Measures that have helped this North East care home avoid a single case of coronavirus

A range of innovative measures have helped a local care home avoid any cases of coronavirus among residents and staff.

Thursday, 9th July 2020, 7:00 am

Despite the best efforts of care homes both locally and nationally many have experienced cases of Covid-19 and sadly deaths.

Abbeyvale Care Centre in Blackhall Colliery says it has been extremely lucky not to have had any cases.

The home has implemented a range of measures which have proved successful in keeping staff and residents safe.

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Senior Carer at Abbeyvale Care Centre, Amy Obrien (front) with staff Shiela Jones, Sophie Richards, Gail Tate, Shauna Gravestone, Kelly Veitch, Leonard Maziva Dundo, Linda Headley and Sophie Lewis. Picture by Frank Reid

They have included going into lockdown early, widespread testing, staff changing into their work clothes on site, and daily temperature checks.

Abbeyvale manager Julie Shield said: “All care homes have worked really, really hard. We have just been very lucky.

“My heart goes out to other homes that have had it. It’s heartrending.”

From March 12, the home was closed to all but essential visitors, but has recently started to hold some socially distanced visits with family members separated by a perspex screen.

Abbeyvale Care Centre senior carer Amy O'brien. Picture by Frank Reid

Abbeyvale bought 101 new uniforms – two per staff member – with staff changing into them in a dedicated area on arrival and being laundered on site.

Charlotte Lumley, operations manager for the home’s operators Essential Care and Support, said: “The home has been very innovative in their approach. We made the difficult decision to lockdown early but it has stood us in good stead.

“When the Government agreed all care homes could have a test the full home, all staff and residents, was tested.

“Everybody came back negative which was fantastic.”

All staff and residents have their temperatures taken twice a day, and Abbeyvale is installing new less invasive thermal imaging cameras in the entrance and dining rooms.

“They will immediately alert the management team if someone has a higher temperature than expected,” added Charlotte. The person would be asked to isolate immediately and get tested.

Staff also completed risk assessments with a particular focus on ethnic minorities to ensure the home was doing everything it could to safeguard them.

Despite the current situation, staff training has not been interrupted, and various activities to keep residents' spirits up have been organised including hosting a singer in the car park.

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