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Booking A Visit – Responsible Social Distancing Solutions for Residential Homes

Amie Parnaby
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Book a visit with social distancing

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What wouldn’t we do for our loved ones? Making a little extra effort to ensure their safety and keep them healthy isn’t too much to ask. Booking a visit to see them is the only socially responsible thing to do…

Right now, half the world is still under the latter half of lockdown measures, and the other half is riding the gradual stages of the downward curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it’s not over yet. The most vulnerable members of our society are the elderly, and those with complex health problems, many of whom live together in retirement or care homes. Management teams in these homes are seeking ways to mitigate potential exposure, minimise the risk of infection, and still allow these vulnerable people to have visitors and social contact. It’s a fine line to walk, but there are options available. While they might not be able to accommodate unspecified numbers, by booking a visit to “Grandpa”, people still get to see and support their vulnerable relatives.

Isolation is Unhealthy in the Long-term

While lockdown measures have been in force, care homes have been safeguarding their residents by restricting visitors to the absolute minimum required for continued health, such as doctors, nurses and volunteers. But it’s not sustainable. Even the most solitary of people need human contact and interaction to stay mentally healthy. Restricting access to loved ones for an undetermined amount of time is not good for the mental and emotional health of our families. 

As the global situation develops, and we discover more about the novel coronavirus, the more experts suspect that we will have to live with it until there is a vaccine, such as for the annual flu. Only then will we finally be able to lift the more restrictive measures around the most vulnerable in society. Until someone creates the COVID-19 vaccine, we need to implement alternative methods of keeping in touch while still safeguarding the health of “at-risk” groups of people.

Responsible Social Distancing Solutions “Outside the Box”

In order to reduce casual contact with their residents, many retirement homes are using temporary outdoor accommodations for external visitors. They are easier to disinfect between visits and confine association to a single resident and their visitor(s). These temporary accommodations also mean that visitors don’t have to walk through common areas within the homes, which might spread disease among the entire resident population and the staff. 

Unlike common visiting areas and free movement between rooms, these temporary rooms must require a scheduling system to ensure that visits are shared equally between residents. They also expect strict adherence to times and allow buffers for cleaning between visits. There’s no point isolating contact to individual residents if they don’t sanitise the area afterwards.

Other homes are rotating visiting areas and reducing the numbers of visitors per resident and the number of residents allowed in one place. 

Some places ensure that their residents get the option to have face time with their families through electronic means, but there’s not enough tech to go around. Once again, their needs to be a method for scheduling and equitably distributing these contact channels.

Whichever method of ensuring social distancing and client care that care home implement, they need a plan to allow residents and visitors to book a visit, whether that’s electronically or in person.

Why Booking a Visit Makes Sense

While social distancing and lockdowns have become a severe irritation in our lives, most of us have maintained the rules because doing so has protected our ageing parents and grandparents, and our sick relatives. If booking a visit can continue to help protect our loved ones from an unnecessary viral infection, then surely that is what we want to do.

Not only is booking a visit to a long-term care facility an excellent idea for families and visitors, but it’s also an invaluable tool for the management teams and staff within these institutions. 

While scheduling might not have been at the top of to-do lists for most residential homes before COVID-19, having a defined timetable of visitors means that staff know where they’re needed at particular times. 

If a residential home has an auxiliary visitors pod, there may need to be staff on hand to transfer residents with mobility issues. Likewise, at the end of every visit, there is a required sanitisation of the visitors’ room before the next appointment can begin. Being able to see the schedule in advance and know where and when people will need staff attention is like gold to health and social care staff.   

How a Scheduling Solution For Booking a Visit Can Help

Whether your residential facility is a single location or even a chain of homes for the elderly and frail, you can manage all of your visit requests online with multiple locations. If you are lucky enough to use the temporary visitor pods, or even if you simply restrict the number of visitors that can attend at once, there is a SimplyBook.me solution for you.

You can set your “open for visiting” hours to the least busy times of day, such as mealtimes or regular doctor visits. Allocate staff members to the residents with mobility issues and also create buffer times within each booked visit, to account for the cleaning between appointments.

It’s even possible to use intake forms to determine the recipient of the visit and confirm contact tracing for anyone that might be at risk of being a virus carrier. 

If you use electronic means for getting your residents some face time with their families, you can also use the scheduling solution for booking a visit virtually. You still have limited resources in terms of the electronic devices available, and it still requires a schedule of use and cleaning between users.

Staying Vigilant and Keeping Residents Safe

Creating an efficient scheduling system is a time-consuming and unnecessary process when the system already exists. In these times of social distancing, implementing a booking system to safeguard the environments in which our most vulnerable in society live, is essential.

To keep our loved ones, our charges, and our businesses safe from casual infection by unmanaged contact booking an appointment is the least we can do. Read more about the SimplyBook.me solution and book a meeting with our account manager.

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