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Care home visit

Care home visits: public forum

At our previous forums we have heard how visiting restrictions in care homes have affected people living there and their relatives. We have also heard about other ways people have been keeping in touch during Covid-19 and experiences of the changes to allow one or two designated visitors for in-person visits. We have also heard from representatives at Public Health and Northumberland County Council on the visiting guidance for care homes.

At our next forum on Friday 4 June at 10.30am we’d like to hear about your experiences now we are two months into the changes in visiting policy. We would also like to hear your feedback on preparing for you and your loved ones to have visits outside of the care home.

We will also be sharing the results of our recent online surveys for care home staff and relatives/friends of those living in care homes and looking at the next steps for this feedback moving forward.

If you would like to register for the event please contact Helen Brown at: helenb@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or call us on 03332 408468.

If you cannot come along but have a question you would like an answer to, send it to us and we will ask it for you.

More on care home visiting guidance

care home visits Northumberland

Visits out of care homes

The latest guidance on care home visiting applies from 12 April. On visits out of care homes the government says:

Spending time out of the care home has always been an important part of life for many people living in residential care. This might include visits with friends and family to outdoor spaces and leisure venues, or to celebrate special occasions.

For some residents, regular visits may be part of their care plan – accessing care and support in day services, participating in community groups and volunteering. For many residents of working age, this might include regular overnight visits to the family home.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that much of this visiting out of the care home has had to stop.

As part of the roadmap out of lockdown – guided by the data – we want to enable care home residents to enjoy a range of trips out of the care home, wherever it is safe and proportionate to do so.

We recognise how important this is for residents’ health and wellbeing, their ability to remain at the heart of family and social networks; and in some cases to deliver the objectives of their care plan.

However, spending time with others outside the care home will increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for the resident and potentially to other vulnerable residents on their return. This is the case even as we see community infection rates dropping and vaccine coverage increasing.

Whereas it is possible to mitigate and manage infection risks within the controlled environment of the care home – including by testing anyone coming into the home – it is simply not possible to control the environment outside of the care home in the same way.

This means that there is still the need for some measures to manage the risk of residents returning from visits bringing infection into the care home environment.

This guidance sets out the approach that care homes should take to planning and supporting visits out of the home where residents wish to make them. It explains the measures that should be taken – by the home, the resident and others taking part in the visit – to manage the risks.

The most significant of these is the requirement that a resident making a visit out of the care home should isolate for 14 days on their return (the day of return is day zero). This is to ensure that – in the event they have unknowingly become infected while out of the home – they minimise the chances of passing that infection on to other residents and staff.

We recognise that in practice, this is likely to mean that many residents will not wish to make a visit out of the home.

Read the full guidance on visits out of care homes

Visit our Covid-19 Information Page

Care Home Visits: Public Forum

At our online forums recently we have heard how visiting restrictions in care homes have affected people living there and their relatives. We have also heard about people’s experiences of other ways of keeping in touch during Covid-19. From 8 March those who live in care homes will be able to receive one regular designated visitor.  We want to hear from you about your experience of this change, and what would help as restrictions are gradually eased.

We are holding another online forum on 31 March from 2.00 – 3.30pm where Dr Jim Brown, Consultant in Public Health at Northumberland County Council and Alan Curry, Senior Manager – Commissioning Northumberland County Council, will be there to answer your questions on the visiting guidance for care homes from a public health and county council perspective and what we may expect for care home visits in Northumberland as we move on from Covid-19.

If you would like to register for a space please contact helenb@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or call us on 03332 408468.

If you cannot come along but have a question you would like an answer to, send it to us and we will ask it for you.

You can also tell us about how you’ve kept in touch with relatives in care homes here

 

 

More on care home visits guidance as of 8 March

Care Home visits Northumberland

Guidance on Care Home Visits

Can I visit someone in a care home?

All care home residents can nominate a single named visitor for indoor visiting. These visits will be supported by providing visitors with rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests on every visit and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Those with highest care needs can also nominate an ‘essential family carer’. With the agreement of the care home, these visitors will have access to the same testing and PPE as care home staff, so they can provide support with washing and dressing or eating well.

For those not nominated as single named visitors, visits can still be arranged outdoors, in visiting ‘pods’, behind windows, or behind substantial screens.

It is recommended that care homes operate a simple booking or appointments system to enable visits.

In the event of outbreaks, care homes should immediately stop visiting (except in exceptional circumstances, such as end of life) to protect vulnerable residents, staff and visitors.

Vaccination is not mandatory and is not a condition of visiting.

 

How do I find out the visiting policy of a care home?

Each home is unique, so providers will design their own visiting arrangements that take into account the needs of their residents and what is possible within the layout and facilities of that home.

In producing these policies, providers should work collaboratively with residents, families and local social care and health professionals to strike a good balance between the risks and benefits of visiting.

Visiting policies should be made available and/or communicated to residents and families.

 

Do I need to take a test to be able to visit my relative?

If you are visiting a care home resident as a named visitor, you will be required to take a rapid LFD test and test negative before every visit. If visitors test positive, they must immediately return home, self-isolate and complete a further test which will be provided to them by the care home. The care home provider should provide full details on their testing process and obtain consent from visitors prior to their participation in testing. If you have arranged with your local care home to be a resident’s ‘essential care giver’, you will be supported to follow the same testing arrangements in place for care home staff. Those visiting loved ones indoors at the end of their lives may be offered a test on arrival for their visit, but those visiting residents outdoors will not require a test. However, if visitors are displaying any symptoms of coronavirus, they should not visit the care home, self-isolate and order a test immediately.All visitors may be asked screening questions upon arrival. These may include:

  • Have you been feeling unwell recently?
  • Have you had recent onset of a new continuous cough?
  • Do you have a high temperature? A care home may consider providing a temperature check for all visitors to provide confidence to visitors and to staff.
  • Have you noticed a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell?
  • Have you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days?
  • Have you had recent contact (in the last 14 days) with anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or someone with confirmed COVID-19 – if yes, should you be self-isolating as a family member or as a contact advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace?
  • Have you returned from an overseas visit recently and are you still in the quarantine period?

 

What is likely to change when I visit my loved one?

Indoor visits may take place in designated visiting rooms, but in all cases, they should take place in a well-ventilated room. Those visiting indoors must observe strict social distancing from other residents, visitors and staff at all times, and follow care home policies in place for testing and use of appropriate PPE. There may be some instances where visits are supervised, for example during a visitor’s first visit. This should be clearly explained in the care home’s visiting policy.Any additional visits should take place where possible outside. Other appropriate visits include:

  • Visits under a cover such as an awning, gazebo or open-sided marquee, where residents and visitors remain at least 2 metres apart.
  • Visits in temporary outdoor structures, such as COVID-secure visiting areas/pods which are enclosed to some degree but are still outside the main building of the home. These areas can only allow one visiting party at a time, will require good ventilation and screens between residents and visitors.
  • Visits in a dedicated room such as a conservatory, which can be accessed from outside of the home. These areas can only allow one visiting party at a time, will require good ventilation and screens between residents and visitors.
  • Visits at a window.

 

What should I do to keep the person I am visiting safe?

Named visitors should be tested using rapid LFD tests before every visit, must wear the appropriate PPE, and follow all other infection control measures. The care home will guide visitors on infection control measures.Visitors and residents may wish to hold hands but are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum as any contact increases the risk of transmission.Visitors should also be careful to ensure they observe strict social distancing from other residents, visitors and staff at all times.

 

How often can I visit a care home?

Care homes will decide how often and for how long it is possible for named visitors to come into the home. This is likely to be depend on practical considerations, such as the layout of the home and the numbers of residents and families who may wish to have visits. In practice this may mean that the frequency of visits is limited, however, local Directors of Public Health may provide advice to homes allowing more regular visiting if they are confident that infection control measures and other arrangements are in place.For outdoor visits, the guidance recommends a maximum of two visitors at any one time.This is in order to limit the overall numbers of visitors to the care home and the consequent risk of disease transmission.

 

What happens if there is an outbreak at the care home?

If there is a declared outbreak in a care home, then it is recommended that visiting be restricted, with only ‘end of life’ visits recommended. These restrictions will continue until the care home has been assessed to be in recovery. You should be informed of this.

 

What happens if I can’t see my family or friend in the care home?

If providers are unable to safely allow visits in line with new guidance, alternative ways of communicating between residents and their families and friends should be discussed and offered. The care home should also provide regular updates to residents’ loved ones on their mental and physical health, how they are coping and identify any additional ways they might be better supported, including any cultural or religious needs.

 

Can a care home resident come and visit me out of the care home?

Current guide states that care homes should support visits out of homes in exceptional circumstances, such as to visit to a friend or relative at the end of their life. These visits can only happen in agreement with the home and will be subject to individual and whole home risk assessments.

 

The guidance for visits out of homes will be updated shortly.

 

Tell us your experience of care home visits

Care Homes – keeping in touch with loved ones

Care home lockdown: how are you keeping in touch with your loved one?

As we enter a further period where visiting relatives in care homes is restricted, we want to hear how this is affecting you and your loved ones. What information have you had about keeping in touch and maintaining communications about care and wellbeing?

We are particularly keen to hear if you managed to be tested and have an ‘in person’ visit during December.

We would like to know your experience of:

  • Using video calls (FaceTime, Zoom etc.) or telephone calls – does the home support these? How many times a week and how long? Does a member of staff help your loved one with the call?
  • Socially distanced visits – does the home support ‘window’ visits.  How many times a week and how for long?
  • How does the home keep you informed about how your loved one is getting on (apart from necessary issues about their care or health), for example, manager updates, photographs, videos
  • Does the home have a programme of group and one-to-one activities? Has your loved one taken part?
  • Has the home asked you what, within the current restrictions, would make this time easier?
  • What, within the current restrictions, would make it better for you and your love one?
  • When restrictions are eventually eased (not totally lifted) what would help you and your loved one?

You can tell us your experiences at one of the ways here on our contact page, text us on 07413 385275 to make an appointment to speak to one of our team, or come along to our public online forum around these issues on Wednesday 27 January, 1.00pm – 2.00pm.

If you would like to take part in the forum please contact Laura Haugh: laurah@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk, or call 03332 408468.

Care Homes – keeping in touch with loved ones

Care home lockdown: how are you keeping in touch with your loved one?

People are telling us they are worried about care homes continuing to be closed to nearly all visits.

They understand it is safer for residents and staff and the extra efforts made to maintain the quality of life in the homes, but after six months, people say they can see the effect on their loved ones, and their own, health and wellbeing.

It seems the situation may go on for some time yet.

Sharing good practice could help make this difficult time a bit better. If your relative, loved one or friend lives in a care home we would like to know what is being done to keep you in touch day to day and on special occasions like birthdays.

We would like to know your experience of:

  • Using video calls (FaceTime, Zoom etc.) or telephone calls – does the home support these? How many times a week and how long? Does a member of staff help your loved one with the call?
  • Socially distanced visits – does the home support ‘window’ visits.  How many times a week and how for long?
  • How does the home keep you informed about how your loved one is getting on (apart from necessary issues about their care or health), for example, manager updates, photographs, videos
  • Does the home have a programme of group and one-to-one activities? Has your loved one taken part?
  • Has the home asked you what, within the current restrictions, would make this time easier?
  • What, within the current restrictions, would make it better for you and your love one?
  • When restrictions are eventually eased (not totally lifted) what would help you and your loved one?

You can tell us your experiences at one of the ways here on our contact page, text us  on 07413 385275 to make an appointment to speak to one of our team, or come along to our public online forum  around these issues on Wednesday 11 November, 2.00pm – 3.00pm.

 

Oral Care in Care Homes

This week Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its latest report on oral care health in care homes.

Their findings reflect what people have been telling Healthwatch nationally, including the problems people face in accessing dentists.

Key findings from CQC

  • People who live in care homes do not always get the support they need to maintain good oral health.
  • 52% of care homes have no policy in place to support resident’s oral health. This could mean care home staff are not aware of the need to support people with daily mouth care, like brushing their teeth.
  • Many residents are not able to access oral health products like toothbrushes as care homes would not provide them, as they are seen as a cosmetic product, not a health care one.
  • One third of care homes said they had had difficulty accessing routine NHS dentistry services. Some managers reported that domiciliary dentists refused to visit care homes.

In response to the publication of the report, Healthwatch England Chair, Sir Robert Francis QC, said:

“Healthwatch has investigated the lack of oral healthcare in care homes for a number of years, and it is encouraging that this issue is now being addressed. Daily oral health support, which includes simple things like the daily brushing of teeth, is important to maintaining people’s overall health and it needs to be taken seriously.

“I am pleased that we have been able to work with the CQC to raise the profile of this issue and it is encouraging to see that practices are beginning to change. We want people to have the confidence to know that if they speak up to Healthwatch, action will be taken.

“What we learnt from this report is that we must improve oral healthcare training for care workers. It can make a big difference to the health and wellbeing of people living in care homes when care workers have a better understanding of what is good practice in oral healthcare and how they can support people to maintain good oral health.

“This report makes it clear that this issue is about more than just about access to dentists in care homes. The lack of availability of dentists is an growing issue that needs immediate attention. There is an increasing number of people who struggle to access high street dentists, and we urgently need to look at how we can successfully address this issue.”

Emergency Ambulance

Ambulance Services to Care Homes in Northumberland

Across its operational area in 2015/16 North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) attended 14,484 emergency incidents with the location flagged as being a care home.  During the first six months of the year, there was an average of 38 incidents per day, rising to an average of 41 per day in the latter half of the year. There were 30 care homes that NEAS were called upon to attend on 90 or more occasions in 2015/16.  Of those, ten accounted for over 9% of the total care home activity that year. One care home in Northumberland made this list.

While this showed that Northumberland based care homes made only a small call on NEAS emergency services, from feedback we understood that some care homes were concerned about the length of time they have had to wait for an emergency ambulance to attend for their residents.

Between September 2016 and January 2017, Healthwatch Northumberland took a closer look at the issue. We specifically wanted to know the extent of the issues and understand what the ramifications could be for residents and the operation of the care homes.

Read the full report.

AGM: Questions and Answers

The Healthwatch Northumberland AGM took place in October at Stannington Village Hall. At the end of the meeting the panel took some pre-submitted questions from the attendees.

Panel members:

Ray Burns – Operations Manager (North East Ambulance Service)

John Young -Head of Service, Care Management (Northumbria Healthcare)

Jane Weatherstone –Associate Medical Director (Northumbria Healthcare)

Caroline McGarry –Patient & Public Involvement Co-ordinator (Newcastle Hospitals)

Sally Ridley –Corporate Matron (Newcastle Hospitals)

John Lawlor –Chief Executive (Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust)

Julie Ross –Chief Operating Officer (Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group)

Ann Marshall- Acting Group Nurse Director for Community Services (NTW)

Liz Prudhoe –Strategic Lead (Healthwatch Northumberland/Adapt North East)

Cynthia Atkin –Chair (Healthwatch Northumberland)

 

Q1: What are the CCG’s intentions regarding the commissioning of couples therapy for depression counselling within IAPT?

A: Julie Ross: The CCG has a contract with Talking Matters Northumberland dedicated to couples therapies.

A: John Lawlor: Complex needs are signposted to Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust.

 

Q2: With the Government only providing the Tees area a proportion of the monies from the Mental Health Fund, will it have a detrimental effect on NTW’s operational strategy within Northumberland?

A: John Lawlor: The NHS has been receiving the lowest increase in resources. The concern is how do we make sure we don’t go backwards on mental health and learning disabilities services. The big challenge is to continue what we do, making sure it’s within the resources.

 

Q3: A series of recent sector training events have raised awareness of the needs of people living with Parkinson’s Disease, what are the CCG/NHCT future plans to support the quality of life needs of carers and affected loved ones coping in their own homes and to raise their profile and public awareness to the same level as that of dementia?

A: Jane Weatherstone: As a health body the CCG and Northumbria don’t have a plan for Parkinson’s disease. We know that Parkinson’s disease is becoming more prevalent due to an aging population. What that pathway would look like we will put into educational events for GPs. We work with our nurses to keep them up skilled and to help people in their own homes to keep them independent. There are no great plans for Parkinson’s disease as such.

Question from the floor: Why can’t they bring the community surgeries back to the communities, to aim to make GP practices a hub. From speaking to other people it has been found that sometimes whenpeople go onto websites the information is out of date.

Helen Williams (Alzheimer’s Society) and Hanna Whincup (Ageing Well) have provided excellent support, it’s really important that the voluntary sector is part of that model for the hubs

A: Julie Ross: The ACO strategy create hubs where community services can work together i.e . mental health, physical care professionals. It’s about getting them together to see the whole picture as one.

A: John Lawlor: At Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust we provide much more specialist services. We have a number of locations of where our staff are based and the large majority of interactions happen in people’s houses. We have found it to be very effective working with third sector organisations. It’s hard to stretch our resources across Northumberland.

 

Q4: Can you share some thoughts on the best community based models that would fit Northumberland for supporting people with mental health issues out in the community to regain skills, reduce isolation and build confidence and self-esteem? What support and input are NTW offering in terms of the establishment of Recovery Colleges across the whole of Northumberland?

A: Ann Marshall: Across all our localities our ideas are growing. Recovery colleges are a model about helping people to manage their own strengths. This is a very new way of working for us and there are challenging times for us around resources.

How do we provide a service for people who come together to share their experiences? We are really grateful of the work that has been done with Healthwatch Northumberland. We offer our expertise and knowledge of highly skilled clinicians to work with the wider community and providing access to facilities. Joint work is still ongoing with a single point of access and bringing together nurses and other types of nursing which is still in discussions.

 

Q5: How can better communications improve cancer services locally?

A: Julie Ross: Newcastle is our main provider of cancer services. The role of the voluntarysector is something we know we need to maximise on and making sure of patient input is key. Within the ACO it is getting a central computerised system as it’s also about us joining up.

A: Jane Weatherstone:It’s about the pathways everyone needs to have input as to what a pathway could and should look like. What comes up is x- results are not being read in a timely way. The clinical policy group is where all of the heads of services come together, to have systems in place that work, making sure there are lots of safety nets and pathways in place in the first place.

A: Sally Ridley: In urology we are working really hard to work through that pathway. Joint working in partnership about making a seamless transition i.e. if an element of care is in one Trust and another is in another Trust, it isimportant we work in partnership with Northumberland.

 

Q6: What does the future hold for Healthwatch Northumberland?

A: Cynthia Atkin: Healthwatch Northumberland is currently is a statutory function funded by a local authority. The contract ends in March 2017, however it will be going out to tender. The board members will be standing down.

 

Q7: There appears to be conflict when the Acute Trusts are being asked to increase their activity, yet the CCG’s don’t have funding to do this. How are you managing this as partners working together?

A: Julie Ross: The Acute Trusts see who turns up at their door; the more people they see the more they get paid. For Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust the more they see the less money they get. Now it’s looking at putting all the money into one pot and the ACO will have to move off payment by results. We are trying to work together; over the next six months, the ACO will balance the system.

Question from the floor: Shouldn’t there be a strategy on how that money is going to be spent?

A: Julie Ross: A clinical strategy is in place of what is going to be delivered and what the outcomes are.

Question from the floor: Where does health promotion come in on this?

A: Julie Ross: As of April next year we will be working with the Local Authority to invest in prevention and to reduce demand, looking at what can we do to stop people getting ill.

A: John Lawlor: From the North East Authority Health and Social Care Commission one of the pieces of work is to publish a health and wellbeing strategy. Looking atthe current health of Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and Durham and also looking at the health gap, the care gap and the financial gap.

Question from the floor: Many CCG’s are in deficit and have a recovery plan, what happens in the new financial year?

A: Julie Ross: How we manage the money going forward, our contracts exceed our income. It’s not sorted yet but we will have to create a financial fix.

 

Q8: Can you describe what happens when a patient is due to be discharged from a Newcastle hospital back home to Northumberland?

A: Caroline McGarry: Working closely with our discharge team, ward staff contact discharge nurses in the area. Initial assessment would go to a Northumberland social worker for the patient to get a short term care package. Long term they would be allocated to a care worker. We are working together to try to get the patient out of hospital safely and in the best way.

 

Q9: What targets are GP practices given, if any, to record patients as carers or recognise them as such. How many Carer Champions have been recruited by GP practices and is there any financial incentive to do so?

A: Julie Ross: 44 practices each have a carers champion within the practice who is a GP. On doctors desks there is a carers prescription pad for care and support. This is £6.75 per head which is monitored by audits, random checks and feedback.

A: Sally Ridley: Identifying and acknowledging carers i.e. ‘John’s campaign’ the care he received in hospital was very good but he was socially isolated because his carer couldn’t spend time with him. We recognised carers can be invaluable to us in supporting patients while in hospital. It’s very clear from some carers it is an opportunity to have respite also. Packs for carers and cards within the packs help carers to visit at different times. There are also meals for carers, it’s about choice and negotiation. Also within that to identify younger carers as well working with organisations for that.

Liz Prudhoe: At a Northumbria Healthcare listening event a carer mentioned that when visiting the Freeman Hospital they were given a carers pack and food menu.

 

Q10: What procedure is in place when integrating services between Newcastle and Northumberland?

A: John Young: Transfer from Newcastle to Northumberland we get a referral from a Newcastle Social worker we generally accept that referral. If someone needs residential care or social care or step down care we do that. A social worker couldn’t arrange that in Rothbury.

A: Julie Ross: They are costed very differently i.e. RVI is on a tariff basis and i.e. Rothbury is on a block contract.

Question from the floor: What about support to go home i.e. from an acute specialist setting?

A: John Young: A discharge nurse specialist looks at step down facilities and what’s right for the patient at that time.

Question from the floor: Will there be enough home care in place i.e. for Rothbury?

A: John Young: This would be subcontracted to another care agency directly.

 

Q11: How do you feel Healthwatch Northumberland could work more closely with Newcastle Hospitals to ensure patient’s voices are heard? After all we access the good quality services provided from Newcastle?

A: Caroline McGarry: We are keen to work closely with Healthwatch Northumberland and would be more than willing to meet up and discuss any feedback that you receive about the Trust.

Cynthia Atkin: Asked if Healthwatch Northumberland could be provided with the protocols in place on discharge.

 

Q12:Patients have said that palliative care or lack of it is a problem for Northumberland. What can we do to ensure we have palliative beds when required?

A: Jane Weatherstone: We are very proud of the palliative care we provide. In Northumberland it is a community based service. The service we provide endeavours we keep people where they want to be. We have a partnership with both Macmillan and Marie Curie. We know that people access beds for the last few days of their lives and we have services that provide carers with respite.

 

Q13: Patients with mental health problems are presenting themselves at hospitals via A&E. How do the trusts work together on ensuring good quality service for patients is in place and patients know where they go for help?

Example from the audience: A lady’s brother was suffering from psychotic episode and had to travel in an ambulance from one hospital to another, as his carer she was allowed to go with him and security people also went along in the ambulance to provide support. Having that support and familiarity helped her brother.

A: Anne Marsh: It is the people who have gone the extra mile to help with care. Recognising the value that someone who is familiar can help. It is the Triangle of Care between the carer, the professional and the patient with the partnerships and services in local communities to help people better understand. Patients have extended families and extended networks, we are signposting and working in collaboration with GPs.

Cynthia Atkin: The majority of feedback comments we get back from patients are compliments rather than complaints.

Q: What about travel needs in Northumberland – a friend who has cerebral palsy was taken in an ambulance from Hexham to Wansbeck A&E. It was then down to him to get himself back home. He is 80 years old and he did not have enough money on him for a taxi.

A: Jane Weatherstone: For Northumbria Trust we wouldn’t be able to get an ambulance at that time of night but we would endeavour to get that taxi service for him. We would like your friend to contact us at Northumbria Healthcare about this.

Q: What about access to GP surgeries?

A: Julie Ross: Surgeries are not bursting at the seams; there are no practices that are in breach. They are all open. GP surgeries access quite a lot of funding through the Vanguard programme. In Northumberland it will guarantee same day demand; this will then be spread out with GPs monitoring people who are coming back time and time again.

Liz Prudhoe: A lot of work has been done on access to GP surgeries and there is a report on the Healthwatch Northumberland website.

Q: There are some issues arising around Patient Transport.

A: Liz Prudhoe: It has been a continuing challenge in Northumberland, the decision for whether someone is eligible for Patient Transport is initially through a questionnaire by NEAS. Numbers going through on appeal are very high. We’re working with NEAS on this as well with Mark Johns and Mark Cotton.

Q: How does the ambulance service meet the needs of Mental Health patients?

A: John Lawlor: For those with physical health issues there are no problems. 97% of our patients are living in support in the community. For the 3 % who are not living in support in the community the ambulance service works pretty well in the time it takes to transfer patients; we work with the police, the street triage service and the community psychiatric nurses. In Cramlington for example, doctors and nurses are able to make assessments. The numbers involved are small.

A: Ray Burns: Work is done in collaboration with the North East Ambulance Service and Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust – these are really small numbers.

Events

Care home visit

Care home visiting Northumberland

At our previous online forums we have heard how visiting restrictions in care homes have affected people living there and their relatives. We have also heard about other ways people have been keeping in touch during Covid-19 and experiences of the changes to allow one or two designated visitors for in-person visits. We have also heard from representatives at Public Health and Northumberland County Council on the visiting guidance for care homes.

At our next forum on Friday 4 June at 10.30am we would like to hear from you about your experiences of visiting your loved ones in care homes now we are almost two months into the changes in visiting policy. We would also like to hear your experiences of the other ways you have been keeping in touch and any feedback you have on preparing for you and your loved ones to have visits outside of the care home.

We will also be sharing the results of our recent online surveys for care home staff and relatives/friends of those living in care homes and looking at the next steps for this feedback moving forward.

If you would like to register for the event please email Helen Brown at: helenb@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or call us on 03332 408468.

Government guidance on care home visits

Visit our Covid-19 Information Page

Care Home visiting Northumberland

Care Home visiting in Northumberland

At our online forums we have heard how visiting restrictions in care homes have affected people living there and their relatives. We have also heard about people’s experiences of other ways of keeping in touch during Covid-19. From 8 March those who live in care homes have been able to receive one regular designated visitor.  We want to hear from you about your experience of this change, and what would help as restrictions are gradually eased.

We are holding another online forum on 31 March at 2.00pm -3.30pm where Dr Jim Brown, Consultant in Public Health at Northumberland County Council and Alan Curry, Senior Manager – Commissioning Northumberland County Council, will be there to answer your questions on the visiting guidance for care homes from a public health and county council perspective and what we may expect for care home visits in Northumberland as we move on from Covid-19.

If you would like to register for a space please contact helenb@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or call us on 03332 408468.

If you cannot come along but have a question you would like an answer to, send it to us and we will ask it for you.

If you are a relative or friend of someone in a care home in Northumberland we would love to hear more on your thoughts about keeping in touch with loved ones and activities within the home, particularly post Covid-19 as restrictions start to ease. With this feedback we hope to find practical recommendations that will improve the experience for people living in care homes and their loved ones in the future. We would really appreciate your feedback by completing the survey below.

Care homes survey

Government guidance on care home visits

Visit our Covid-19 Information Page

Care homes – keeping in touch with loved ones (online forum)

As we enter a further period where visiting relatives in care homes is restricted, we want to hear how this is affecting you and your loved ones. What information have you had about keeping in touch and maintaining communications about care and wellbeing?

We are particularly keen to hear if you managed to be tested and have an ‘in person’ visit during December.

We would like to know your experience of:

  • Using video calls (FaceTime, Zoom etc) or telephone calls. Does the home support these?  How many times a week and how long?  Does a member of staff help your loved one with the call?
  • Socially distanced visits. Does the home support ‘window’ visits.  How many times a week and how long?
  • How does the home keep you informed about how your loved one is getting on (apart from necessary issues about their care or health). Eg manager updates, photographs, videos
  • Does the home have a programme of group and 1 to 1 activities? Has your loved one taken part?
  • Has the home asked you what, within the current restrictions, would make this time easier?
  • What, within the current restrictions, would make it better for you and your love one?
  • When restrictions are eventually eased (not totally lifted) what would help you and your loved one?

The forum will take place via Zoom. Read our guide on how to use Zoom.

If you would like to take part please contact Laura Haugh: laurah@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk, or call 03332 408468.

If you can’t make the forum and would like to tell us your story, or would rather speak to one of our team in confidence please get in touch.

 

Care Homes – keeping in touch with loved ones

People are telling us they are worried about care homes continuing to be closed to nearly all visits.

They understand it is safer for residents and staff and the extra efforts made to maintain the quality of life in the homes.   But after 6 months, people say they can see the effect on their loved ones, and their own, health and wellbeing.

It seems the situation may go on for some time yet.

Sharing good practice could help make this difficult time a bit better.   If your relative, loved one or friend lives in a care home we would like to know what is being done to keep you in touch day to day and on special occasions like birthdays.

We would like to know your experience of:

  • Using video calls (FaceTime, Zoom etc) or telephone calls. Does the home support these?  How many times a week and how long?  Does a member of staff help your loved one with the call?
  • Socially distanced visits. Does the home support ‘window’ visits.  How many times a week and how long?
  • How does the home keep you informed about how your loved one is getting on (apart from necessary issues about their care or health). Eg manager updates, photographs, videos
  • Does the home have a programme of group and 1 to 1 activities? Has your loved one taken part?
  • Has the home asked you what, within the current restrictions, would make this time easier?
  • What, within the current restrictions, would make it better for you and your love one?
  • When restrictions are eventually eased (not totally lifted) what would help you and your loved one?

The forums will take place via Zoom. Read our guide on how to use Zoom.

If you would like to take part please contact Laura Kane: laurak@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk, or call 03332 408468.

If you can’t make the forum and would like to tell us your story, or would rather speak to one of our team in confidence please get in touch.