Our policy - Our response to Coronavirus
Updated 6 April 2020
The Coronavirus situation continues to change rapidly, and we are adapting the ways in which we work to protect our homeowners and our colleagues. We appreciate these are worrying times for our homeowners, their families, friends and communities across the country.
With this in mind, we have compiled a set of frequently asked questions that outline the key measures we have put in place in the last few weeks.
If you live in a McCarthy & Stone development and your question is not answered below, please reach out to your House or Estate Manager, who can provide any additional guidance and support you may need.
We would like to thank all our homeowners and their families for their cooperation and resilience. The entire team at McCarthy & Stone is dedicated to supporting our communities during this time.
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 which started some weeks ago.
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 Public Health England guidance, 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 Public Health England guidance, 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
- Stopped all but essential visits
- 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 several times in the past few days advising them on how to reduce the risk of infection and cope with self-isolation, shielding and staying at home.This has included guidance on getting connected to the internet if they aren’t already and how to secure stocks of medication or food.Contact details of delivery services for both have been shared
- 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 – something still permitted in the Prime Minister’s recent announcement
Our House Managers and Estates teams continue to be in regular contact with our homeowners, either on site or by phone, and are backed up by a central team.
We are looking to put further support in place to help our homeowners stay active socially within their communities - even if this cannot be done face to face. We have asked for volunteers in our wider business to support this and many have come forward.
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 England guidelines, we are encouraging strict adherence to social distancing for all homeowners and staff.
In addition, we are supporting homeowners to self-isolate or “shield” themselves if this is needed. Ultimately, the Prime Minister’s advice that everybody should now stay at home will apply to all McCarthy & Stone homeowners too.
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 look to check in with homeowners regularly, as part of their usual duties.
We are making sure all homeowners also 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 are looking for volunteers in our business to support and already more than many have come forward to do so.
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.
We are looking to provide more social support to homeowners in the coming days and weeks.
Will homeowners still have care and support if they self-isolate?
In line with Public Health England guidelines, we have advised our homeowners to self-isolate if they experience any symptoms of Coronavirus or live with someone who does.
We have written to each of our homeowners to explain what self-isolation involves and how it will affect them. We appreciate this may be a daunting prospect for many, so this week we have started delivering information packs to every homeowner’s door, with helpful tips on how to keep healthy, happy and entertained during the self-isolation and stay at home period. We have also shared details of organisations and charities homeowners can call upon if they need further support and this will continue weekly.
Our House and Estate Managers are in regular contact with homeowners, either on site or on the phone. We’ve also set up a Buddy system in which every homeowner identifies a trusted friend or family member, or a member of our staff if needed, who can help check in on them and bring medical and food supplies, if needed.
Some of our Retirement Living PLUS homeowners receive additional care from us. We will review this care, and where it is necessary 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?
In order to protect our homeowners as much as possible and limit the risk of infection, we are requesting that only essential visitors enter our developments. In line with the Government’s ‘stay at home’ announcement, only those who are providing care, medicine or essential food supplies to homeowners unable to manage this themselves can visit the developments at the moment.
This means domiciliary care providers should continue to attend our homeowners, but general guests and visitors are not allowed. We would ask that people try video calls, social media, letter writing and phone calls to stay connected to our homeowners.
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.
Can a homeowner visit their friend in the same development?
The latest Government guidance requires that everyone stays in their home unless they need to shop for basic necessities, are taking one form of exercise, have a medical need, are providing care for a vulnerable person or are travelling to and from work if this work can’t be done at home. This therefore means that visits between friends in the development are not permitted.
Our Buddy system is now live. This involves homeowners identifying a trusted friend or family member who can help check in on them with regular phone calls and bring medical and food supplies to their development, if needed. For those who do not have a Buddy available, we have identified volunteers within our business to provide support and many have come forward to do this.
We are providing regular support for homeowners to help them deal with the isolation this ‘stay at home’ policy may cause.
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. Please help them and us though if you can. We understand that some people may have other commitments or circumstances that make it difficult to visit our homeowners, but our main priority is to ensure that every resident has at least one familiar line of support.
Are you testing your care staff for COVID-19?
We are not testing staff at this point, as Public Health England has advised that only people with severe suspected symptoms are tested.
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.
As most other organisations, we expect to be under pressure during the Coronavirus outbreak. Our homeowners live independently, and our services are set-up as such. For example, on Retirement Living developments we have one member of staff – our House Managers – who work weekdays. We would ask family members and friends to be understanding of this situation. We are committed to providing the best support we can but would ask for your support too.
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?
Some of our customers are due to move into their new home in the next few days – and we will support this as needed and where possible. This only applies if the new homeowner has a genuine and urgent need to move – for example, they are more vulnerable where they are now or they have no support from friends or family. We have put a thorough set of procedures in place for these new homeowners to follow to enable a safe transition for all. We will also ask that these people self-isolate for 7-14 days post move in.
Please talk to our sales staff for more details.