Hillside Care Home – Update on Coronavirus Pandemic

Dear ‘Family & Friends of Hillside Care Home’

In this update I’d like to make you aware of what we, as a team, at Hillside are doing in respect to the Coronavirus Pandemic that is engulfing the world and how this impacts upon your loved one who lives at Hillside.

As you are probably aware, this ghastly virus seems to have the most severe impact upon individuals who are older and who typically have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. For example, it has thus far had a death rate in the over 80’s of 7.2% in South Korea & 14.8% in China (ref’ South Korean Centre for Disease Control & Prevention). Unfortunately, this means that your loved one who lives at Hillside and older people in general, like my own parents and in-laws, are deemed to be in the highest risk category.

At this stage no one actually knows exactly how this new disease will spread; how long we all have to endure it for; or how long it will pose to be an extremely high risk to residents.

My own view is that this will be a marathon rather than a sprint. If the containment and delay strategies work successfully and if a vaccine does become available in the medium term next year then, as a society, the levels of infection can be minimised. However, in all likelihood there will be several significant waves of infection that we will all have to contend with and endure during this rather lengthy intervening time. In my view, I would not be surprised if we are still managing issues this time next year (… but I really don’t pretend to know!).

The best way we can protect our residents is to minimise the risk of the virus entering Hillside. We can reduce this risk by:

  1. Adopting a rigorous approach to handwashing and hygiene control
  2. Ensuring that ill! work and personal mobile phones are fully sterilised by UV Light – otherwise your clean hands are simply re-infected with all of the pathogens that exist on your mobile phone screen (… and we’ve just procured a number of UV Phone Sterilising devices called ‘Phone Soap’ from the Netherlands to achieve this incidentally).

We have always prided ourselves at Hillside on being an open, welcoming and inclusive part of the community, encouraging visits, entertainers and such in order to make the home feel like a home and to help individuals feel part of the community. However, under the Coronavirus environment, this approach increases the risk that someone could bring the virus into the home. To reduce this risk and keep residents safe we have therefore been reducing the number of ‘visitors’:

  • Stopping any visits from individuals who have been to higher risk countries in the past 14 days
  • Stopping visits from any individuals who are showing any symptoms such as a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath
  • Reducing the number of individuals entering the home per se, for example: stopping delivery drivers entering the building; stopping entertainers; cancelling the aroma therapist and hairdresser; stopping all but essential routine maintenance from 3rd parties
  • No longer having trips to outside centres and instead possibly having trips to natural areas or along the Gower.

Stopping non-essential visits
As individuals, we can still be contagious carriers of the disease even if we are symptom free and so the only way to minimise that risk is to minimise the number of people entering the home.
Unfortunately, the Management Team (i.e. Margaret, Sue, Lissy and I) now believe that we have all too rapidly reached the stage where we now need to curtail all but essential family and friend visits into the home as well, again in order to further protect residents. This is such an awful decision to make and I’m really sorry for the impact that it will have on many of you and your loved ones.

We will therefore introduce an initial period of ‘lock down’ for one month from Monday 16th March through to the 16th April 2020. All but essential family and friend visits into the home should be stopped and any essential family visits need to be agreed with Margaret Woodcock beforehand.
Clearly, it is a free country and residents with capacity are free to leave the home as and when they wish. However, I would encourage you to think carefully about the risk that you may be bringing to both your loved one, and indirectly, to the other residents who live at Hillside should you decide to take residents out on visits.

Around the 12th April we will formally review the situation, review all advice from the various Public Health authorities and confirm whether we need to extend the period or not. I’m also following this same approach personally; whereby I will no longer be visiting my elderly parents (my visit to them cannot really be deemed to be essential}.

We clearly can’t stop everyone from entering the home as the staff team themselves have to still provide the love, care and support that our residents need. There will therefore continue to be a risk that a member of the team itself could still inadvertently carry the virus into the home.
However, we can minimise that risk by:

  • Taking the temperatures of each staff member before they start their shift
  • Confirming that each staff member is symptom free before each shift
  • Confirming that each staff member’s own family, partners or individuals whom they live with are not showing any signs of symptoms.

The ‘lockdown’ therefore reduces the risk significantly but does not eliminate it.

We’ve also sent a copy of this letter via e-mail to many of you as well as that is a quicker way of communicating. If you’ve not received a copy electronically and you wish us to also communicate with you electronically in future then please forward your e-mail address to
kath.evans@jupitercare.com and she will update our systems accordingly. I have also put a copy of this letter onto our website and I intend to provide further updates to families as the progress of this pandemic unfolds.

Please do not hesitate to call Margaret (the home’s Manager), Sue or Lissy (the home’s two Deputies) or myself if you have any questions or concerns about any of the above.

I wish you and your family a safe journey through this crisis and I thank you for your continued support and understanding at this difficult time.

Yours truly
Gareth Bamsey