones?
The Office for National Statistics reported that by 29 May more than 46,000 people had died from coronavirus in England and Wales, and that more than 4 in 5 of those people were aged 70 or over. 

When we look at the number of deaths from coronavirus for each thousand people there is an even more stark relationship. In age groups up to and including 60-69, fewer than 1 in 1,000 people have died from coronavirus, however: 

•          Age 70-79, it’s 2 in every 1,000 people
•          Age 80-89, it’s 7 in every 1,000 people
•          Age 90 and over, it’s 18 people in every 1,000 people 

Safe garden and window visits
In early July the governments in England, Scotland and Wales started to ease the degree of lockdown based on what they respectively believed was the best way of managing this safely; similarly this easing gave us an opportunity to introduce safe garden and window visits. Safe garden and window visits have been a popular first step in reuniting close friends and family, whilst taking necessary caution for the safety of everyone.

At this time we can only offer safe garden visits at care homes that have had no reported a coronavirus outbreak in the last 28 days and to Residents who are well enough to be able to receive a visit. Whilst this might seem a little cautious, the majority of our care homes have not reported a coronavirus outbreak in the last 28 days, and this approach has already helped us to reunite many families which has been a wonderful first step.

We’ve tried to make your safe outdoor visits as comfortable as possible by ordering extra furniture and new garden gazebos to provide some shelter from the sun or light rain but to help you get the most out of your visits we’ve prepared some guidance that we hope you will find useful.

Our Colleagues will discuss this with you so that we can make sure that Residents and their loved ones are supported in the most appropriate, and safest way.

Visiting next steps
Whilst safe garden and window visits do not offer a solution to everyone; it has reunited many families with their loved ones and we are working hard to move towards the next steps of welcoming families to visit their Relatives in our homes once again when the government guidance allows us to do so and when it is safe to do so at each of our homes; we will be prioritising visits to those Residents with the greatest health needs for whom it is more difficult to see their loved ones outside.

Compassionate visits
Sadly some Residents move into our care homes to receive professional care at the end of their lives due to critical health conditions; in these extreme cases we’re able to arrange compassionate “in-room” visits for close family members. Compassionate visits are really important for our Residents and their families so we do everything that we can to help you get the most out of these visits in the safest way possible.

Local lockdown
We remain incredibly alert to hotspots emergingacross the country, the infection rates in our local c
ommunities and any action taken by central government or local authorities in the affected areas.
We always prioritise the health and wellbeing of Residents, and the Colleagues who care for them, and we are ready to act quickly to respond to the hotspots and/or any new restrictions imposed by  he government or local authorities. This may mean placing homes in temporary lockdown as a precautionary measure to safeguard everyone at the home. This will mean that these homes would be temporarily closed to non-essential visitors, and window and outdoor visiting would be postponed.

Virtual visits via video
We’re mindful that some of our Relatives might be shielding themselves or find it difficult to visit their loved one in person for a number of possible reasons; in these cases we can arrange for a virtual visit by Zoom, or telephone calls if video calls are not suitable.

We've developed the following guidance for all Relatives to help them in visiting safely and responsibly and will update this as soon as we can take the next steps:

Visiting Guide for Relatives - England
Visiting Guide for Relatives - Scotland
Visting Guide for Relatives - Wales