30 October 2020

Letter from MHA Chief Executive Sam Monaghan to family and friends of all care home residents

The pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges and one of the greatest for us has been balancing the need to protect the health of our residents alongside their mental and emotional wellbeing. The longer the pandemic goes on, the greater that challenge becomes.

Clearly, none of us want to see a repeat of what happened in early 2020. I’m sure you’ll be aware that the lack of testing, an unreliable supply chain of PPE, continuous changes to policy and hospital discharges of those untested or with a positive Covid-19 status, sadly contributed to the loss of many of our residents. 

Like care homes across the country, our immediate reaction in Spring was to shut the doors to protect our residents. This however inevitably meant that family and friend visits were curtailed. The pain and anguish this caused is evident to all of us at MHA and we sympathise entirely with our residents and all their family and friends who have not been able to see each other. 

Since then we have been working hard to open up our care homes for visiting, continuously lobbying the Government to give us clear guidelines that allow us to enable these visits. Alongside this we have also been asking for testing for family and friends so that visits could continue with a negative test for Covid-19. This would provide both additional protection and give all parties greater peace of mind that they are contributing to reducing the risk of the virus being passed on. 

Over the summer we have worked hard to enable people to see their loved ones again through outdoor visits, ensuring the safety of residents in doing so. 

As we moved into Autumn, we have been working on how to best open our homes to indoor visiting. Please believe me when I say this is what I want and what our managers want for you and your loved one. 

However, as we have learnt through this pandemic, local circumstances have a considerable bearing on what we are actually able to do. Whilst we want you to be able to see your loved one again, there are conditions each home must meet before visiting can be allowed. Each home has to have the go ahead from its local Director of Public Health, the criteria for which varies from area to area, and is different again in the devolved nations. Where we are locally allowed to do so, and provided that the home does not have an outbreak, be assured that we will be opening to visitors.

We have to abide by these measures, not only for the welfare of residents and colleagues, but also because if we didn’t, we risk action by our regulators, which could ultimately lead to the closure of a home. In addition, if we don’t do everything we can to minimise the risk to residents and visitors, we face challenges from our insurers. This is different from the NHS, which has been indemnified by the Government in relation to cases arising from Covid-19.

I want to assure you that we are doing all we can to re-establish regular visits and have been lobbying the Government long and hard for testing for family and friends to enable this to happen. If you want to join us in that, please write to your local MP, local council leader and local Director of Public Health. 

By working together, we can hopefully get visiting in our homes once more - and how wonderful that would be if we could achieve it for Christmas. 

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