As a second national lockdown commences, at Transform Housing & Support we are more committed than ever to providing clients with exceptional levels of care and support to enable them to live independent and fulfilling lives.
The most important thing we would like all clients, colleagues, trustees, commissioners, patrons, ambassadors and stakeholders to know at this point is that – as has been the case since the start of the coronavirus pandemic – all our services are operating and we are running them in line with the latest Government guidelines.
As a charity and housing association, our activities are important – and never more so than now. We would like to assure you that during the second wave, and any/all future Covid-19 crises, we will be continuing to work exceptionally hard to ensure clients get the assistance they need, while also protecting the health and wellbeing of clients and colleagues.
Why is it important for Transform to still deliver services during Covid-19?
During the coronavirus pandemic, we know that the support we provide is proving to be absolutely critical.
Customers of care services are largely over 70 and have multiple health challenges. They often need support with activities like shopping, meal preparation and household administration as well as personal care such as bathing and administering of medication. Supported housing clients are in the main socially excluded and homeless. Many are battling mental health issues and have little family support.
For these reasons, we are committed to continuing to provide these essential services during these challenging times to enable clients to gain their independence. We know that these are difficult and stressful circumstances and we are mindful of supporting mental and physical health and wellbeing.
How is Transform taking care referrals and providing care services safely?
As a Care Quality Commission-registered provider, we already follow robust procedures on infection control and, in addition, are now stringently following the Government’s guidance and measures as laid down by Public Health England.
We understand that people may be feeling anxious and we hope the positive attitude and approach displayed by colleagues is alleviating some of these concerns.
We are continuing to accept referrals for care services directly from clients, their families, or from professionals. If you are looking for care services for yourself, a relative, friend, or client, please contact us to discuss your needs on 01737 244312 or email [email protected].
Given the significant challenges of providing care during the coronavirus pandemic, we’re proud that colleagues have not missed a single care appointment and have received much praise from clients and relatives about the support they have been providing in extremely difficult situations.
Below, for example, you can read a letter from the sister of a client who sadly passed away (from health conditions unrelated to Covid-19) thanking colleagues for the superb care they provided to him during his final days.
Are you providing supported housing/taking referrals during Covid-19?
Housing and support service colleagues are continuing to provide a full service during lockdown through a range of different means. This includes offering more phone support and counselling, providing video-call support, using WhatsApp and other mobile apps, as well as carrying out visits to shared houses.
Generally, people need to be referred for housing from a housing department, social services, probation service or other support agency. The referral process for services varies depending on the individual and type of service. To find out more, please browse the service map and contact the relevant team.
To refer someone to housing services, please visit the referrals page.
How is Transform handling Covid-19?
We have introduced a clear and planned approach to managing the Covid-19 virus. Early on, we set up a pandemic contingency planning and action group led by Chief Executive, Lawrence Santcross. This group includes executive team directors supported by Transform’s senior leadership team. The team meets every week to review a detailed action plan covering the following key themes:
- preventing the spread of Covid-19;
- delivering tailored support to clients while complying with Government requirements;
- effectively managing staff shortages to enable service continuity;
- providing support for colleagues’ physical and mental well-being;
- ensuring health and safety management and compliance;
- strengthening organisational resilience.
Business continuity plans have been reviewed and updated along with the risk register and these are reported to Transform’s Board of Trustees. In addition, we have set ourselves key performance indicators to enable us to measure how we are tackling the virus and to alter our procedures and actions accordingly.
We have carried out our internal risk assessments for our service offices and have complied with the Government’s guidance on managing the risk of Covid-19. Five steps to safer woking together certificates are displayed in our offices. Click here to view our certificate.
If you have any questions about how Transform is managing services during the coronavirus pandemic, please contact us at [email protected].
We have convened a new client services sub-committee to provide oversight of the operational challenges that coronavirus brings.
Client support needs are being reviewed taking into consideration risks, including any underlying health conditions that could make people more vulnerable to catching the virus. We are prioritising clients in terms of level of risk and have developed methods for providing support for individuals who are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms.
We are also keeping a record of clients who are self-isolating and who are confirmed to have the virus so we are better able to provide the support they require.
We are disseminating the latest Government advice to all clients and working with them to implement recommended actions and guidelines.
If you have any queries relating to how Transform is providing services to clients during the Covid-19 pandemic, please contact Director of Client Services Adele Duncan at [email protected].
Frontline colleagues and members of our ‘back office’ support teams have overcome some significant challenges, including those posed by working from home, to continue to deliver crucial ongoing Transform activity. This has included launching and implementing many new projects or pieces of work resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
It very important that we continue to support colleagues. We are collating, producing and disseminating wellbeing guidance including tips and guidelines on working from home, how to use PPE and looking after mental health.
We are also providing regular updated guidance on Covid-19 to all colleagues to ensure we are all up-to-speed with national developments and are being consistent in our approach across all of our services. The Executive team is also recognising and celebrating the outstanding work of colleagues across Transform throughout this difficult period within a regular ‘cheer a colleague’ feature. We are promoting these stories across Transform’s social media channels as well as on our website.
We have a planned approach to dealing with colleague shortages and have been using different ways of working to cover gaps across our services. We are also keeping registers of those colleagues who are at risk, self-isolating, or confirmed to have the virus.
If you have any queries on how we are supporting colleagues during Covid-19, please contact Head of People Simone Bartley at [email protected].
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Protecting colleagues and clients with essential personal protective equipment (PPE) enables our important activities to continue during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, as has been highlighted in many news reports in past weeks, there is a nationwide lack of PPE.
We have been sourcing and acquiring PPE through a variety of different means – including our emergency Covid-19 fundraising appeal, putting bids in for a number of funding streams and posting call-outs on social media. Thanks to the generosity of local community groups, funding bodies, the University of Surrey and other organisations – some of which have been donating or making items – we have been able to secure PPE to cover us for the timebeing.
If you know of any organisations which are creating, or have spare, PPE such as water repellent overalls, goggles, visors, masks, gloves or aprons, please ask them to get in touch with us by emailing [email protected].
Transform emergency Covid-19 fundraising appeal
We launched an emergency appeal in March asking for assistance with supporting homeless and other vulnerable people in the area during the Covid-19 crisis.
As previously mentioned, clients often don’t have a wide family network to support them if they contract the virus. Many also have other mental or physical health challenges which put them more at risk during the coronavirus pandemic.
We have received many generous donations which are already helping us support people, but there is still a need for:
- essential food;
- healthcare items and medicine;
- additional hygiene and personal care products;
- technology support so clients can stay connected with friends or family.
If you would like to support vulnerable members of the local community, please visit our JustGiving page.
A view from trustee Ollie Smedley
In the six months since the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic had begun to be felt in the UK, Transform had reinvented the way it had worked, Mr Smedley said. Reflecting on the challenges faced by the organisation, he explained that Transform had been innovative in terms of finding new ways to support clients.
“We have had to change how we communicate between colleagues, for example, and I am impressed with the way our key workers have continued to deliver such a high-quality service,” he said. “I think Transform has done exceptionally well to keep up to date with best practices and to modernise its approach so we are now in a great position to grow the number of clients we can support.”
Sadly, some criminals are using Covid-19 to expand their criminal activities. Here is some guidance from National Trading Standards to help you protect yourselves and your loved ones from being the victims of coronavirus scams and other crime.
There have also been many phone scams reported in relation to Covid recently. Here is one real example of a scam phone call. It could be very convincing for many people especially those who are elderly or vulnerable.
‘Good afternoon I'm calling from the NHS track and trace service. According to our system, you are likely to have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. This means that you now need to self-isolate for seven days and take a Covid-19 test.'
'OK. Can you tell me who that person was?'
'I'm not able to tell you that. That is confidential information.'
'Right. .. so ....'
'But you do need to be tested within the next 72 hours so can I just get the best mailing address so that we can send a kit to you?'
'I just need to take a payment card so that we can finalise this and send the kit to you.'
'A payment card? I thought this was all free?'
'No – I'm afraid not. There is a one-off fee of £50 for the kit and test results. Could you read off the long card number for me, please, when you're ready.'
'No – that's not right. This is part of the NHS so there's no charge.'
'I'm afraid there is. Can you give me the card number please – this is very important, and there are heavy penalties for not complying.'
Affecting national changes by making your voice heard through Healthwatch
Healthwatch is the independent national champion for people who use health and social care services. Its goal is to find out what matters to people and ensure their views shape the support they need.
Healthwatch finds out what people like about services, and what could be improved, and shares these views with those with the power to make change happen. The organisation also assists people to find the information they need about services in their area.
Nationally and locally, Healthwatch has the power to make sure that those in charge of health and social care services hear people's voices. As well as seeking people’s views, Healthwatch also encourages health and social care services to involve people in the decisions that affect them.
Like Healthwatch, Transform believes that people's views must come first – especially those who find it hardest to be heard. During the coronavirus pandemic, if you would like to highlight great social care service that you’ve experienced, or pinpoint areas that could be improved, get in contact with your local Healthwatch.
Find out more by visiting the Healthwatch Surrey website.