The UK government has advised that everyone in the UK should now avoid “non-essential” travel and contact with others to fight coronavirus. The current advice is to avoid non-essential contact with others, including going to sporting events, pubs, clubs, theatres and social venues.
Our response to this is documented below and these decisions taken below have been taken in the interests of our supported people, staff and their families. They are also in alignment with actions taken by Public Health England, Department of Health (Doh) and the NHS and other care settings.
We will continue to review and monitor government advice and will provide detailed updates on the impact to our services in the coming weeks. We appreciate that the current situation will undoubtedly place everyone in a difficult situation and we are working with Public Health England and the government advice on the best way to help alleviate the situation and will update you as plans evolve.
The main messages are:
- if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 daysfrom when your symptoms started.
- if you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill
- it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
- for anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.
At Risk groups
The isolation guidance is particularly important for people who:
- are 70 or over
- have a long-term condition
- are pregnant
- have a weakened immune system
Anyone with a higher risk from viruses such as cold or flu should take sensible steps to reduce the risk of picking up infections. These steps include:
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- always wash your hands when you get home or into work
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
- use the internet to seek advice in the first instance, if you do not have access to the internet or your symptoms are severe DO NOT go to the GP or A&E, instead call 111 or 999 for advice
Specific Measures taken to implement this advice
As a result of the advice we are putting in place a number of further measures to minimise the risks of spreading the virus – these will all be reviewed if further information becomes available or there is a change in advice from Public Health England or the Government
Social distancing advice
Social distancing measures (as defined by Public Health England as spending more than 15 minutes and within a 2-metre distance talking to someone) are now advised not only if we test positive or have symptoms, but in day to day life.
We ask staff to think about their actions in their private lives to protect themselves, their families, their colleagues and ultimately the people we support.
Services should think about measures they can take to implement social distancing but we are instructing services to:
- suspend all outdoor group activity until further notice
- limit visits to supermarkets/shops – these may be inevitable if supplies cannot be obtained from on-line suppliers but this should be by staff only
- stop all non-essential visitors to the service – family members can join their loved ones for a walk, or technology such as Facetime / Skype can be used where possible
All these measures will be reviewed against any change in advice.
Other Actions being taken
- office administration / finance and HR staff will work from home or spend limited time in the office if they need to pick something up or undertake a critical task that requires them to attend the office
- The Registered Manager Teams will work on alternate days to limit their contact in head office
- Calls to head office will be diverted to a mobile / answer machine if unanswered, messages will be picked up by the admin staff
- a number of Whatsapp groups have been set up to facilitate communication between:
- The Registered Manager and his management team
- The Administration, finance and HR teams
- The COVID-19 response co-ordination team
- All staff should direct queries to their managers, email addresses for the various teams will be displayed in the service
- A central register with all staff who are self-isolating and the end of their isolation period will be maintained
- Managers will be creating a picture of their teams so that any team that are at risk can be identified
- Managers will talk to all staff who staff annual leave as this may need to be rescinded
- Anyone isolating will have the period paid as SSP – it cannot be classed as annual leave
Overview of SSP for time of due to COVID-19
You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
If you are self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can claim SSP. You must be eligible for SSP.
You need to qualify for SSP and will be paid from the first day.