The future of care following Covid-19.

The COVID-19 crisis has had and continues to have, a tragic impact on people throughout the UK, including the care sector in particular.

In our work at Guild Living, we’re absolutely passionate about creating a better world for older people. We believe that the need to plan and develop age-appropriate housing that accommodates people’s changing care needs between regular housing and ‘care homes’ is key. Yet there’s currently no Government policy on this. Our ambition at Guild Living is to see policy put in place so that vital, positive action can be driven forward to change lives.

With these goals in mind, when this terrible virus appeared, we quickly started asking: ‘What can we do to be as prepared as possible – and to help build a better future?’. That’s why, in creating pandemic policies, our planning hasn’t just been about minimising the impact of this outbreak, but also being ready for a potential ‘next time’ – whether that’s COVID-19 or other life-threatening viruses and diseases.

We recognise that many people in the care sector have been doing amazing work, often with very limited resources. Our aim is to bring our knowledge and expertise to add to what’s already been achieved. We’re committed to working collaboratively for the benefit of all.

We’ve listened to scientific expertise

We’re acutely aware of our responsibilities to our communities. Our in-house knowledge is built on the experience that team members have gained from working in the care sector around the world. It’s enabled us to ask the right questions to start creating answers. The experts who work with us are currently undertaking extensive research and development on our behalf.

As a result of the work of many talented and knowledgeable people, we’ve created a new programme called the ‘Guild Shield’. It’s all about protecting those who live, work and visit our communities and making them as safe as possible.

The Guild Shield will be headed by leading epidemiologists and scientists in the field of disease control and will cover many different, carefully planned initiatives. We’re establishing protocols and practices, including the use of bespoke technology and biosecurity, that enable us to put in place rigorous, strict measures to control infections for team members and visitors, so we can minimise the spread of viruses.

Making the most of wearable technology

Before COVID-19, our teams had already been working on a unique programme to create wearable technology for our Members. Originally, this was part of our commitment to providing high-level, holistic health and well-being, including measuring heart rate and blood pressure, helping to prevent falls, changes of movement and more. The technology has now taken on even more significance. For example, it can be used to measure body temperature to act as early indicator of possible infections and therefore help to minimise the spread of these.

Infection prevention

Our team of experts will lead and advise us, as we train Guild team members in understanding the indicators of infection so these can be identified and acted on as quickly as possible. Being able to recognise trends and readings that show signs of infection will mean that appropriate medical support can be delivered to Members faster and more effectively.

We’ll also appoint a dedicated Infection Prevention Practitioner to lead action and carry out routine tasks to maintain the highest standards possible across the community. They’ll also act as the link person to the wider healthcare community services. Establishing these links is one of our first jobs when we plan a new community, because we believe communication is fundamental in these situations.

As part of their role, the Infection Prevention Practitioner will lead ongoing training to make sure all Guild CaRE staff are aware of the latest medical advice on the prevention and treatment of diseases for Members and visitors.

The reassurance of more personalised CaRE

At Guild Living, we’ve always believed in having higher numbers of team members than you might expect, allowing us to provide more personalised support. In times of infection, as we work to limit any risk from staff to Member, we’ll make our ‘CaRE‘ even more personalised. So, for example, we’ll have more teams, both day and night.

They’ll have appropriate PPE equipment available 24/7, and there’ll be the highest standard of training for ALL staff on how best to isolate and contain infection. Our suppliers and contractors must also show that they observe our strict standards in infection prevention and control. It’s all about being permanently proactive rather than simply reactive.

Designed for the future

The flexible design of our communities means that social distancing can be readily put in place if it’s needed. Self-isolation has been another key aspect of responding to COVID-19. Those Members who live independently in our Guild Residences will have their own kitchen, dining and living areas so they can comfortably self-isolate if required. If any Members want or need to have meals made for them, our on-site Guild restaurant and café can provide these in times of lockdown. They’ll be able to go out into our secure outdoor garden area for fresh air and exercise.

While all Members have access to support, our communities include a custom-designed, higher-level CaRE community for those that need it. Because Members being cared for here have greater vulnerability, there’ll be a dedicated secure access lobby to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination by minimising the use of and footfall to areas.

We’ve built other innovative design features into our CaRE community that are designed to reduce the risk and the spread of infections like COVID-19:

  • The area of CaRE is split into ‘households’ where Members live in a small number of groups, minimising risk and allowing separation where required.
  • Each of the living areas has several lounge and activity areas. This allows Members to stay active but provides for greater distancing when it’s needed.
  • As well as being able to isolate specific areas, our flexible design also means we can separate air flow to these.
  • CaRE Suites are large and have plenty of natural light with floor to ceiling windows.
  • Members can have meals in separate secure dining areas if necessary.

As in all our work, our response to COVID-19 embodies the principles of enabling people to live their best lives by remaining independent for as long as possible. We’re committed to maintaining our Members’ security, dignity and peace of mind, in both a physical and a data sense.

If you’d like to read more about our response to COVID-19, you’ll find regular updates on the Guild Lab.