Suffolk Lodge 2021 Meeting the coronavirus challenge
19 January 2021
Infection prevention and control in everything we do
During the course of the pandemic the team adopted a number of approaches:
- The team invited an Infection Prevention Control audit, organised through the Care Home Support Team. This highlighted good practice and offered assurance of compliance.
- A sterile PPE station is situated outside the door to each unit, to reduce footfall through the home.
- Clear signage throughout the building, including social distancing prompts, and notices on the bedroom doors of people isolating.
- Created a ‘dirty room’ to store all laundry for 72
- hours before washing. The housekeeper ensures all clean laundry has left the laundry room before bringing in any soiled or dirty laundry.
- All staff arrive on shift with their uniform in a clean pillowcase and leave shift with their worn uniform in a red bag.
- Cleaning has increased in all areas. A dedicated staff member ensures that all handrails, door handles and light switches are cleaned, every four to six hours. In addition to this, all staff are on a cleaning rota.
“We already had a really robust policy and procedure in place for Infection Control, and staff are experienced at adhering to this. During the pandemic, we have been extra vigilant and have tightened up our practice further. The small things make a difference, like avoiding unnecessary touching of surfaces or leaning against walls.”
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
We’ve moved to fluid repellent masks, the guidance hasn’t changed, but we have taken the stance of added protection due to heightened risk.
We listened to staff about what would make them feel safer and now supply staff with fluid-resistant disposable gowns for all personal care tasks, this is over and above what is required in guidance but offers staff and customers added reassurance.
All staff are tested three times a week. Twice a week using the lateral flow tests (instant tests) and once a week using the polymerase chain reaction test (PCR tests). All residents are tested every 28 days with the PCR tests.
Over the summer, as lockdown restrictions eased, family visits were permitted in the garden. They were limited to half-hour, and guests were not allowed access inside the home.
During this lockdown, the service has invested in iPads and residents have been keeping in touch with family members over Facetime.
Residents are currently staying on units, rather than freely moving around the home as they would usually. As they are unable to enjoy the communal spaces, staff are offering socially distanced activities in the units.
One way in which residents have been encouraged to keep mobile is through seated exercise.
Keeping the virus contained
All individuals are tested upon hospital discharge and then quarantine for 14 days on arrival at Suffolk Lodge.
If a resident displays symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 they are immediately isolated. Each staff member is allocated 2 residents to ensure they are adequately supported, while remaining in their rooms. The staff member is responsible for tending to their needs and keeping them company.
When Covid is present in a unit, extra precautions are taken. For example, nothing leaves the unit, be it rubbish or laundry, without being double-bagged using a fresh bag from off the unit.
“The Hospital Discharge process is much improved and we are well supported by the Council’s Covid Taskforce. The Taskforce helps coordinate discharges and ensures good and timely communication.”
Where possible staff are allocated to a single unit, this has always been the case as it is best for supporting people living with dementia but is also important in the context of bubbles.
If a staff member tests positive, it can be a challenge to arrange cover at short notice. The rota is re-jigged to ensure the right skill mix and level of experience is available on each unit.
Agency use has been inevitable during the pandemic, but we have used consistent agency staff where possible, they’ve become an extension of our team over recent months. Agency staff have been subject to the same testing and safety precautions as Optalis employees.
“My top tip would be - don’t assume anything and don’t take any short cuts”
“We are doing what we can to keep spirits up. Humour has helped to get us through the tough times. We joke about who clocks up the most steps over the course of a shift, it’s become a bit of a competition between us.”
Regular briefings are given to staff to ensure they have up to date information on guidance and best practice.
“We make a point of taking time out of our busy schedules to check in with each other and talk.”
“The team has really pulled together, and no matter your role we have all pitched in with the tasks that need doing.”
Staff continue to be onboarded using the service induction, with a very strong emphasis on infection control.
Opportunities to attend corporate classroom training have been limited. In place of this Wendy has delivered in house training on topics such as donning and doffing PPE. The team are accessing some specialist online training offered via NHS, in addition to Optalis e-learning training offer.
“The support provided by Optalis and Wokingham Borough Council has been invaluable. They have been there for us, every step of the way. A special mention must be given to the Rapid Response Assessment Team. The advanced nurse practitioners have been there to provide the care and medical intervention we have needed, to help keep people at home and out of the hospital.”
Preparing for the coming months
“We are fortunate to have lots of outdoor space. We started the pandemic in the garden and hope to move back out into the garden as soon as the spring breaks. We have invested in garden furniture, bought some small paddling pools and built a garden bar. We are looking forward to getting back outdoors, to enjoy the fresh air and change of scenery. We hope to get our gardening club up and running again. The residents were starting to enjoy growing veg that our fabulous chef used to turn into tasty meals.”
Optalis Services in Lockdown Three
At Optalis all of our services will still operate as they have been throughout the pandemic.