FAQs - Our response to Coronavirus
Updated 14 August 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?
Unfortunately, the answer is no, even if both households are shielding.
Keeping your ‘support bubble’/’extended household’ safe
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.
What if one of your ‘support bubble’/ ‘extended household’ has coronavirus symptoms?
All the people in the group will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
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. Our sales offices are not yet taking walk in viewings.
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?
Everyone in the UK is at risk of coronavirus, but as our retirement communities are for people over 60 , our homeowners are more vulnerable.
Their health and wellbeing are our utmost priority and we monitor 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 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 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 support and the latest guidance from Public Health authorities to help us create as safe an environment as possible.
How are you protecting your homeowners from Coronavirus?
We have put in place new procedures to reduce the risk of infection across our communities. We’re following Public Health England guidelines but have also introduced additional measures across all our developments. Our procedures are evolving all the time, but they include:
- Daily (at least) infection control cleaning in Retirement Living PLUS developments
- Reopening some of our guest suites with increased cleaning. These are restricted to guests of residents in the specific developments
- Asking all homeowners and staff to rigorously respect social distancing rules
- Measures to ensure safety and social distancing in our restaurants
- Limiting the use of our communal spaces to meetings of up to two households, in line with current government guidelines.
- Weekly communication to all homeowners in our managed developments with advice on self-isolation, shielding and social distancing. This has included guides to connecting to the internet and help with activities to reduce social isolation.
- A Buddy system in which every homeowner identifies a trusted friend or family member who can check in on them and bring essential medical and food supplies, if needed. If a homeowner doesn’t have a Buddy, where possible our staff have volunteered to take on this role.
What is your policy around self-isolation?
Our homeowners make their own choices. However, in line with Public Health guidelines, we encourage strict adherence to current social distancing rules for all homeowners and staff and we support homeowners to self-isolate or shield themselves if they need to.
If we have questions about a particular development, who should we raise them with?
Ongoing care for homeowners
How are you making sure homeowners are cared for properly?
Our House and Estate Managers check in with homeowners regularly, as part of their usual duties.
We’ve made sure all homeowners have access to our Buddy scheme to help them get essentials if needed and to make sure they are well. We asked homeowners to identify a family member or friend to fulfil this role. If no Buddy is available, hundreds of volunteers in our business offer 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 if required.
Are homeowners supported if they have to 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. If necessary, we will continue to provide that care while a homeowner is self-isolating, following specific Government guidance to stay safe.
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 provide one of our own volunteers to do this.
We are asking that deliveries are left in the main entrance/reception and collected by homeowners, if possible. This helps to reduce unnecessary visitors throughout the development. All visitors must also follow the social distancing policy and not use the lifts which are reserved for homeowners.
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. Many of our head office staff and building teams have volunteered to provide cover for our House and Estates Managers if needed, and we can also provide remote support.
How many McCarthy & Stone homeowners have caught COVID-19?
From the start of this year up to the 27th June, 90 of our 20,000 homeowners have had confirmed cases of COVID-19. We believe the majority of these homeowners did not pick-up COVID-19 in our developments, and that the incidence of the virus being spread by neighbours or staff has been very low.
How do McCarthy & Stone infection rates compare to those of the equivalent age-group in the wider UK?
Has McCarthy & Stone had the same issues as care homes?
McCarthy & Stone does not offer a care home service. People who move into care homes are dependent on care. We offer elegant private apartments or bungalows with their own front door, designed for, and exclusive to, active older people. While some of our developments can offer bespoke personal care, for most homeowners this is about futureproofing when they move in.
Our homeowners have benefited from the protection of their own apartments, while the measures we have taken to keep the communal areas safe and protect against loneliness and isolation have resulted in a safer, and happier, environment.
What has McCarthy & Stone done to help homeowners during COVID-19?
We have focused our efforts on keeping homeowners as safe and happy as they can be under the Government’s restrictions.
We have changed the way we operate to protect our homeowners and staff, for instance, restricting visitors and increasing hygiene and cleaning in communal areas. We are continuously adapting our procedures according to Government guidance.
To help keep homeowners safe, over 98% of our developments have been staffed every working day during the crisis despite potential staff sickness or holidays. We seconded over 50 of our sales team to achieve this.
We created incident management teams and processes for every case where a homeowner or member of staff has potentially caught COVID-19 to prevent its spread.
To increase wellbeing and prevent feelings of isolation we’ve:
- Created a Buddy programme – around 400 of our staff volunteered to collect essentials for homeowners and provide support over the phone
- Nationally we’ve provided entertainment to increase morale – including fitness ideas; pen pal schemes with local school children; and online talks
- Locally our managers have been proactive and creative in providing events including balcony birthday celebrations, virtual coffee mornings/happy hours and fish and chip nights
- Our IT support team have created a service to get not tech-savvy homeowners online.
Guidance on visitors
Will I still be allowed to visit the development?
Yes, in line with the current government rules you are able to visit friends and family inside their home, unless specific local restrictions apply.
Please do not visit our developments if you, or anyone you live with, have any symptoms of Covid-19: a high temperature, a new persistent cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, however mild.
Can a homeowner visit their friend in the same development?
Yes, in line with the current government rules, homeowners are able to visit friends in the same development, unless specific local restrictions apply.
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 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 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 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 new process.
Should I consider moving into McCarthy and Stone while COVID-19 is still an issue?
Everyone should consider their own personal circumstances. However we believe our developments offer a safe and supported environment in which to live, and this has been true throughout the crisis.
The protective measures and social support we continue to offer mean we believe that many people would feel safer and happier in our properties, than they would do in their current home.