What the new changes in COVID restrictions mean for us
A high number of our service users and a significant proportion of our staff are in higher risk groups in relation to the impact of COVID infection. While the general restrictions for the public may be relaxing, our legal and ethical duties to protect you and our service users do not disappear.
With the virus again spreading at speed, self-isolation rules still in place, and a general shortage of new staff, we cannot afford to have high levels of absence as we go into the summer – the continuity of services depends on you and your colleagues keeping well and at work.
In view of the above, we have taken the difficult decision that there will be very little change at this stage in terms of how we ensure COVID safety at work:
PPE and infection control in care delivery
There are no changes planned in the government guidance on infection control and the use of PPE in care services and no changes to our policies at this time. Care workers and other front-line staff must continue to:
– Practice regular handwashing and use face masks, gloves and aprons whilst delivering care;
– Wear masks when sharing vehicles travelling between service users’ homes;
– Undertake routine lateral flow and PCR testing (both of which remain free to care staff) as directed by management;
– Notify their manager of their vaccine status;
– Wear a mask or face covering when they visit the office.
PPE in live-in care
There is a slight change on the guidance on PPE in live-in care services as Public Health England has updated its guidance on PPE for homecare in England to include a new section on live-in care (here).
Managers who are delivering live-in care should read the whole document, but a key point is that the guidance specifies that care workers living with a service user for long periods will be considered part of the household and as such will not need to wear PPE whilst doing domestic duties unless anyone in the household is known to have COVID-19 or is displaying symptoms.
PPE must still be worn for personal care, however, and live-in care workers are subject to the same rules on self-isolation as everyone else in the event that they develop symptoms or test positive for the virus.
COVID-Secure practices in offices
Managers must review their COVID-Secure office risk assessment (seeking assistance from firstname.lastname@example.org as required) to ensure that they remain up to date and fit for purpose. Staff in offices must continue to:
– Practice regular handwashing and cleaning regimes;
– Maintain social distancing – (social distancing in training rooms may now be reduced to “1m+” providing trainees are wearing a face covering and other control measures, such as fully open windows are in place);
– Wear a face covering when sharing a workspace with others;
– Observe all other risk control measures, such as ventilation.
- Managers must continue to keep collecting and submitting their COVID-19 data, both internally and externally as appropriate, and including information on vaccine uptake. However, please note that managers in support services (i.e. locations other than branches and Extra Care sites) are not required to maintain vaccination data on their staff.
- All staff must continue to observe the rules on self-isolation if they have COVID-19 symptoms, test positive, or are otherwise directed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. (This requirement is set to change in mid-August for those that are double-vaccinated).
We echo the words of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in relation to individual responsibility. We can impose policies and rules at work, but we cannot control what you do in your own time. However, we would remind you that if you work in a role that means you will be coming into contact with people who may be unvaccinated or otherwise particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, as most of you do, you have a duty as a citizen to act responsibly to protect others. We urge you, in every aspect of your life, to:
- Be sensible and risk-aware;
- Get fully vaccinated and take advantage of regular free testing;
- Avoid situations and places where large numbers of people are gathering without precautions, especially indoors, and consider continuing to wear a face covering in such spaces and on public transport;
- Respect the fact that many people are still frightened about the prospects of catching the virus.
As ever, we will keep all the above under review and let you know if and when policies change.
Travel restrictions and quarantine – a reminder
From 4am on 19th July, the government is dropping its recommendation against travel to amber list countries. Arrivals who have been fully vaccinated with an NHS-administered vaccine in the UK (plus 14 days to allow for the vaccine to become effective), or are on a formally approved UK vaccine clinical trial, returning to England from amber list countries will no longer need to quarantine.
Passengers will need to provide proof of their vaccination status to travel carriers in advance of travel. Pre-departure testing, and day 2 (PCR) testing measures are to remain. Children under the age of 18 will be exempt from quarantine on returning to England from amber countries.
We urge everyone considering overseas travel at present to carefully consider the risks and to plan accordingly, and to be reminded of our policy on self- isolation following travel see below.
Rules on self-isolation following travel
Operations and Central Support Teams
If you travel to a country where you are required to self-isolate upon return and you are able to work from home, you may do so for the required period of quarantine. However, if you test positive for COVID-19 during this period of isolation and you are unable to work, then our SSP policy will apply.
If you are required to self-isolate upon return and you are unable to carry out your role from home, then your period of isolation should be taken as annual leave, or unpaid leave. However, if you test positive for COVID-19 during this period of isolation and you are unable to work, then our SSP policy will apply.
Care workers required to self-isolate upon return should take annual leave, or unpaid leave for the required period of self-isolation. However, if they test positive for COVID-19 during this period of isolation and they are unable to work, then our SSP policy will apply.
Welcome to our new Director of Complex Care, Jonathan Byrd
This week we welcome Jonathan Byrd to the City & County family. Jonathan will be leading the team at our recently formed complex care operating division.
Aligning our complex care businesses to better support our customers and frontline services – as well as set us up for future growth – has meant looking at the structure of the support functions across all of our brands and identifying changes that will make the most of our shared experience and skills. We’re thrilled that Jonathan will be on board to oversee these improvements as Director of Complex Care.
Jonathan’s last role was with Ramsay Healthcare UK where, as Group Projects Director, he led on major strategic business transformation projects including acquisitions and corporate reputational risk. With over 30 years’ experience in healthcare, Jonathan’s knowledge of our sector will be vital in the shaping of the Complex Care Division. Welcome Jonathan!
Podcast part two – CQC strategy 2021
Last week, we provided you with a link to Anthony Collins Solicitors’ podcast on the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) new strategy for how it regulates health and social care in England.
You can now listen to part two here.
The first part is also still available here
We’ve been awarded a platform agreement for Homecare, Respite and Sitting services as Custom Care – Cannock, as part of the Staffordshire County Council contract.
Thank you to Nicky Tucker and Ellie Cross, and everyone involved in the bid for their work securing it.
We’ve also been successful with the same platform agreement for Homecare with HSG – Stoke on Trent with Staffordshire County Council. Thanks to everyone involved for their great work on this bid, with special mentions to Helen Dale, David Percox and Cat Starr for their time and effort.
Paul Kershaw, our North West region Training Officer, has accepted an offer from the Greater Manchester Police Inspector and Mayor Andy Burnham to be part of the newly formed Independent Community Scrutiny Panel Committee (ICSP.)
This voluntary role will scrutinise Greater Manchester Police’s stop and search processes and powers with the Committee’s findings feeding into the Force’s Equality and Diversity policy. Well done Paul!
Wonderful Wembley photos
Sadly for England fans, it didn’t come home, but our teams still made the most of England’s appearance in the final of the Euros.
One of our Regional Managers, Juliana Inegbese, let us know about how the service users at Bristol Court in Hounslow enjoyed the match. Juliana told us that they all had a fabulous time – they certainly look like they are enjoying themselves.
Karen Stevenson, our Accounts Administrator, also told us about her her weekend in Wembley.
Karen and her son Ben were lucky enough to get tickets for the Final last Sunday and they decided to make a weekend of it. Karen, who is a steward at Derby County Football Club, was taken aback by the positive atmosphere. Karen explains, ‘….for all the bad publicity for various reasons, there was plenty of good and beautiful, amazing people on and off the pitch.’