FAQs - Our response to Coronavirus
Updated 23 June 2020
The safety and wellbeing of our homeowners and staff is our priority.
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we’re continuously revising our processes, going beyond the government guidelines to protect everyone in our communities.
Our ‘frequently asked questions’ about our response to the pandemic are regularly updated to help you find the answers you need.
If you’re a McCarthy & Stone homeowner and can’t find the answer you’re looking for, please speak to your House or Estate Manager. Everyone else should contact us for more information.
We would like to thank all our homeowners and their families for their cooperation and resilience at this difficult time.
Advice on ‘support bubbles’/ ‘extended households’
What is a ‘support bubble’/ ‘extended household’?
‘Support bubble’ is the term used in England and ‘extended household’ is the term used in Scotland, but the rules are essentially the same.
It’s a cautious step to help people who are at the greatest risk of isolation.
Any single adult living alone (or with children under the age of 18) will be able to form a ‘support bubble’/ ‘extended household’ with one other household (of any size). This means they can act as one household - they can go into each other's houses, stay the night and don't have to maintain social distancing.
If you are not in a ‘support bubble’/ ‘extended household’ you can’t meet inside people’s homes yet – that is still against the law.
Can I form or join a ‘support bubble’/’extended household’ if I’m shielding?
Keeping your ‘support bubble’/’extended household’ safe
The risk of infection rises with the number of people in your group and the number of interactions you have with people you don’t live with. Maintain good hand hygiene to keep you and the people you meet safe.
Homeowners, please try to visit your ‘support bubble’/’extended household’ in their home rather than in your development.
This lowers the risk to vulnerable members of our community. We understand this will not always be practical.
Who can form a ‘‘support bubble’/’extended household’?
A single adult household only.
Single parents living with dependent children can also create a ‘support bubble’/’extended household’, so even if you don’t live alone you could be asked to be the ‘other’ household by a relative or friend who meets the criteria.
What are the do’s and don’ts of a ‘‘support bubble’/ extended household’?
üYou can meet – indoors or out – and be closer than 2 metres from each other.
üYou can also stay overnight as if you lived with that household.
! You should continue to stick to social distancing guidelines with other households.
! You should only form a ‘bubble/ extended household’ with one household and they should only be with you.
O You must not gather indoors or stay overnight with anyone outside of this ‘bubble / extended household’.
O You can only have one ‘bubble / extended household’ per household - you can't change it or add other households.
What if one of your ‘support bubble’/ ‘extended household’ has coronavirus symptoms?
Guidelines for viewings/resales/rentals
What precautions are you taking to protect the community?
We’ve redesigned our processes from viewings to moving in going beyond the basic guidelines to ensure our potential new residents, existing homeowners, and staff stay as safe as possible. We do this by:
1. Providing virtual information
We’re offering ‘virtual tours’ to reduce unnecessary visits.
2. Managing viewings safely
All viewings are arranged in advance by our Sales teams or through your House / Estate Manager for private sales. Customers can stay for a maximum of 60 minutes. We only allow a two viewings per day.
3. Checking the health of visitors
Customers are required to complete a questionnaire to check that they don’t have any Covid-19 symptoms. In addition, they may have their temperature taken on arrival – if anyone has a high temperature, they will be asked to return home and re-book once their temperature has returned to normal.
Like all visitors, everyone attending a viewing will be asked to wash their hands upon arrival or use hand sanitiser. We will also be encouraging them to wear a face covering, though this is not mandatory. If any visitors use the lift (due to disability) they will be required to sanitise the hand rail and buttons afterwards.For McCarthy & Stone sales: our teams will be cleaning apartments between visits.
What if I want to sell / let my home?
Please speak to your House / Estate Manager – they can give you a copy of our new guide to sales / lettings. If you use an independent estate agent, please give them a copy.
Protecting homeowners from Coronavirus
Are homeowners at McCarthy & Stone developments at risk of Coronavirus?
There’s no doubt that everyone in the UK is at risk of Coronavirus. Our retirement communities are for those 60 and over and our homeowners are more vulnerable to the virus as a consequence.
Their health and wellbeing are our utmost priority and we have been monitoring international and local developments around COVID-19 very closely.
We have taken many steps to reduce the risk of infection across our retirement communities, in many cases going beyond immediate Government guidance to do so. This includes the introduction of new hygiene and social policies, as well as limitations and restrictions on visitors.
While our homeowners live independently, we are able to provide them with significantly higher levels of help, support and guidance than if they lived alone. Our Retirement Living PLUS developments have teams on site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, while our Retirement Living developments have on-site support during the week and a dedicated out-of-hours helpline.
We are in close contact with our homeowners and our on-site House and Estate Managers to ensure everyone has access to the latest guidance from Public Health authorities, the appropriate support, and is helping us create as safe an environment as possible.
How are you protecting your homeowners from Coronavirus?
We have put in place new procedures, restrictions and advice to reduce the risk of infection across our communities. We are following the guidance issued by Public Health England authorities, but have also introduced several additional measures across all our developments. Our procedures are evolving daily. To date, we have:
- In Retirement Living PLUS developments we have initiated infection control cleaning at least daily
- Limited visitors to those providing essential care
- All guest suites are closed
- Ceased all but emergency or statutorily required maintenance
- Asked all homeowners and staff to rigorously respect social distancing advice
- In this context, we have closed communal lounges, and in Retirement Living PLUS developments we have closed restaurants and put in place a service bringing food to homeowners’ apartments.
- Written to all homeowners in our managed developments weekly with advice on how to stay safe, coping with self-isolation, shielding and social distancing whilst out and about. This has included guidance on getting connected to the internet and access to activities to reduce social isolation.
- Set up a Buddy system in which every homeowner identifies a trusted friend or family member who can help check in on them and bring medical and food supplies, if needed. If a homeowner doesn’t have a buddy, our staff are volunteering to take on this role where possible.
What is your policy around self-isolation?
Our homeowners choose McCarthy & Stone because they want to live independently and ultimately make their own choices. However, in line with Public Health guidelines, we are encouraging strict adherence to current social distancing rules for all homeowners and staff.
In addition, we are supporting homeowners to self-isolate or “shield” themselves if this is needed
If we have questions about a particular development, who should we raise them with?
Ongoing care for homeowners
How will you make sure homeowners are cared for properly in the months ahead?
Our House and Estate Managers will check in with homeowners regularly, as part of their usual duties.
We are making sure all homeowners have a “Buddy”, to support getting essentials and to make sure they are well. We have asked homeowners to identify a family member or friend to fulfil this role. If no Buddy is available, we have hundreds of volunteers in our business who are offering this support in their own time.
On Retirement Living PLUS developments, where we have care staff, we are committed to providing the very highest level of service and care that we can. Many of our head office staff and building teams have volunteered to provide cover for House and Estate teams in the event this is needed.
Will homeowners still have care and support if they self-isolate?
In line with Public Health guidelines, we have advised our homeowners to self-isolate if they experience any symptoms of Coronavirus or live with someone who does.
Our House and Estate Managers are in regular contact with homeowners, either on site or on the phone. Our Buddy system continues to ensure every homeowner has someone on hand who will check in regularly and deliver medical and food supplies if needed.
Some of our Retirement Living PLUS homeowners receive additional care from us. Where it is necessary to do so, we will continue to provide that care while a homeowner is self-isolating. There is specific Government guidance on this which we are following.
Who in the development is dealing with getting shopping or supplies?
We have put in place a Buddy system to support homeowners with getting essentials – particularly food or medical supplies - when they are needed. This Buddy can be a family member or trusted friend, and where a homeowner does not have a Buddy available, we providing one of our own volunteers to do this.
All deliveries must be left in the main entrance/reception and collected by homeowners, if possible. Anyone who has to enter the development must sign in, wash their hands and use the gloves supplied. They must also follow the social distancing policy, not enter the communal areas and not use the lifts which are reserved for homeowners.
In our Retirement Living PLUS developments, we have closed restaurants and have put in place a service bringing food to homeowners’ apartments.
What happens when there is no House or Estate Manager?
Across each development we have at least one member of staff supporting our homeowners.
In the event that self-isolation of our staff causes staff shortages, we have contingency plans in place to help support our homeowners. Many of our head office staff and building teams have volunteered to provide cover for our House and Estates Managers in the event this is needed, and we are also providing remote support where needed.
Guidance on visitors
Will I still be allowed to visit the development?
The government rules still do not allow family and friends to visit our residents in their home. So, we are still restricting visitors and will not allow anyone to enter the development unless they are providing essential care to homeowner.
The rules have been relaxed to allow cleaners back in following strict procedures.
We are asking that all deliveries are left at the main entrance/reception and collected by homeowners. Visitors must not enter communal areas. Lifts are reserved for residents’ use only.
The latest government rules do mean that you can meet someone outside. Outside the “shielding hours” in the gardens, we will try to make arrangements for people to visit – still respecting the 2 metres social distancing when they do. If possible, we will create access for visitors to the outside space that doesn’t require them to come into the development. On a few developments where these arrangements are not practical – you can obviously still meet in a public space outside the development.
Can a homeowner visit their friend in the same development?
The latest Government guidance still does not allow visits inside a friend’s home. This therefore means that visits between friends in the development are not permitted.
However, the latest government rules do mean that homeowners can meet someone outside. We continue to ask homeowners to adhere to the government rules on social distancing, especially remaining 2m apart from any member of another apartment.
We will be providing cleaning materials to allow homeowners to clean garden furniture before and after use.
How can I sign up to be a Buddy?
We’re collecting Buddy information directly from our homeowners so please speak with them if you are relative or friend and you’d like to sign yourself up for this role.
Guidance for families or relatives of homeowners
What advice do you have for homeowners’ families regarding COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging for everyone and we understand that our homeowners’ families and friends will be worried. We are committed to providing the best possible care and service to all our homeowners but value your support in the months ahead to ensure they have access to the information and supplies they need.
If you’re concerned that your loved one doesn’t have a Buddy and you’re unable to fulfil this role yourself, then please do let us know and we’ll match them up with one of our staff or a volunteer.
Are you testing your care staff for COVID-19?
What happens if your development staff become unwell, or aren’t available to help?
Coronavirus is a very contagious. We are following guidance on self-isolating staff to avoid risk to homeowners. Where there is a suspected case in a member of staff, we are checking for other close contact and taking appropriate steps. Many of our head office staff and building teams have volunteered to provide cover for House and Estate teams in the event this is needed.
Guidance for people who are in the process of moving into a McCarthy & Stone development
Will new homeowners still be allowed to move into their new home?
The Government has recently updated their advice, to allow people to move home and to permit the sale/rental of properties to take place. McCarthy & Stone has fully updated its working practices to ensure our homeowners, potential homeowners and colleagues stay as safe as possible. At this point we are able to help with all sales and moving enquiries.
Please visit: Response to Covid-19 to learn more about our sales process during these times.