Jane Roberts, who owns and manages Rosebank Care Home and Churchfields Care Home in West Oxfordshire with her husband Gerry, on her experience during coronavirus.

During this unprecedented pandemic, it’s been a very difficult time for care homes, their staff, residents, and families.

We’ve already heard a huge amount about the issues and challenges that people living and working in care homes have experienced in recent months.

But at both Rosebank and Churchfields Care Home we’ve managed the virus and maintained a safe environment in which residents have been thriving, during the last three months.

With recent ‘outstanding’ ratings from the CQC in both homes, we’ve had clear policies and procedures in place from an early stage, along with a highly competent, well trained, and well-supported team, who are able to deal with the pandemic.

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Due to my background in nursing, coupled with my husband’s expertise of being a doctor, we believe our experience and knowledge has certainly helped us to provide outstanding care prior to and during the current lockdown period.

In recent months we’ve had no issues relating to testing and PPE.

Both Rosebank and Churchfields have had adequate supplies of PPE, and we’ve continued to keep our stocks well maintained.

Staff are wearing all appropriate protection each day and continue to take all precautions at work, and at home, to keep themselves and our residents safe. Testing is now readily available to staff and residents.

Surveillance testing is now being rolled out to all care homes.

This will make a huge difference, as it allows us to monitor any potential asymptomatic carriers, thus helping to minimise the spread of the virus.

It is heartening to see the strong partnerships that are being further forged, and also newly created, between residents, carers, and communities.

Our care team have introduced innovative ways to keep residents connected with our local communities and have utilised the power of technology to help avoid social isolation for our vulnerable residents.

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Our staff have been keeping spirits high by bringing the outside world into the home. Weekly ‘keep fit’ sessions have continued through FaceTime and staff have supported residents in using Skype to contact relatives. This has provided considerable enjoyment for our residents.

Community life has been, and always will be essential for the health and wellbeing of our residents.

During the lockdown period, communities have really come together, which we’re extremely thankful for. As a team, we’re working hard to maintain our community links, so that going forward our residents are still able to remain a valued part of the locality.

While this pandemic has been distressing to both families and residents, we feel that we’ve done our upmost to ensure that the mental wellbeing of all has been maintained and enhanced.

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The voices of our residents, their families, friends, and our care home staff are at the heart of discussions and decisions about moving forward at both of our care homes.

Most recently, we have introduced socially distanced visits, reuniting residents with their loved ones for the first time since the start of lockdown. These new measures have enabled families to visit their loved ones face to face, in a safe environment.

We are following strict safety procedures. All visits are being carefully organised and monitored by care home managers, and are taking place in the garden, with two-metre social distancing.

These visits needed to happen as we felt that residents required that family link that they have so dearly missed, and we can already see the positive impact that it is having on our residents’ wellbeing.

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We are also very pleased to be welcoming new residents into both of our homes, working closely with our local health partners, with specific procedures in place to enable us to do this with minimum risk to our residents and staff.

As Covid-19 continues in the UK, and as we gradually ease out of lockdown in the coming weeks, we will remain extremely vigilant to keep our much-loved residents and staff safe and well.

Coronavirus is not going away; it will be within our communities for some time.

In the meantime, we will continue to implement new ways of working, ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents at all times.

We will continue to strive to emphasise quality of life for all our residents in their new home, as has always been our philosophy.