Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

Health

Care homes are ‘damned if they do and damned if they don’t’ allow indoor visits

Published

on

A SOCIAL CARE leader says many care homes are in an “impossible position” after indoor visits by family and friends were given the go-ahead.

Mary Wimbury, the chief executive of Care Forum Wales, praised the Welsh Government for their cautious approach to the issue.

However, expectations were sky high after the easing of the rules that means that residents may be allowed one designated indoor visitor.

Ms Wimbury stressed that while indoor visits were being permitted again, beyond exceptional circumstances, care homes would need to undertake a rigorous risk assessment before judging visits could safely take place

Many care homes were “terrified” amid concerns a vaccine-resistant variant of the virus could appear at a time when health experts are convinced a third wave of the disease is inevitable.

Another problem that had emerged was the wildly fluctuating rate of second doses of the vaccine being given to people aged over 80, many of whom lived in care homes.

She said: “whilst it is excellent news that we are now able to begin the process of reopening care homes to visitors, it will be a phased approach and it is imperative that we proceed with caution.

“It will not be like pressing a button and everybody returning immediately to the normality that existed before the pandemic struck.

“We are looking forward to welcoming some sort of normality in the weeks and months ahead.

“Quite rightly, the Welsh Government has said the decision about visiting will be left to individual care homes who will carry out careful risk assessments.

“As the Welsh Government  have said, in many cases it will be about preparing for the reintroduction of visiting rather than it happening straight away.

“Infection and community transmission rates still vary in different parts of Wales and the Kent variant and other mutant strains are a real cause for concern.

“What we don’t know is how effective the vaccine is against some of the newer variants of Covid, particularly with what’s going on in Brazil.

“Health experts are warning that the new strain that’s causing such devastation in Brazil could sweep across the world. It’s absolutely raging.

“As the First Minister pointed out, we are facing an inevitable third wave of coronavirus and we have to take great care to protect our residents and our staff.

“Clearly, we want to get people back together again but we need to get more data on the vaccinations.

“The rate at which people aged over 80 in Wales – many of whom are in care homes – are receiving their second doses of vaccine fluctuates wildly, depending on where you are in Wales -from 0.1 per cent in Pembrokeshire to 48.4 per cent in Torfaen.

“In North Wales, the lowest percentage of second doses for the over 80s is in Wrexham which stands at 1.4 per cent while the highest is Conwy at 21.4 per cent.

“The vaccine roll-out in Wales has hitherto been a real success story so these new figures are baffling and a cause for concern.

“Whilst the first dose will provide a good degree of immunity, it is important that people are able to have the second jab to provide better protection, particularly in the case of people aged over 80 who are more likely to be frail and therefore more vulnerable.

“We will be contacting Public Health Wales to ask for an explanation and an assurance that, if these figures are correct, there are not these extreme fluctuations in future so that the distribution is fairer and more even across Wales.

“The other factor is that care homes that have recorded positive cases during the routine weekly testing will be flagged as red and the whole home will be closed down for 20 days.

“They are often false positive results but they can still close you down for 20 days. That means no visiting.

“Anyone that thinks we’re out of the woods needs to think again because the resumption of indoor visiting must be done extremely carefully.

“We’re all doing our utmost to bring back some normality but everybody needs to understand the fluidity of the situation.

“If you have a 50-bed care home that’s full and potentially 50 relatives coming in, the home will not know if they’ve been vaccinated or who they have been mixing with.

“Everyone understand that we have come through the most hideous 12 months since the pandemic was declared and there is now light at the end of that very dark tunnel.

“Care Forum Wales wants to see family members and care home residents united again but we would certainly support care homes in adopting a cautious approach. Some of these care homes are in an impossible situation because they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

“In fairness though, the Welsh Government has been far more sensible than their counterparts across the border and they deserve a great deal of credit for their understanding and cautious approach. You can’t press a button and it’s all happy days.”

Continue Reading

Health

Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin

Published

on

POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

Continue Reading

Health

Covid-19 restriction relaxations in Wales brought forward

Published

on

THE WELSH GOVERNMENT will be accelerating elements of its programme to relax Covid-19 restrictions as cases of new infections continue to fall across Wales, the First Minister today announced.

People will be able to form an extended household, visit the gym or take part in organised outdoor activities a week earlier than planned, as the public health situation – and vaccination rates – continue to improve.

The First Minister last week set out a detailed timetable for moving Wales firmly into alert level three. But some of these measures will now be introduced sooner than planned as cases have fallen markedly from 37 cases per 100,000 people to fewer than 21 per 100,000 this week.

The pressure on hospitals also continues to ease. Confirmed cases in hospital beds continue to reduce, and now stands at 89. This is 26% lower than last Thursday and is the lowest position since 22 September 2020.

The planned opening date for organised outdoor activities and outdoor wedding receptions will be moved forward to Monday 26 April from 3 May.

And, from Monday 3 May, a week earlier than previously signalled, gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities will be able to reopen for individual or one-to-one training. Extended households will also be allowed again, enabling two households to meet and have contact indoors.

First Minister, Mark Drakeford said:

“The public health situation in Wales continues to improve thanks to everything you are doing to help us control this awful virus. Cases of the virus are falling and our incredible vaccination programme continues to go from strength to strength.

“Last week, we set out our programme to further re-open the economy and relax the restrictions we have lived with for so long, as part of our careful, step-by-step approach to keeping everyone safe. This week, because of the improvements we continue to see, we can bring forward some of our plans.

“This is only possible because of the efforts everyone is making to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

From Monday 12 April, the following relaxations will go ahead:

  • The full return of children to schools for face-to-face education, all post-16 learners will return to further education and training centres, and university campus’ will be able to open for blended face-to-face/online learning for all students;
  • All remaining shops will reopen, completing the phased reopening of non-essential retail;
  • All remaining close contact services will open, including mobile services;
  • Travel restrictions on traveling into and out of Wales will be lifted. However, restrictions on travel to countries outside the Common Travel Area without a reasonable excuse, remain in place. The Common Travel Area means the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland;
  • Wedding ‘show-arounds’ by appointment are allowed;
  • Restrictions on political canvassing are removed, subject to canvassers doing so safely.
  • Further easements to restrictions in the coming weeks will be subject to the public health situation remaining favourable. These will be confirmed at the next three-weekly review of the coronavirus regulations on 22 April.

On Monday 26 April:

  • Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, would be allowed to reopen;
  • Outdoor hospitality can resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants. Indoor hospitality will remain closed except for takeaways;
  • Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people can again take place (previously Monday 3 May);
  • Weddings receptions can take place outdoors for up to 30 people (previously Monday 3 May).

On Monday 3 May (previously Monday 10 May):

  • Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen. This will include individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes;
    Extended household will again allow two households to meet and have contact indoors.
  • As set out in the revised Coronavirus Control Plan, a small number of outdoor pilot events of between 200 and 1,000 people are also being planned.
Continue Reading

Health

Third COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Wales following Moderna approval

Published

on

THIS WEEK marked another key milestone in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic with the arrival of supplies of the Moderna vaccine.

A third vaccine for use in Wales significantly adds to our defences in the face of coronavirus and will help to protect our most vulnerable.

Elle Taylor, an unpaid carer from Ammanford, became the first person in the UK to receive the vaccine Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.

Speaking after receiving the vaccine, the 24-year-old, who works at a further education college, said: “I’m extremely excited and happy.

“I’m an unpaid carer for my grandmother so it is especially important to me that I get it, so I can care for her properly and safely.

“My grandmother has had her first dose and she is going for her second dose on Saturday.”

Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “We’re delighted to be able to use the Moderna vaccine for deployment across west Wales.

“We will be using this new vaccine, alongside Oxford Astra-Zeneca, to continue the vaccine roll out to our communities in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

“We are incredibly lucky to have a third vaccine in Wales, with a long shelf life and the ability to be easily transported, to help deliver the vaccination programme to small clinics across our rural communities.”

194,057 people in our three counties have now received their first dose of the vaccine, and 47,087 people are fully vaccinated having received both doses.

The Health Board has offered a first dose of the vaccine to all those in priority groups 5-9 by Sunday 18 April.

Hywel Dda said that to ensure no one is left behind, this week the health board has launched an appeal asking people in groups 1 to 9 who have not been contacted to get in touch to arrange their first vaccine dose.

Second doses are essential for longer term protection, so it’s important that everyone comes forward for their full course when called.

When you will be contacted for your second vaccine dose depends on which vaccine you have received.

A Health Board spokesperson said: “We are asking anyone who received the Pfizer vaccine and has not received a second vaccine appointment yet, to get in touch as soon as possible on 0300 303 8322. Please note our phone lines get terribly busy at times and you may have to wait for the call to be answered.

“We aim to complete all second Pfizer vaccine doses by week commencing Monday 12 April.

“To check which vaccine you received, look at the card given to you when you received your first vaccine. It will say if you received either the Pfizer BioNtech
vaccine, or the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

“If you received a first vaccine dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, we politely ask that you do not contact your GP practice or health board at this time to ask about a second vaccine appointment. You will be contacted when it is your turn for a second dose – we are calling those who received a Pfizer first dose at this time.

“Care home residents, people aged over 80 and all other priority groups who have received the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine at the GP surgery will be contacted between 11 to 12 weeks following their first vaccine with an appointment time.”

The Health Board says that confidence is building around the effectiveness of the vaccines. Emerging evidence is clear on the impact of the vaccine in preventing severe disease and hospitalisation. That is now playing out in admissions to our hospitals, and thankfully, numbers of deaths from coronavirus being reported.

UK and EU regulators have also been clear about the safety of the vaccines. The benefits of vaccination outweigh any possible risks. All three vaccines are both safe and effective.

Continue Reading
News13 hours ago

Police plan to deter badly behaved youths from gathering in Tenby

POLICE in Tenby responded to community concerns over antisocial behaviour and groups of between 15-20 youths gathering and clashing over...

News1 day ago

Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, dies aged 99

The Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s ‘strength and stay’ for 73 years, has died aged 99. Prince Philip’s health had...

Health1 day ago

Covid-19 restriction relaxations in Wales brought forward

THE WELSH GOVERNMENT will be accelerating elements of its programme to relax Covid-19 restrictions as cases of new infections continue...

News2 days ago

Inquest into death of Judith Rhead adjourned pending murder inquiry outcome

THE INQUEST into the death of a murdered Pembroke Dock woman was opened and then adjourned on Thursday (Apr 8.)...

News2 days ago

Jail over wounding and chisel charges

A PEMBROKE DOCK man convicted of wounding with intent, and possession of a chisel in a public place, has been...

News2 days ago

Lola’s inquest adjourned due to police investigation

THE inquest into the death of local toddler Lola James who tragically died after sustaining a severe head injury was...

News3 days ago

Where’s Wally: Has Tenby Walrus disappeared for a quiet life?

TENBY’S most famous visitor, Wally The Walrus, has disappeared after being repeatedly disturbed by members of the public getting too...

News3 days ago

Weatherman Walking TV series visits Pembrokeshire

DEREK BROCKWAY is back exploring Wales’ coast and in the second episode of the new series of Weatherman Walking: The...

News4 days ago

RNAD Trecwn could be ‘ticking time bomb’ says Greenpeace

BUILT just before World War II RNAD Trecwn, during its working life, was used to store and distribute various munitions...

News4 days ago

Valero shutdown contractors ‘put at risk’

THE HERALD has been contacted by employees at a local firm working at a local oil refinery have been told...

Popular This Week