ACAS’s practical information on coronavirus is reviewed daily to give access to the most recent updates and common sense advice. It contains detailed information on social distancing and vulnerable workers, updates on working from home, school closures, lay-offs and short-time working as well as advice for employers who have to close workplaces temporarily.
They have some really good advice for employers and employees, including very recent advice about staff carrying over holidays. For those organisations that are having to furlough their staff, ACAS has produced a template draft letter that can be used.
Action Plan for Social Care:
The Department of Health and Social Care has published (15/04/20) COVID-19: our action plan for adult social care. This details how the government will support the adult social care sector in England throughout the coronavirus outbreak. The plan as four pillars:
Advanced Care Planning:
St. Gemma’s and Wakefield Hospice have been working together to develop a virtual training package for care workers on Advance Care Planning (ACP) and conversation skills. On Thursday, 21st May, they ran two live sessions, including a presentation and videos from the education hub leads, followed by an interactive Q&A session with participants.
Aerosol Generating Procedure:
There have been some queries as to what an aerosol generating procedure is. Now NHS guidance is available and Section 8.1 provides a list of what these could be.
App for Care Workers:
A new dedicated app has been launched for the adult social care workforce to support staff through the coronavirus. Care workers get access to guidance, learning resources, discounts and other support all in one place.
Back to School:
The government’s FAQs on 2nd June included the question ‘Is it safe to send my child back to school if we’re shielding?’ The response is interesting for those of us considering how to put together recovery plans for buildings-based day services:
“For the vast majority of children and young people, coronavirus is a mild illness. However, if someone in your household is extremely clinically vulnerable, as set out in the guidance on shielding and protecting people, then your child should only go to school or a childcare setting if stringent social distancing can be followed while they are both there and at home. This may not be possible in the case of young children and older children without the capacity to adhere to the instructions on social distancing. If social distancing rules cannot be followed, those children should be supported to learn or work at home.”
Back to Work:
New guidance was issued by the government on getting people safely back to work on 11th May and there is a gov.uk page about working safely during the coronavirus which has 8 further guides covering a range of different types of work; working in ‘offices and contact centres’ and ‘other people’s homes’ are probably the most applicable to us.
Buildings-Based Services Planning Group:
A group of us is working together to explore how we can share our learning in order to look at getting buildings-based services back up and running at some point in the future. The next meeting of the group is Friday, 5th June. Drop Andy Rawnsley an email if you want to join in.
On 1st June the government updated its guidance on actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from that date. Although this is for an early years setting, there are points that are probably useful to help inform our thinking about how we should plan to move towards a re-set buildings-based offer.
Care Quality Commission (CQC):
Their website has useful local social care news and information. CQC has issued a joint statement of its Chief Inspectors on its regulatory approach, setting out its Emergency Support Framework, during the coronavirus pandemic.
CQC has relaxed registration rules to aid flexibility: “We want to support health and social care providers as they look to increase capacity as part of the ongoing effort to respond to COVID-19.” Read the full update which explains what constitutes a COVID-19 registration and what this means for providers.
Following on from suspending inspections , CQC has now paused sending out requests for the adult social care the PIRs until further notice to relieve the burden on providers. CQC is reviewing PIRs it has already received and will continue to review any further PIRs that are submitted. Therefore, if you are in the process of completing a PIR and would like to continue with this and submit it, please do. For any queries regarding your PIR, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For those who provide regulated services, CQC has a page on their website dedicated to Information for adult social care services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak which includes a YouTube link to a recording of the webinar.
Charities and Social Enterprises:
Good Finance have a useful webpage containing information, resources and tools designed to support charities and social enterprises navigating COVID-19.
If you think the impact of COVID-19 will cause delays in filing your company accounts, you can apply for an automatic and immediate 3 month extension, but you must apply before your filing deadline.
COVID-19 Transmission & Infection Control training:
Health Education England have organised free 2-hour webinar training sessions.
The government has produced updated guidance on care settings, including supported living: COVID-19: guidance for residential care, supported living and home care.
For those of you who run care homes, there is guidance too: Coronavirus (COVID-19): admission and care of people in care homes.
There are some useful tips in Charity Times about keeping our charities safe from cyber attacks during the covid pandemic.
DBS Applications & Barred List Check Service:
New guidance has been issued by the government around free-of-charge DBS applications and a new fast-track Barred List check service in response to COVID-19. This includes information about eligible roles and a helpful flowchart.
CQC has also provided interim guidance on DBS and other recruitment checks.
CQC’s Regulation 16 (death notification) form has been updated to include Coronavirus as a reportable cause of death: “We would like to understand the numbers of deaths that are occurring due to COVID-19, whether suspected or confirmed”.
The Department of Health and Social Care also requires local authorities and social care providers to notify them of any Covid-19 deaths of employees and volunteers in social care. The guidance is applicable to both regulated and non-regulated settings.
100% Digital Leeds has a fund that is available to help organisations deliver digital inclusion to vulnerable and isolated people. Although the application window closed on Friday, 24th April 2020, they are working to secure additional funding so it may be worth checking out.
Digital Social Care have launched a free helpline to support adult social care providers with the rapid uptake in technology necessitated by COVID-19. The helpdesk can support providers on a range of topics including NHSmail, how technology can be used to keep people in contact with friends and family, how technology can be used for recruitment and the implementation of remote consultations with primary and acute care. Alongside answering queries, Digital Social Care will also be collecting feedback from the helpline to collate and share best practice on how technology is being used in the sector. The helpline is available Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0208 133 3430 or email@example.com
Domiciliary Care Guidance:
The new government guidance in respect of working safely in domiciliary care/homecare came out on 27th April and is in line with practice across most social care settings. Of particular note is that the PPE guidance is in line with the position being taken in Leeds and the wearing of masks between visits is worth a detailed read. The guidance was updated on 1st June
Employers Risk Assessments:
The approach Aspire has taken is to have an overarching organisational risk assessment, building specific risk assessments and individual risk assessments for each member of staff. We have posted our word version templates which you are free to use and amend as you see fit:
Ethical Framework for Social Care:
The framework during the Covid-19 crisis can be found here.
Filing of Accounts:
Companies House has given a 3 month extension period to file accounts.
Flow Charts for Staff Returning to Work After Testing:
These flowcharts were published in the week commencing 18th May, but are helpful for both symptomatic and asymptomatic staff who have been tested.
A number of accommodation-based providers are struggling with getting in basic food supplies. We’ve spoken with several supermarkets and they are happy for our staff to join the ‘silver shopper’ hours to get in before the crowds. Staff may use this Critical Key Worker letter template to identify themselves. They may also be required to show the Identifying Critical Key Workers letter issued by Leeds City Council which confirms your organisation’s role as an external provider of health and social care support in Leeds.
NHSX and CQC have been working together to identify and disseminate priority food offers for social care staff. There are a number of offers at retailers including Iceland, Morrisons and Food to Care (one of the discounts on the link is also for unpaid carers). Registered Managers are being contacted individually with more details about the offer from Iceland.
Their website is full of some really useful information.
Funding for VCSEs:
Government guidance about financial support for voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations to respond to coronavirus has been updated and is now all in one place. This includes how to apply for funds for particular types of activities.
The government has extended its worker furlough scheme until October 2020.
Gender Pay Gap:
Central government has suspended reporting for 2019/20 due to the current crisis. (This is only relevant for organisations with more than 250 member of staff.)
Health & Safety Executive (HSE):
The HSE website has helpful information and advice.
Health & Wellbeing for Social Care Staff:
There is new (11th May) guidance from the government providing advice for those working in adult social care on managing our mental health and how employers can take care of the well-being of staff during the coronavirus outbreak.
Health Inequalities Grant Funding:
Funding of up to £450,000 is now available for voluntary and community organisations to help them tackle the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on people’s health. How to apply can be found on the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership website.
A temporary deferral has been announced regarding VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 to help businesses manage their cash flow.
There is also guidance available on claiming back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to Coronavirus (Covid-19).
The government has issued guidance on holiday entitlement and pay during the coronavirus pandemic.
All the government guidance about home care has now been put in one place.
HSE has recently put out some guidance about making sure that employers keep an eye on the impact of home working on their staff.
Impact of Covid-19:
Doing Good Leeds has published its report about the impact of Covid-19 on the third sector in Leeds.
Infection Protection Control:
It is important that all care workers understand the principles of infection prevention and control, and that they continue to work strictly to these requirements. Leeds City Council’s Care Quality Team has an Infection Control and Prevention page where you can find support and guidance. You can also find local information on PPE on the Council’s dedicated webpage.
At Aspire we are happy to sign up your staff – free of charge – to a one hour online Infection Control course via Social Care TV (unless you have loads of staff, in which case it would be good to get costs reimbursed!). The training is aimed at care homes, but the principles are sound even if you are not running a care home. If you want to take up this offer, just get in touch.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has set out it’s regulatory approach during the coronavirus. The Information Commissioner has said that she cannot envisage taking action against a health or care professional clearly trying to act to save lives; ‘you should use your common sense to do the best thing for your service users and people in your care’.
Markel insurers are providing a range of useful information for employers.
Job Retention Scheme:
HMRC has updated the employer guidance and the guidance for employees in line with some of the main queries received. Whilst all the guidance has been refreshed, there is more detailed information on scheme eligibility, further information on how to calculate a claim and clarification on what constitutes wages.
There are free webinars from HMRC on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme covering how to make a claim, the essential information you need, what to do before you make a claim, calculating and processing your claim.
Fascinating data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimating the numbers and characteristics of those who could be considered as potential key workers in the response to the coronavirus.
Kings Fund Bite-sized Guides:
The Covid-19 crisis is placing unprecedented pressure on leaders across the health and care system. To support this community, the King’s Fund has created Leading Through Covid-19, a collection of bite-sized, quick-read practical guides and videos for health and social care leaders. The Kings Fund is adding to the collection every week.
Leading in Difficult Times:
Safe Space online has been recommended to us as a forum for leaders in health and social are who are leading in these difficult times. Mike Chitty and colleagues have a series of online support sessions and, though there is a cost, this is ‘pay as you feel’. Further information and details can be found at eventbrite
Leeds City Council Health & Social Care:
Website useful for local social care news and/or linking to resources for people with learning disabilities. LCC Health and Social Care is also producing daily updates for providers with some really useful information.
Leeds Community Foundation Resilience Fund:
Details of the Resilience Fund can be found here.
Legal Advice for Employers:
The law firm, Chadwick Lawrence, has a number of video clips about issues for employers, including a really straightforward clip on furlough for those in the unenviable position of facing this kind of decision.
Sue at the law firm, Wrigleys, has also shared their webpage which has lots of legal advice for employers with some really helpful advice, particularly their Q&A on the furlough scheme.
– Re-use in Care Homes:
New guidance has been published that means there are certain circumstances in which meds can be re-used. The guidance needs careful reading and is only applicable to hospices and registered care homes.
– Sedatives to Enforce Social Distancing:
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has issued guidance about the inappropriate use of sedative medications to enforce social distancing guidelines when managing vulnerable people during the pandemic who may not understand social distancing.
Mental Capacity Act:
There is some now MCA guidance for the care of people who lack mental capacity in these times. It’s really helpful and should prevent us doing unnecessary DoLS. (You can save time by skipping the text and go straight to reading the flowchart on page 11!)
Mental Health Support for Care Workers:
A wide range of support is available for individuals who work in the care sector looking for mental wellbeing and health support/resources. Should you need immediate support, you can contact round the clock one-to-one mental health support for social care workers:
Mindful Employer Scheme:
We all need to be hardwired to look after the well-being of our staff – they are truly our only asset – and we need to look after each other through this and better times. The Mindful Employer weekly bulletin for 2nd April 2020 is devoted to coronavirus and staff wellbeing.
Mindwell Leeds has a useful coronavirus mental health information hub with resources, videos and information to help people in Leeds take care of their mental health at this challenging time.
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Mindwell Leeds has published a Week of Kindness Planner with downloadable resources with suggestions for each daily focus.
The NHS is opening its secure email facility to organisations across the health and social care sector. (See the documents section for the social care provider NHS mail sign up form.)
There is still a lag between the guidance issued by the government (2/4/20) about PPE usage in health and social care settings (tables 1, 2 and 4 seem to be the most relevant ones for our sector (NB: See updated position on PPE – Leeds Advice below) and the guidance for those of us who provide supported living services where guidance was previously issued.
We have updated our guidance for staff in line with Leeds City Council’s guidance.
North Yorkshire County Council has produced some really clear guidance which they’ve shared with health and social care providers about when to, and when not to, use enhanced PPE (of which sections 5 and 6 are the most pertinent) together with a flowchart. Both are well worth reading by any provider trying to make sense of the national guidance for the range of social care settings in which we all operate.
There is some recent helpful Public Health England guidance on how to work safely in care homes (which is applicable to 24/7 supported living services) and which includes a couple of helpful case examples.
There is also a really good video from Public Health England about how to put on and take off PPE on the gov.uk website. Again this guide for care homes is applicable to supported living services too.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has put a lot of useful information together about the use of PPE in the workplace.
PPE – Leeds Position Statement v.4:
Leeds updated its advice for care homes and community care staff in its position statement issued 14th April 2020. Essentially, the view is that we are in a period of sustained community transition and therefore table 4 of the government guidance (issued 2/4/20) should be followed. This position statement can also be found on the Council’s website together with staff swabbing information and the purchase process (as below).
PPE VAT Window: The Treasury has suspended VAT on the purchase of PPE for the next 3 months, starting 1st May 2020.
PPE 3-step purchase process in Leeds:
Leeds City Council has reconfirmed the 3-step process for ordering PPE:
For those of you who are looking to source reasonably priced PPE with a good quality of service from a local supplier, at Aspire we use BAWA Med. Contact Raj.
PI and QMF submissions:
Leeds City Council have put back the deadline for submission in respect of both the PI and QMF for those organisations which provide accommodation-based services.
Hot on the heels of the merger in February between PSI-Volition and Tenfold, they held their AGM on Thursday, 9th April 2020.
The Health and Safety Executive has produced guidance on instances when Covid-19 will be RIDDOR reportable.
The Local Government Association (LGA) and Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) have issued Frequently Asked Questions in respect of Covid-19 and Safeguarding Adults.
Skills for Care:
There is some very helpful information about training during the pandemic on the Skills for Care website.
Skills for Care have also set up an advice line which is open to all Registered Managers
Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE):
SCIE has a website that is worth visiting for news and information in the world of social care.
Spotting Serious Illness & Sepsis:
Read an overview of spotting serious illness and sepsis on the AHSN Network website. Also, there are two NHS short films explaining the soft signs of deterioration and recognising deterioration with a learning disability.
Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme:
HMRC are offering free webinars on the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Scheme providing an overview of the scheme covering who can claim, when to start paying SSP, employees you can claim for, making a claim, keeping records and more.
Supporting Adults with Learning Disabilities & Autistic Adults:
New government guidance for care staff who support adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults was issued on 24th April 2020. There does not seem to be anything new in the guidance other than it is now all in one place. However, if you follow the links within the supported living guidance, it continues to have advice about not wearing masks when staff and the people supported are not symptomatic!
Testing for COVID-19:
Social care staff can be tested either by self-referral or employer-referral. Guidance has been published about both routes, and we have good feedback, but please do not wait to book slots for staff or adult members of their household who are symptomatic.
There are 2 FAQs about the Coronavirus National Testing Programme:
If you didn’t pick it up in the news, testing is now available to social care staff who are asymptomatic as well as those who are symptomatic.
Leeds City Council and CCG has clarified the current and future position regarding coronavirus testing for the staff and residents of care homes (05/05/2020). “A programme will be rolled out in the next few days to provide access to testing for all staff and residents, regardless of whether they have symptoms of Covid-19. There is no need to do anything as yet because you will be contacted when the programme is launched.
In the meantime, should any residents display Covid-19 symptoms, you should contact your local Health Protection Team in the usual manner. They will support you and organise testing for those symptomatic residents from the point you ring to notify (but not for any residents who become unwell after this point). Should any staff display symptoms, they can access testing through the on-line portal on the gov.uk website.”
Update 10.05.20 – There is now a new portal for testing in care homes though this is yet to be extended to domiciliary care providers.
Care homes are also to benefit from targeted training support, but it is unclear yet as to whether this will be extended to domiciliary care/supported living services.
Initially it seemed clear in this second piece of guidance, that the “guidance does not include health care workers and others working in health and social care settings, who should follow separate guidance“. However, on 31st May, updated guidance made it clear that care workers are not exempt from test and trace. The whole guidance is worth a read, but 4.3 and 4.4 are probably the key points to note.
On 2nd June the guidance was further updated including:
This latest guidance states:
“The NHS Test and Trace Service has been established to minimise community transmission of COVID-19. It is designed to:
Therefore, if you have had close recent contact with someone who has COVID-19, healthcare workers must self-isolate if they NHS test and trace service advises you to do so. Close contact excludes circumstances where PPE is being worn in accordance with current guidance on infection, prevent and control. Refer to risk assessment for staff exposures in the workplace.
Through the Maze:
Website useful for local social care news and/or linking to resources for people with learning disabilities.
You will find all the latest coronavirus guidance on the gov.uk website.
Voluntary Action Leeds:
Another useful website for local social care news and/or linking to resources for people with learning disabilities.
Letter from LCC Adults and Health advising social care providers to identify their critical key workers who may require exemption from some of the restrictions put in place in response to coronavirus.
LCC template letter for use by social care providers for staff identified as critical key workers during the pandemic
Training has been commissioned by Health Education England and information about the training dates that are available can be found here.
NHS-mail sign up form for social care providers
Leeds Mindful Employer Network weekly bulletin (2nd April 2020) packed full of information and resources in respect of coronavirus and staff wellbeing
Public Health England’s poster regarding the identification and management of outbreaks of COVID-19 in care/residential homes
Version 4 of Leeds’ Covid-19 PPE position statement for Care Home and Community Care staff issued 14/04/2020
Globus Healthcare poster
NHS Scotland best practice poster
Department of Health letter about the supply and distribution of PPE
Guidance as at 17th April 2020 at 4pm
Operational guidance for the use of PPE during the Covid-19 response published by North Yorkshire County Council on 13th April 2020
Appendix 1 to the operational guidance for the use of PPE during the Covid-19 response published by North Yorkshire County Council on 13th April 2020
Joint letter from the Department of Health & Social Care and Public Health England providing further information on COVID-19 testing in respect of:
The letter includes an Adult Social Care sector stakeholder Q & A.
Useful information for essential workers about the Coronavirus National Testing Programme – published by HM Government and the NHS.
Useful information about the Coronavirus National Testing Programme for employers supporting essential workers who have coronavirus-like symptoms – published by HM Government and the NHS.
The Department of Health & Social Care has instigated a process for local authorities and social care providers to report deaths from Covid-19 of employees and volunteers. This letter explains the process for information DHSC.
Word version of Aspire’s Organisational Risk Assessment (v.8).
Word version of Aspire’s Covid-19 secure site specific risk assessment undertaken for Westfield Chambers (dated 18th May 2020).
Example photos to accompany Aspire’s Covid-19 Secure Site Specific Risk Assessment.
Aspire example Covid-19 individual staff member wellbeing risk assessment form.