Sunrise Senior Living UK and Gracewell Healthcare have launched an “Emergence Plan” to guide the care home providers through the easing of social distancing measures over the coming months.
The launch of the Plan, which comes as government restrictions on care home visits are partially eased, hopes to address residents and families’ anxieties and expectations as the sector begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Plan details how Sunrise and Gracewell’s care homes will support their residents to improve clinical indicators, such as mood, appetite and mobility, which may have deteriorated since the start of the pandemic. The protocol will also help to prepare residents to see their loved ones again by encouraging those residents who have lost confidence in social situations to partner with fellow residents and take part in group activities.
Team members are also being asked to inform family members whose loved one’s cognitive abilities have declined over the last year and to have honest conversations about this in advance of their visit. It is hoped that this will help to prepare family members and minimise any distress caused by this decline.
The Plan also invites team members to ask residents about their hopes and concerns about changes to social distancing restrictions and to provide the necessary reassurance about reconnecting with others.
Sunrise and Gracewell are also implementing a roadmap to guide the reintroduction of events and excursions at their care homes as restrictions ease. These will start with smaller activities, such as local walks and minibus trips, but are expected to encompass more sociable events, including entertainers from outside the care homes, once it is safe to do so.
Speaking of the Emergence Plan, Anna Selby, who spearheaded the protocol in her role as Head of Sunrise and Gracewell’s COVID-19 Taskforce, said:
“Every step of the pandemic the different lockdown periods have taken a period of adjustment… every time it’s been a rollercoaster, but not necessarily for our residents – for them it’s been quite continuous, and how difficult is it going to be to make that adjustment?
Anna Selby added that some residents may find it very difficult to share their anxieties for fear of upsetting relatives who are desperate to see them. She said:
“When people have visits in the visiting room, and a family can come, some people find it quite overwhelming because they’re so used to that smaller contact.”
“We need to start off with that meaningful conversation, not necessarily a clinical conversation, just ‘How are you feeling? What are you looking forward to? What does it mean to you?’, and test it out.
“And it may be that ‘I’m really looking forward to it and I’m fine, and I can’t wait and I’m going to start preparing and start ordering new clothes’, but other people might feel ‘Actually, I’m really overwhelmed’.”