The below thoughts were shared with My Home Life England by a group of care home managers in Essex. They shared tips for how they themselves and other managers could support their teams to welcome nominated visitors back into the care home, ensure safety and also look to the future.
These are their thoughts:
Prior to the visit
- Go slowly so you have time to absorb the guidance and prepare your staff
- Phone up relatives to understand how they feel about the visits and who might be wanting to visit
- Ask your staff how they are feeling. Are there any anxieties? How can you help support your staff to make decisions which might require a certain amount of confidence?
During the visit
- Have a brief meeting with your staff at beginning of the shift to let them know about any new updates in processes and guidance
- Create a statement that can be shared with families on their arrival to welcome and support them. This will ensure everyone is aware of all the guidance and expectations and it can help your staff to feel more confident too
“Dear Families, We are so pleased that we can now have nominated visitors and welcome you back. We have missed you and we know how much you have missed being here. Our team have been asked to politely remind you to remember the visiting guidance and infection control measures. It’s so important that we act safety, particularly given the sacrifices made so far. Please bear with us… we know it’s not easy to remain distant from those that we love, but we hope that respecting these restrictions will help us get back to normal as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding.”
- Give time for families to express their emotions. These may include guilt, upset and anger. These emotions may be strong but try not to take it on yourself
- Hold in the front of your mind the sacrifices that you and your team have made to keep your home safe. This can give you courage if you need to make difficult decisions about safety. If you feel it may be necessary to remind any families of any parts of the guidance, it may help to allocate the job of supervising contact to more confident members of staff
- Build on the things that have worked during the pandemic:
- Keep the phonecalls and Zoom meetings going – Could these be used for relatives’ meetings or perhaps create an option to join in person meetings virtually?
- Consider developing a ‘Friends of X Care Home’ meeting for relatives which focus on how relatives can support your home
- Work with families to co-create an event in the early summer when together you can mark the past, reflect and plan together for the future
- If necessary, work to reset any relationships you have with families that may have changed so that they become part of your team again