Coronavirus: updates

COVID-19 / CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Update for parents and family updated 25th June 2020

Visiting Active Prospects services
Now that the threat level has been reduced and the lockdown conditions are being eased, we’ve decided that it is safe to allow visits to people who live in our residential or supported living services – albeit with restrictions. We’ve summarised the new arrangements below, and you can click through to our website if you’d like more detail.

Visiting people who live in our residential and shared support services
The risks of spreading the virus within residential and shared support services are far higher than in single person services. For that reason, we’re still having to place some restrictions on visits to these services. However, there are several options open to you if you wish to visit a friend or relative:

  • Garden visits: you can arrange a socially-distanced meet-up in the garden of our services. We’ll provide hand sanitiser, masks, and sterilise any cups used for refreshments.
  • Drive-through visits: you can visit a service by car, and we will arrange for your loved one to sit at a safe distance so they can talk to you through your open car window. It may be possible for us to arrange a drive-through visit to your home – please contact your friend/relative’s service to discuss.
  • Window visits: at an agreed time, your loved one would be helped to one of the service window areas so they can talk to you through the open window (at a distance of at least 2 metres). For those who may be shielding or at higher risk, portable phone handsets can be used so the window can stay closed.

There are a few restrictions we’d like you to bear in mind before and during your visit:

  • Please arrange all visits in advance with us (with a minimum of four hours’ notice), as we can only host one visit to a service at any one time.
  • Only two people can visit at any one time and they must be from the same household.
  • Visits will be for a maximum of 2 hours, as we need to allow time for cleaning.
  • We will provide masks and hand-sanitiser. We can’t allow cotton or homemade masks, as they don’t provide adequate protection.
  • Visitors cannot hug or touch their loved ones (unless end of life care or bed bound). We understand that this is very difficult for everyone, but it is necessary to protect everybody who lives in the service.
  • You’re welcome to bring gifts, but please be aware that we do need to isolate the gifts for 72 hours. To avoid upset, you can give the gifts to the team before visiting if you wish.

Visiting people who live on their own
If you’d like to visit a loved one who lives on their own but lacks capacity, we’ll need to carry out a risk assessment before a visit can be arranged.

If a visit can be arranged, please bear in mind the following:

  • Where possible, visits should take place outdoors (e.g. in a garden or park).
  • Where a visitor is a part of their loved one’s ‘social bubble’, a visit can take place indoors. We’ll need to take precautions around handling objects, using toilets etc.
  • If people live alone but in a block of flats with communal space, we can’t allow visitors to go into communal spaces such as lounges, offices or kitchens.
  • Where possible, please try to socially distance. This might not always be possible with some individuals, so where you do touch or show affection to your loved one, please wash your hands before and after.
  • Please limit the numbers of visitors to a maximum of 2 from the same household.
  • All visits need to be pre-booked so the staff can prepare and clean.
  • Before visiting, you’ll be asked to confirm you’ve been following the government’s guidance around social distancing, and you’ve not used public transport for at least 7 days.

Don’t forget that if you’re not able to visit in person, we can arrange a virtual visit 24/7. This can be done via any of the main remote access apps such as Skype, FaceTime or Zoom, or by telephone. Each service has Amazon spots which can also be used to talk and see each other.

Update for parents and family updated 18th May 2020

We are doing our very best to keep your relatives as safe as possible, whilst trying to maintain their quality of life. At the time of writing, we still have no confirmed cases of Covid-19 among people we support, but we know there’s no room for complacency.

The health of your relatives
Although the government has made the first steps towards lifting the lockdown, we want to reassure you that we will continue with the same infection control processes which have served us well so far. Our number one priority, as it has always been, is the safety of your relatives and we will continue to keep the strict measures in place to protect them as best we can. The measures include maintaining safe distancing as much as possible, keeping up regular deep cleaning of properties, and encouraging everyone to wash their hands frequently.

For the time being, we will have to continue to limit non-essential visits to our services, but we are looking at ways in which we can reintroduce visits that don’t risk spreading the virus within our services. Our service managers will speak directly with family members to arrange this when it is ok to do so and explain what measures will be in place.

We can still help to arrange a Zoom or Facetime call with your relative. A few families have done this and it has been great to see people we support being lifted by seeing their family or friends. Simply get in contact with your relative’s service manager or a member of the support team and they will help to arrange this.

We are trying to find ways to lift people’s spirits and do something fun. VE Day was the perfect opportunity for many of us to enjoy a fantastic day celebrating in true traditional style. Our teams went above and beyond to make it special, with many enjoying garden parties with drinks, scones, and party food. There are some photos below of the day.

Testing
We now have much easier access to testing when we need it. If any staff member or person we support shows potential Covid-19 symptoms, we are able to get everyone in that service tested. If anyone shows symptoms, we have strict self-isolation processes that we put in place to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. Access to testing means that where a test comes back as negative, we can reduce the self-isolation period.

PPE
We still have enough personal protective equipment to last us for over a month. The government’s guidelines on the use of PPE in the care sector have been changing regularly, so we feel it’s prudent to continue to source PPE where we can. All our teams are fully trained on the importance of PPE and how to correctly use it.

Update for parents and family updated 30th April 2020

We hope that you are all continuing to keep well during the pandemic. We are writing to you again to update you on the latest at Active Prospects and to share advice that we feel might be helpful at this uncertain time.

We wish to reassure you once more that our priority has always been, and will always be, the safety and wellbeing of people we support. We are doing our upmost to protect the most vulnerable people we support and to maintain quality of life for everyone.

The health of your relatives
At the time of writing, we still have no confirmed cases of Covid-19 among people we support. We are doing our best to keep it this way, by maintaining safe distancing as much as possible, and keeping up regular deep cleaning of properties and encouraging everyone to wash their hands frequently. We have however had around 10 cases among staff members (either confirmed or highly likely). All staff are self-isolating as soon as they show symptoms, and won’t return to work until they have been tested.

There is a lot of speculation at the moment about when the lockdown measures may be eased, but we’re working on the assumption that some level of restrictions will be in place for many months. For the time being, we will have to continue to restrict all non-essential visits to all of our services.

Whilst you sadly cannot visit your loved ones at this time, we can help you to arrange a call or even use apps such as Zoom or FaceTime to have a conversation or to see your relative. Although this might not be as good as meeting in person, it will still be beneficial for everyone’s mental wellbeing to keep in contact through ways we can at this time. Simply get in contact with your relative’s service manager or a member of the support team and they will help to facilitate this.

We updated you recently about a recent grant from the Surrey Community Fund, which we used to purchase boxes of activities to help keep people occupied during the lockdown. The boxes were a huge success and Lynsey Way, our Clinical Lead, has been putting together some new boxes filled with different activities to help to entertain people and boost their emotional health.

Testing
We are pleased to say that testing is now available for all our staff and people we support, which is a good step forward and puts us in a better position. Staff are aware of the testing procedure and will be there to support anyone we support who may be concerned about symptoms or wish to have a test.

PPE
We currently have enough personal protective equipment to last us for over a month. The government’s guidelines on the use of PPE in the care sector have been changing regularly, so we feel it’s prudent to continue to source PPE where we can.

Update for parents and family updated 17th April 2020

We hope that you are all keeping well in these strange and unsettling times! We are writing to let you know how things are going at Active Prospects and to share recent advice from the government and NHS England, and to reassure you that we are doing our upmost to protect the most vulnerable people we support and to maintain quality of life for everyone.

Social distancing
We have continued to limit all non-essential visitors to services. The only visitors attending are health professionals completing necessary treatments and staff providing care and support. To minimise the risks further we have provided all staff with taxi or a lift to work, to avoid any use of public transport. We are also providing food shopping from a team dedicated to shopping and deliveries to the door, or using online food delivery where we can. This limits the staff providing care having to travel to or go into supermarkets. We have a very limited number of staff moving between services and are able to track where they go. We have several new policies in place and training for all staff on Covid-19 and keeping themselves and the people we support safe.

Shielding
A few individuals have received letters from the government identifying them as requiring shielding. This means that they are advised not to leave the house for 12 weeks and that staff working with them are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise the risk of spreading the virus in the service. We have provided all PPE to these services.

The health of your relatives
We have no cases of people we support being unwell with symptoms of the virus to report at this time. We are working very hard to keep it this way, with the regular deep cleaning of properties and encouraging everyone to wash their hands frequently.  One of our major concerns has been keeping everyone engaged and busy whilst their normal routines have been so severely limited. This can have a real impact on wellbeing and mental health. To try and address this we have been given a grant from the Surrey Community Fund, and have purchased a range of activities and resources. We are distributing these in activity boxes every fortnight. These have included games, craft projects, puzzles, and word games, DVD’s for film nights, music and movement kits, garden kits, and exercise ideas. Everyone seems to have enjoyed the boxes and we have had some lovely messages from people saying that these have helped them smile in a difficult time.  We have also started a private Facebook group for people we support, to help them stay connected and have shared a large number of online classes, virtual tea and chat services, and concerts, etc. We have also shared a number of resources that help to explain Covid-19, social distancing, isolation and the use of PPE.

Staffing levels
This has been a challenge! With staff required to isolate for 14 days if a member of their household becomes unwell, a lack of testing for social care staff, the loss of agency staff and children off school, it has required creativity and problem solving to keep staffing levels stable. The senior management team, Director of Care and Support and CEO have all been pitching in to provide cover in some services. We want to reassure families that we have managed to stay on top of staffing levels so far with the help of our extremely dedicated staff who are going the extra mile every day. This will now become much easier with the news that social care staff can now access testing facilities in Surrey, which will reduce the number of staff in isolation that needn’t be. Some examples of this are shared in our Stars of the Week:

Preparing for potential hospital admissions
We know there has been a lot of concern about what would happen if your relative were to require hospital admission. There has been a lot of stories on social media and the news about people with disabilities being disadvantaged in terms of priority for treatment. We have kept a really close eye on this, and have held discussions with other providers, CQC and our health and social care colleagues. The problem as we understand it is that hospital staff and paramedics were using an assessment scale called The Clinical Frailty Scale to assess the likely effectiveness of hospital treatments for each patient. Due to disabilities and underlying health conditions, the people we support would naturally score higher on this scale in their usual well state. This was a real concern because it would mean that people may not be admitted or given priority for medical assistance. However, we want to reassure families that this has been addressed by NHS England now, who have clearly directed all hospitals and hospital staff that the clinical frailty scale is not to be used to assess people with disabilities or autism. We have given all our services copies of this mandate and it will be shared with any paramedic or health team should a person we support become unwell.

We have also created a short one-page health profile that gives very clear concise information about each person we support, including their usual baseline, to aid decision making in hospital settings. We have updated hospital and care passports and have prepared these in packs should anyone need to be admitted.
We are also sure there has been concern about stories of people with disabilities being admitted to the hospital without any support. We would like to reassure all families that this has also been revised by NHS England and is no longer the case for people with disabilities and autism or severe mental health concerns, a staff member will be able to go with them and provide some support to the nursing teams. We would also like to reassure you that at end of life care, we would be able to allow visitors with our guidance.

Thank you for all of your support and understanding during the last 6 weeks. We wish you all the very best, hope you are all well and look forward to seeing you visiting your relatives again soon. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the relevant service manager.

Update for parents and family updated 26th March 2020

Despite a significant impact on staff numbers, we are still maintaining support levels in our residential and support living services. We have robust infection control procedures in place, and are doing our absolute utmost to keep people safe. Obviously it is good news that there has been no outbreak of the virus in any of our services to date, but we expect the coming weeks to be even more challenging. Should there be a case within a service, we have policies in place to reduce the risk of other residents or staff becoming infected.

Our staff are acutely aware of the need for stringent infection control both whilst at work, but also when they are at home and on their journey to and from work. We are helping staff to avoid having to use public transport to get to and from work, by paying for taxis and arranging lifts.

As many of the people we support are particularly at risk from the effects of the virus, we were restricting movements for more than a week before the government’s announcement of the partial lockdown. These restrictions go against our values of supporting people to lead aspiring lives, but clearly in these exceptional circumstances we have had to take extra precautions. To mitigate against the frustration and boredom of being stuck inside properties all day, we have made additional efforts to lead positive activities within services. Activity boxes are being distributed to each services, with ideas and resources to keep people entertained. We are also making good use of our gardens during this period of good weather.

Some of you have asked if there is anything you can do to help. Sadly, avoiding non-essential visits is one way in which you can help to reduce the spread – thank you to everyone for your patience so far. If you would like support from the service to help you to speak to your loved one by phone or video call, please speak to the service in the first instance.

Other ways in which you can help are:

  • send letters or cards (we will make sure these are suitably sanitised before sharing with people);
  • email photos or video messages;
  • send treats, such as bath bombs, seeds for planting, house plants etc;

We will continue to keep you informed, and if you have any specific questions which can’t be answered by your relative’s service, please feel free to get in touch. If you would prefer to receive email communication on our latest updates, please email your name and email address to louise.launchbury@activeprospects.org.uk

Update for parents and family updated 16th March 2020

Following the government’s updated advice of 16 March 2020, sadly we will no longer be able to accept visitors at any of our services which support either (a) residents aged over 70 or (b) residents with underlying health conditions. If you are unsure whether the service you would like to visit has any residents in those categories, please contact the service by telephone or email.

We appreciate this will be unwelcome news for many, but we have the safety and best interests of the people we support at heart. In the meantime, we will do our best to help you to stay in touch with loved ones via other means, such as telephone, video calls etc.

If you have any questions about how Active Prospects is responding to the coronavirus, please contact us at info@activeprospects.org.uk

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