#1 – Monday, 23rd March 2020
As an organisation, we take great pride in being both transparent and open, and this has never been more important than now with the uncertainty that Covid-19 has brought. So, for the duration of the pandemic, we plan to keep staff, residents, clients, families and anyone else who may be interested informed with a regular newsletter.
We want to start by thanking everyone.
Before Covid-19 we knew we had some great staff, but we now know how great. To a person, everyone has offered to work additional shifts or different roles to ensure the homes and homecare service remain covered. Jo Nykiel, who was due to leave at the beginning of April to start her own business, has kindly agreed to stay on for three months to help us past this first phase. Vanessa Wadman, who had already left to start her nurse training, has also offered to help. Between the two of them, we have invaluable support covering pretty much every role in the company.
We have also had outstanding support from the families of our residents and clients, a number of whom have signed up for our Volunteers Team. We felt we were in pretty good shape until the Government announced that whole families would have to go into isolation if one member became symptomatic, and which would make it very hard to predict when staff members would be available. The Volunteers Team will be an invaluable resource in filling these gaps, and which is being put together by Kelly from Priors Mead.
We would also like to recognise the extraordinary effort the whole Management Team is making. They were already a hard-working bunch before Covid-19 came along, and which has not lightened their workload.
They have also faced this considerable challenge with calmness and determination, to their great credit. Last, and definitely not least, our residents and clients seem to be taking all this excitement in their stride; but what should we expect from a generation who grew up in the last war. A wonderful example to us all.
So far we have no symptomatic residents or clients, and we are working very hard to keep it that way. We have six members of staff who are in isolation because they have come into contact with symptomatic people, and who we would like to thank for taking their responsibilities seriously. We have three further members of staff with symptoms that do not indicate Covid-19, and a further one member of staff in isolation with symptoms that may be Covid-19. However, this person works remotely and we do not therefore believe there is any risk of any staff, residents or clients contracting it from her; if indeed she has it. We obviously wish her and the other unwell staff a speedy recovery.
At the heart of our response is our Pandemic Procedure. Covid-19 first came on to our radar on 5th February this year, which meant we could review this in good time, plus check our Emergency and Business Continuity Plans were up to speed; the first required a major overall, whilst the others needed only minor polishing.
Prior to the appearance of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease, our Pandemic Procedure was naturally targeted at the last pandemic, and was therefore of limited relevance. This has therefore been completely rewritten based on Government guidance, and is now in its seventh iteration as this guidance changes to reflect the evolution of the pandemic. As you might expect, the whole Management Team has been superb in reacting to each and every turn to ensure we stay on top of things.
We are currently at Implementation Level Two which means, in addition to various hygiene and other precautions enacted during Implementation Level One, access to the homes has now been limited, and additional precautions are being taken with our HomeCare Clients.
We are acutely aware of the impact this has on everyone and will therefore not keep at this level any longer than is needed, although anticipate this is likely to be for a minimum of 12 weeks. As everyone is probably already aware, to minimise this impact, we have made arrangements for residents, clients and their families to be able to talk and see each other via either Skype, Zoom or Facetime. We also plan to make exceptions in exceptional circumstances, such as if a resident becomes very poorly, or is particularly suffering from being separated from their loved ones.
If anyone would like to see the latest version of the Pandemic Procedure, please email email@example.com. Any suggestions will always be very welcome.
We recognise a key part of our response is increasing our resilience, given that the future path of the
pandemic is uncertain:
- This has included substantially increasing our liquidity so that any fluctuations in cash flow do not distract us from our principal role of caring for our residents and clients;
- Our Executive Team now meets via video-conference on a weekly basis to Risk Assess where we are;
- We have also started the Volunteers Programme, mentioned above;
- We are receiving good support from the CQC, who have suspended inspections for the duration, and are proactively looking to give support;
- We have also lightened our own workload by reducing the demands of our Quality System, save in regard to the Pandemic Procedure which is being audited on a weekly basis;
- We have also made contact with all our Key Suppliers to ensure we continue to receive the support we need, and;
- We are also in the process of issuing all staff with Key Worker Letters so they in turn can get the support they need to keep doing such a great job.
We recognise that, even though we are working very hard to keep on top of the pandemic, the more minds that are working on this issue the better. Therefore, if you have any suggestions as to how we can improve our response, please share them with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a final note, whilst Covid-19 has firmly pulled my wife and me out of any semblance of being non-executive, we are acutely aware that we are not in the UK at this time and feel this deserves some explanation. Sarah was very unwell in the 1990’s, receiving chemotherapy for seven years to treat her Diffuse Scleroderma. Two of the consequences of this are that she has a compromised immune system and does not cope with the British weather very well. Whilst our role during this crisis is to take a strategic overview which, from the Home Office model we are following, is best done from a distance, we never-the-less find our decision to work remotely to be an uncomfortable one which we are constantly reviewing.
Thank you all for your continued support.