CARE homes around Oxfordshire have put in measures to make sure they are 'covid-secure' during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

New 'cleaning technologies', isolation zones and monthly testing are just a few things care homes are doing to ensure residents and staff are protected.

George Tuthill, managing partner at Wardington House care home in Banbury, has implemented strategies to ensure his Alzheimer's specialist home is ready for the second hit of the pandemic.

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Mr Tuthill's main concern is 'the issue of testing'.

He said: "The government testing program is not working well and is taking a long time for results to come back through, and so we were unable to test as often or as regularly as we would like.

"So now we are investing a very significant amount of money, £40,000, into purchasing our own testing equipment, which will give us the ability to test within two hours.

"It is a very new technology that did not exist in April."

Wardington care home has also made 'large investments' into cleaning technologies such as 'hydroxyl generators'.

Mr Tuthill, who read about the generators being used in America, explained: "Hydroxyl is a naturally occurring molecule that is in the air, and it works as a disinfectant.

"The generator is about the size of carry-on luggage and will disinfect the room. No one else in the UK has used this, as far as I am aware.

"The generator will go around the home the whole time, cleaning soft furnishing and it doesn't affect people."

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Vale House care home in Sandford-Upon-Thames specialises in dementia care, so their main focus has been on improving communication between residents and family members.

Lysbeth Weeks, the new head of the home, said: "Because we only take people with dementia, we have to be really careful with our communication, because they do not always understand Covid and what it means.

"To help with this we have created a family support team which has been extremely important for residences.

"We have two staff that work purely with family. They set up visits and become a point of liaison between the home and the family."

Vale House has also put in place several strategies to stop the virus entering the care home.

Ms Weeks said: "We are only accepting one patient a week, and making sure they have a negative Covid test before they come in.

"We are also doing weekly testing of all our staff and monthly testing of all our residents.

"We have had a real problem of getting testing kits, but the problem is not so much the government supply but the turnaround time.

"Sometimes our results have taken 24 hours but sometimes it has taken five days."

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Jane Roberts who owns Rosebank care home in Bampton, and Churchfields care home in Cassington said: "Nothing will significantly change if a lockdown were to occur as our residents have been living in a covid-secure place.

"We have exceptional staff and people need to be aware that we have been working tirelessly since February.

"We are not only Covid-ready but Covid-secure.

"To our staff it will not feel like a second wave as we have no changed the way we have been working since February.

"Staff come to work and get changed immediately, even their shoes. They go home, shower immediately and even keep a close friend bubble to protect residents and colleagues."

Ms Roberts highlighted: "It is important to remember homes aren't working in isolation, liaising very closely with local councillors, local MP's and other homes.

"We are working to support each other."