VHA Coronavirus Statement – 4th November 2020
Vision Homes Association is committed to doing everything possible to keep people supported by VHA, staff members and visitors [including trades people and contractors on site] safe during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The health and safety of everyone supported or employed by VHA is always very important to us and especially at this time during which many are anxious and frightened.
We are aware that there is much misinformation about COVID-19 and the pandemic circulating in the media and online and we are working to try to ensure that VHA provides the people it supports and employs with clear guidance and information which is obtained from recognised and trusted sources including:
- Government guidance [www.gov.uk]
- Public Health England
- Local public health teams
- Local authorities in the areas where VHA provides services
- Care Quality Commission
- Shropshire Partners in Care
- Skills for Care
- Hettle Andrews – VHA Health and Safety Consultants
In addition to seeking information and guidance, VHA regularly reports back to several of the bodies listed above to inform them of the needs of the organisation and of the challenges that it is facing, as well as maintaining informal contacts. In this way we work to ensure that the people supported by VHA and its staff will be recognised in local public health planning and have fair and equal access to support and treatment.
VHA supports national data collection through the NHS Capacity Tracker and other relevant data collection or escalation routes. This includes details relating to occupancy, PPE supplies and winter staffing issues.
Another national lockdown has been announced as of November 5th, 2020. The lockdown is initially scheduled to last for four weeks – until December 2nd but this date is reviewable and should infection rates not be significantly reduced thus relieving the building pressures on the NHS it could be extended. Clearly VHA needs to continue to provide its services taking all available measures to keep everyone as safe as possible.
It is of vital importance that each and every one of us plays their part in keeping us all safe and we can do this by ensuring that we follow the guidance that is relevant to us – both in work and out of work. We are all familiar with the current slogan ‘Hands, Face, Space’ that reminds us to wash our hands/use hand gel, use a face covering as appropriate and maintain social distancing. Adopting these measures will help protect not only the people we support and our work colleagues, but also our families and friends. Whilst at work all staff members must follow strict infection control procedures and use the PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] provided as instructed.
We value our personal contacts with you as an important measure of helping you feel reassured and confident with our responses to Coronavirus. We welcome your phone calls and emails, questions and thoughts and hope to be able to respond quickly and effectively. We will always respect confidentiality and share information with others only in matters of protecting their health or safety and will let you know if information needs to be shared.
VHA is aware that pressures on health and social care systems are likely to increase through the winter when the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may be exacerbated by annual winter illnesses including Norovirus and influenza. The organisation is reviewing contingency plans to build resilience for the winter and protect its staff members and the people is supports from such pressures. We will:
- support all staff members to have their annual flu jab
- ensure staff members receive up to date information and training relating to IPC (Infection Prevention and Control). Online learning has become an important tool and is backed up by discussion and observations of practice
- continue to ensure that all relevant Government guidance is implemented and followed
- encourage both symptomatic staff members and symptomatic people supported by VHA can access COVID-19 testing as soon as possible
- review and update business continuity plans for the autumn and winter with workforce resilience a key component
- co-ordinate with local authority and NHS winter planning
- continue to implement the best possible infection prevention and control measures
- continue to ensure good supplies of PPE
- maintain the delivery of core functions of Payroll, HR, Recruitment, Finance and IT to ensure staff teams are fully supported during this time.
VHA’s approach will be informed by relevant national planning, including Adult Social Care: Our COVID-19 Winter Plan 2020 to 2021.
The pandemic presents particular challenges in shared care settings as well as the challenges of helping people we support to understand and follow the guidance. Within staff teams, reflection and evaluation on the guidance and agreeing its implementation alongside the people support by VHA, their families and support workers implementing the guidance helps get it right for everyone.
Using easy read information to keep everyone informed has also been a valuable tool to keep the key messages a priority for all.
Keeping in touch with people to reduce isolation and making the most of everyday in ways that work for them means people are still enjoying life and involved with their wider community.
NHS COVID-19 app
Staff members are encouraged to load and use this app as it is a useful tool in the fight against coronavirus. However, it is important that the app is paused whilst you are at work to minimise the possibility of receiving false positive notifications. Please see the NHS guidance for staff members working in care settings in the link below.
The response of all VHA staff members led by their Management Teams continues to be remarkable. Every staff member continues to approach their work positively whilst managing their own concerns and balancing work and home life.
Sincere thanks to you all, without you the people support by VHA would have a very different and probably difficult experience of life during the pandemic.
Respect for each person’s rights and balancing this with the advice on safety can create complex situations but you are working through it all with the people you support, their families and other professionals.
Further information on Coronavirus
- If you have any concerns about the Coronavirus outbreak, please use the NHS 111 Online service.
- NHS – the best way to wash your hands: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/
- Public Health England: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england
- Public Health Wales: https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/
- Government advice for healthcare professionals and organisations: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance
- Easy read Coronavirus poster by Photosymbols: https://www.photosymbols.com/blogs/news/free-poster
- NHS Common Questions: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/common-questions/