Balancing risk of Covid 19 with the needs of vulnerable adults is never an easy exercise, but that is exactly where we are right now. Service users are desperate to return to day care, but we can only open when we believe we have minimised risks as far as we can. We have been in discussions now with Local Authorities in the N.E around risk assessment, bubbles, transport, and ongoing infection control, so that we can get the go ahead to open.

We received approval to open on 4th August only to have it withdrawn at the 11th hour because of a spike in the R number in the North of England. We now have a target of 24th August as a re-opening day, but that will be dependant on the R number reducing, not rising.

Can we make Day Care Covid secure? Frankly, no we can’t and anybody who claims that the risk level is zero is misleading service users. However, those that do attend day care can rest assured that the staff are bending over backwards to cover off all eventualities and minimise risks as far as we can. Dementia Matters have had no cases of Covid19 anywhere throughout the organisation and I hope that our regular service users are reassured by that.

However, we have effectively redesigned how we will operate Day Care moving forwards. The centre will be based on “bubbles”. That is the same people in an area, all transported in and out together, with the same staff member. Contact between bubbles will be minimised.

All attendees and staff will be health checked each day, including a temperature check. Anybody who appears unwell will not be allowed on the bus or through the doors. Harsh, but necessary.

All surfaces, including the inside of minibuses will be cleaned on a “as needed” basis, ie, after every use.

Heightened PPE procedures will be followed, with extra infection control procedures that go above and beyond that advised by PHE. We have always believed in total caution since day one of this dreadful pandemic and have always been one step ahead of National advice.

Staff have been trained in how to deliver activities safely and compassionately given The wearing of masks. We have had to change the way we do things and our Training Team has done a wonderful job at both informing staff and allaying any fears they may have around return to work.

Finally, all staff at Dementia Matters have been retained on 100% of their salary at direct cost to the charity and it will be our intention to continue this if we can. No staff have been made redundant and at this stage we do not foresee this happening.

Safety is paramount at Dementia Matters, along with the welfare and enjoyment of our service users and staff. Service users can rest assured that we are working incredibly hard to ensure that when Day Care does open, it opens safely and compassionately.

 

Dr Fraser Quin

CEO