COVID19 Coronavirus update

Coronavirus update - last updated 20 April 2020

Following advice from the Government on 27 March, we took the decision to close our offices until further notice. We will continue to offer as full a customer service as possible via our local number 0345 60 100 30, online chat, our website and email addresses.

Please note that we use the same online chat solution as many NHS trusts and as such, our online chat service is working intermittently at times due to the NHS service understandably being prioritised.

Throughout this difficult period, keeping our residents, staff and volunteers safe is our primary concern. With this in mind, we ask everyone to read and follow the subsequent advice and recommendations before visiting any of our locations

The COVID-19 situation is a fast changing and we will continue to monitor government advice and apply these recommendations. We are therefore taking the following steps to protect our communities, and we ask for your support and co-operation: 

 

Extra Care Services.

  • Visitors - We will no longer be allowing visitors into locations with the exception of emergency services, or NHS professionals delivering essential care.
  • Isolation - We will be asking residents to remain on site this means that they should not go beyond the grounds of the location unless in emergency circumstances.  We are also strongly encouraging residents to observe social distancing within the location. Unfortunately some residents are ignoring this advice and as a result we have taken the decision to lock the front door so that we can better manage and be aware of people who need to leave the service. Anyone who leaves the building will be supervised to sanitise their hands and escorted to their flat where we expect them to self-isolate for at least 7 days after each time they leave the service.
  • Activities - we will endeavour to provide activities and exercise to residents providing that social distancing is applied and that the resident has been self-isolating within the service. We are investing in video conference technology to support our residents to stay connected with friends and families.
  • Deliveries – We will not allow people making deliveries into the building. Systems for the delivery and collection of food and other essential items beyond the front door of the location will be managed locally. We are more than happy to arrange to collect items from the front door and ensure these are passed onto the recipient.
  • Repairs and Maintenance  – In locations where we are landlord contractors and our own maintenance teams will only be completing emergency repairs and life critical servicing. Residents may continue to report all repairs in the usual way, but only emergency repairs will be processed; non-emergency repairs will be recorded but completion will only be arranged once restrictions around COVID-19 are lifted.
  • Hospital discharges: Where a resident has been admitted to hospital and is considered fit to return home we are working with NHS colleagues to safely enable this to happen. An essential requirement is that the person will be tested and isolated in their accommodation for a minimum of 14 days so that we can be sure that they do not have the virus. 
  • Testing: Working together with the NHS and local Councils we are now in a position to be able to test any person that shows symptoms of the virus. This is an important step in allowing us to intelligently manage services and prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Staff: The staff are our hero’s they are working long hours and are dedicated to keeping residents happy, safe and healthy. We have the correct PPE and we are using this as recommended by the government which is when we can’t socially distance and need to provide care, have contact with people who are shielding or we need to assess someone.

     
  • Communication:

Repairs

At this time there is an emergency only service available, these are repairs that cause a health and safety issue or are required to prevent further damage or destruction to the building. For emergency repairs contact Customer Service 0345 60 100 30

 

Gas Safety

We will continue to ensure your gas boilers are safe and gas safety checks and servicing will continue at this time.  Please allow the engineers access to your boiler if your gas servicing is due, we are legally obliged to continue this service.

They will ensure that they wear all the correct protective equipment and maintain the two-metre social distancing from all customers.  We would ask you to do the same and keep your distance from the engineer while the boiler is being serviced.

 

Rent Payments

We have been busy contacting the few remaining tenants who still pay their rent in cash to make alternative arrangements during this time.

We would also ask that you don’t use cheques at this time as this could result in longer delays in crediting your rent account.

Please contact Customer Services or your Housing Officer who will be able to provide bank details to which you can arrange direct payments.

 

Housing Advice and Support

Please keep in touch with your Housing Officer if you have any concerns relating to your home.  They are able to offer help and assistance in applying for Universal Credit to assist with your rent payments.  We understand that many people may have worries about their employment and pay during this time and we are here to help and support you, so please get in touch if you have any concerns.

 

Support with self-isolation

We have contacted all of our customers who are over 70 years old or who we know to have underlying health conditions to check that they have friends and family supporting them during this difficult time.  If we haven’t been in contact and you need some support, please call or email us and we will do our best to help you.

We are sorry that we are unable to offer the full range of services that you are used to and we very much hope to get back up to normal levels of service as soon as possible.  I am sure you understand these are unprecedented times and we are doing all we can to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus and continue to support and care for our customers and tenants.

 

Communal Gardening and Caretaking Service

To ensure that gardens and communal areas are safe for all residents to use, we have taken the decision to commence communal gardening. Please be assured that our gardeners will be taking all the necessary steps to protect themselves and you, our tenants. We would therefore ask that all tenants help us by not approaching our gardeners and following the government guidelines on social distancing.

 

Communal Cleaning Service

The team are running a reduced service to currently only provide sanitising to touch areas within our Sheltered and Extra Care Schemes and, where possible, in general needs communal areas.

If you have any health and safety concerns regarding external or internal communal areas contact Customer Service 0345 60 100 30

 

Where can I find out more information about the Coronavirus?

We are all aware that there is a large amount of information being shared at the moment, both through the traditional media outlets and social media. We would encourage everyone to use the up to date and easy to follow information provided by the UK Government and the NHS on the websites below:

NHS - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ 

UK Government - https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response 

 

I'm feeling anxious about coronavirus and worried about my mental health

It's understandable to be worried about the impact coronavirus may have on you or those you care about. During this difficult time, try to stay calm and follow the official advice from the Government. The charity Mind has information you might find helpful and the Samaritans have also produced a webpage to support people during this period which is available here. Alternatively, they can be emailed on jo@samaritians.org (response time is 24 hours).

 

How to stay connected with family and friends during this time.

Draw on support you might have through your friends, family and other networks during this time. Try to stay in touch with those around you over the phone, by post, or online. Let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine. This is also important in looking after your mental wellbeing and you may find it helpful to talk to them about how you are feeling.

Remember it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust and in doing so you may end up providing support to them too. Or you can use a NHS recommended helpline.

 

I am worried about paying my Rent or charges

If you are worried about paying your rent or charges throughout this challenging period, please call us on 0345 60 100 30 and we will be happy to talk this through with you. The Government have also provided a help page for people who receive benefits and have concerns. This page can be accessed here - https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/