The managing director of a group of leading Devon care homes has welcomed the relaxation of Covid visiting rules, but also says we need to be cautious as infection rates are rising again in the county.
In the easing of restrictions, the government has announced that from this week, there will be no limit on the number of visitors allowed at care homes and self-isolation periods have been reduced. In addition, care homes will only have to follow outbreak management rules for fourteen days, instead of twenty-eight, as previously.
Geoffrey Cox, the boss of Southern Healthcare which owns four care homes in Devon (in Exeter, Plymouth, Dawlish and Seaton), says: “We absolutely welcome this news. Visiting is fundamentally important for wellbeing – the residents especially, their families and the staff – after a very harrowing couple of years.”
However, he says vigilance will need to be maintained as the pandemic is obviously far from over as most experts are warning. “Infection rates are rising rapidly in Devon yet again and half of the care homes in the country are experiencing outbreaks. By and large, outbreak solutions developed 2 years ago are now out of date post-vaccination.
We have been hit by the Omicron variant with others, which has affected virtually all homes in recent weeks. All but one of our homes is now out of lockdown and we are desperately hoping that this will continue to be an improving picture.”
Mr. Cox feels testing and vaccination will continue to be crucial as care homes open up: “We will be encouraging people to test at home and register their results before visiting. Residents and staff are vaccinated, but unfortunately, not all visitors. While Omicron has been milder and we have not seen any hospitalisations this time round, we still must be concerned, just as we are with colds and flu.”
He added that all Southern Healthcare’s 220 staff are vaccinated, along with all eligible residents, save the tiny few for whom vaccination is not a viable option.
Southern Healthcare runs four highly rated and award-winning homes in Devon. They are Sefton Hall, Dawlish; The Old Rectory, Exeter; The Seaton, Seaton; Parkwood House, Plymouth.