We hope you are safe and well and adjusting to these extraordinary times.

We thought we would start to share with you our thoughts on the process of reopening St Omer to both Relatives and new Residents. We’re not going to call this ‘The New Normal’ because we hope that this is just a transitory phase before a return to something that looks far more like the way things were back in ‘The Good Old Days’ (or February 2020 if you prefer).

It goes without saying that all our plans are best intentions at this stage, but are guided by our intention to keep both our Residents and Staff as safe as the current situation allows, and minimise all unnecessary risks to both groups.

Clearly the first question in resuming relative visits will be when? Currently the Rate of Infection (the R rate) in Care Homes both nationally and locally is still increasing, and we will not contemplate opening St Omer to anyone until this current spike has not only levelled out but has significantly reduced. So far, the R rate for Care Homes has not been separately reported so we are working on information provided to us by the Care Trust, with whom we speak daily. When we hear the consistent clear evidence that the R rate has fallen in Care Homes locally then we will start to implement our plans.

Visiting

Let’s start with visits from relatives.

Initially we will allow one relative within St Omer at one time, so we will need to implement a system of booking visits. Each visit will last no longer than fifteen minutes (to allow for as many Residents’ relatives as possible during the day, and for subsequent disinfection between visits). Every relative will be accompanied from the front door to their relative’s room by a member of staff (to minimise contact with other Residents) and back to the front door at the end of the visit. All relatives will be required to comply with the social distancing requirements in place at that time (currently 2 metres).

There are some caveats to this plan. Firstly, EVERY visitor MUST wear a mask and disposable gloves whilst in St Omer. Secondly we might stop visits without notice if we have any form of outbreak within St Omer (not only COVID-19) or if we hear that the Rate of Infection locally or nationally has risen again (and this is considered quite possible according to current experience in other parts of the world).

We appreciate that this is very far from perfect from everyone’s perspective but given that we closed to visitors early in this pandemic, we are going to take a cautious and measured approach; the alternative does not bear thinking about.

Admissions

Now let’s turn to new Admissions.

We currently have four empty rooms and we must plan to accept new admissions to assure the financial future of St Omer for both Residents and Staff.

We have identified an area of St Omer that we can safely use as an isolation area for any new Residents until such time that we are satisfied that they present no additional risk to our existing Residents and Staff. That area is rooms 21 to 23 on the first floor.

Two Residents have been temporarily moved to other rooms to enable this to happen, and we are grateful to their families for the understanding that they have shown. It is our intention that these Residents will return to their original rooms when circumstances allow.

We will be performing some essential redecoration in this area prior to any admissions, and we will be erecting a barrier and signage to stop accidental incursions into this area.

We will perform an even more detailed Health Assessment of any new Resident. WE WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY POTENTIAL RESIDENT WITH AN ACTIVE DIAGNOSIS OF COVID-19. Any potential Resident who has recovered from COVID-19 will need to have two COVID-19 free tests before we will consider them.

The new Resident will be required to remain isolated in their own room for a period of fourteen days after admission before being allowed to associate with other Residents. These Residents will receive no visitors other than essential healthcare professionals.

We do appreciate that you may have questions about the above. You will also appreciate that we have never been in this situation before and we do not claim any more expertise or knowledge than anyone else, so we might need to change or modify our plans as we better understand a constantly changing and developing situation.

If you do have any questions please feel free to call me (Ian) on 07952 476 893 or email me at ianday@st-omer.org and I will do my best to answer your questions or address your concerns.

Lastly can we remind you that we are keeping a blog at www.st-omer.org and we will publish any urgent news there, so please do take a look periodically.

Hoping you all stay safe and well.

JO & IAN DAY