The use of face coverings when coming to hospital at Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust
People infected with COVID-19 can have very mild or no respiratory symptoms (asymptomatic) and can transmit the virus to others without being aware of it.
In line with recent recommendations from the World Health Organisation, we are introducing new measures at NCH&C to keep visitors, patients, and staff safe.
From Monday 15 June 2020 you will need to wear a face covering when you come to hospital as a visitor or outpatient.
What does this mean for me?
We can all play a role in reducing the spread of coronavirus and keeping our hospitals safe. If you are coming to hospital as a visitor or for planned outpatient care, it is important that you wear a face covering at all times. This is for your safety and the safety of other patients and staff.
Face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade, and advice on how to wear and make one can be found on the government website. Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are also acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose.
We are asking that you plan in advance and bring a face covering with you whenever possible, but if you do not have one available when you come to hospital, please see a member of staff on arrival and we will provide you with one.
If you are currently shielding and have been provided with a surgical face mask for your appointments, please continue to use this. If you have not been provided with a surgical face mask, you should wear a face covering.
For some people, wearing a face covering may be difficult due to physical or mental health conditions. In these instances, other measures will be considered on a case by case basis, for example timed appointments and being seen immediately on arrival.
If you are a deaf or hearing impaired, our staff have a range of communication options to ensure that they can communicate effectively with you. This might include the use of clear masks where possible, as well as visual aids such as writing things down, speech to text apps and sign language.
All visitors will be expected to comply with existing social distancing and hand hygiene measures in addition to the face coverings while in the hospital setting.
Where do I go for more information?
If you have further questions regarding the changes we have made across the trust, please speak to a member of staff or contact our Patient advice and liaison service (PALS).
Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms
Please do not attend your NCH&C appointment or come to any of our sites if you have coronavirus symptoms. Please stay indoors and avoid contact with others. You can call us to rearrange your appointment for when you are well enough to attend.
The national guidance is to stay at home (self-isolate) for seven days if you have the following symptoms:
- a high temperature (above 37.8 degrees)
- a new continuous cough
Our services are running as usual and you should continue to attend your appointment as normal and as appropriate if you are well enough and have not got a coronavirus symptoms.
The NHS and Public Health England are extremely well prepared for outbreaks of new infectious diseases. The NHS has put in place measures to ensure the safety of all patients and NHS staff while also ensuring services are available to the public as normal.
Visiting guidance for NCH&C community inpatient units
In line with the Government’s isolation rules announced on Monday 23 March, we have suspended visiting with immediate effect. To help reduce the spread of infection, we ask that you please stay at home.
Exceptional circumstances where one visitor – an immediate family member or carer – will be permitted to visit our wards are:
- The patient you wish to visit is receiving end-of-life care
- You are a parent or appropriate adult visiting your child
We know it is important for our patients to keep in contact with family and friends and will support them where possible to make use of other ways to stay in touch. We acknowledge this is a challenging time, and all of us at NCH&C thank you for playing your part in keeping our patients, staff and community safe.
Norfolk Community Resilience during COVID-19
Norfolk is a community, and many in our society will require support during this challenging time.
Some people will already have received letters from the NHS asking them to contact a national helpline so support can be arranged. It is essential that we shield these extremely vulnerable people from the virus, and make mechanisms available to allow them to protect themselves by staying at home.
We are also aware that this list will not identify all people in our communities that need assistance, and urge anyone who needs support to make themselves known.
Therefore, if you are vulnerable (see Government advice on vulnerability) or are struggling to get food or prescriptions because you are self-isolating, please contact 0344 800 8020 or visit the Norfolk County Council website. This line will be open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and at weekends 10am-4pm.
While leaving your house to buy essential food items is currently permissible under the Government’s guidance on social distancing, we strongly encourage all those in extremely vulnerable groups to stay at home.
The Norfolk Community Directory is being updated regularly with information about food provision and how to access it, so please do visit our page if you require further information or support on how you can keep yourself fed and safe.
Some people will also require access to vital medication or health advice during, or due to, the COVID-19 outbreak. Please click here to access vital information about keeping yourself well.
We are fortunate to have been contacted by many conscientious citizens wishing to volunteer their time and services during this challenging time.
Voluntary Norfolk, Momentum and Community Action Norfolk are working with local councils and health providers to recruit volunteers – please visit Voluntary Norfolk to see how you could get involved.