07 April 2020
I would like to offer reassurance and clarification following a report in this morning’s media regarding a Jersey care home and PPE.
Late last night, I was made aware of a situation in a care home, and I can confirm this afternoon that unfortunately, 17 residents of a home have tested positive for COVID-19. My thoughts are with those residents, staff and all their relatives at what is a challenging time.
I have personally asked to be kept updated on the situation at the care home, and I am currently reassured that all confirmed COVID-19 residents are stable and responding well to treatment. Residents are self-isolating in their respective rooms and being treated by GPs who have been supplied with appropriate PPE.
Symptomatic staff have been advised to remain absent from work and call the helpline if they are experiencing any fever or respiratory symptoms. Other residents are being tested as a precaution and are also self-isolating within their respective rooms.
Sadly, we cannot prevent the spread of coronavirus in care homes, but we can mitigate the way in which it can be spread. We have previously said that we expect up to 80% of Islanders to catch the virus. However, what is in our control is to flatten the curve – to extend the period of time in which we see positive cases of COVID-19.
This allows us to treat patients, and therefore, save more lives.
I know that this is a challenging time for all frontline health and care workers and that you will understandably be concerned for your health, and that of your families. You are some of the bravest in our community and we, as an Island, are indebted to you.
Thank you, for everything that you are doing to care for our Island’s eldest and most vulnerable citizens during this pandemic.
I would like to outline how we are currently handling PPE in the Island. We have an ongoing supply of PPE coming into the Island, several times a week.
Currently, there is sufficient PPE for those organisations who need it and they are expected to use PPE according to the public health guidelines issued by our medical officer for health. By this, I mean that it is not necessary for everyone to have PPE.
By following these guidelines, we will ensure we use PPE in the most effective way to help the Island to balance the current challenges of global supply and demand pressures on PPE. We need to ensure we use the stocks we have appropriately so that our staff and patients can remain safe. With regard to care homes, PPE has been delivered to nursing and residential homes dependent on their requirements, and deliveries are ongoing. ‘Hot drop’ packages are also delivered to care homes as soon as they report a suspected case of COVID-19. These ‘hot drop’ packages contain masks, gloves, gowns and aprons.
Updated guidance on what PPE to wear and when was distributed to all care homes in Jersey on Friday 3 April. This guidance is recirculated as and when updated, in line with Public Health guidelines. It is also clear that wearing PPE does not mean that staff should not be washing their hands frequently – they are advised to wash them immediately before and after attending to residents.
In addition, the frequency of cleaning has been stepped up in care homes, with special attention paid to horizontal surfaces and touch points. Please be assured that my team in Health and Community Services is doing everything we can to maintain stocks of PPE supplies on-island.
HCS is committed to openness and transparency in its handling of COVID-19, and I thank the public for their continuous support of our frontline health care workers.