Transform and Covid-19 – May 2020 update

11 May 2020

At Transform Housing & Support we enable more than 2,000 vulnerable people each year to live independent and fulfilling lives by providing housing, support and care services in Surrey and surrounding areas. We aim to provide all clients with exceptional levels of care and support.

As a charity and housing association, our activities are important – and never more so than now. We would like to assure clients, colleagues, trustees, patrons. ambassadors and stakeholders that during this crisis, we have been working hard to ensure clients get the assistance they need, while also protecting the health and well-being of clients and colleagues.

All our services are operating although we have had to adapt how we run some of these in line with the latest Government guidelines.

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 more critical now than ever.

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 well-being in ways that keep both clients and colleagues, safe.

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 info@transformhomecare.org.uk.

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 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?

Management

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.

If you have any questions about how Transform is managing services during the coronavirus pandemic, please contact us at comms@transformhousing.org.uk.

Clients

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 aduncan@transformhousing.org.uk.

Transform colleagues

Front-line 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 well-being guidance including tips and guidelines on working from home, how to use PPE and looking after mental health.

We are also providing weekly 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 weekly ‘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.

In April, the Government announced the roll-out of Covid-19 testing for non-NHS keyworkers. Some Transform colleagues had already been tested as we were chosen to be part of the pilot roll-out. Following the announcement, we contacted line-managers to detail the process for referring front-line colleagues for coronavirus testing moving forward. Colleagues are now being offered testing if they, or a member of their household, is showing symptoms, or they have been in contact with someone with Covid-19.

If you have any queries on how we are supporting colleagues during Covid-19, please contact Head of People Simone Bartley at sbartley@transformhousing.org.uk.

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.

Since the onset of the pandemic, sourcing PPE has cost Transform more than £1,000 a day and these costs are ever increasing because of the shortage of supply.

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 short periods. The need for this vital equipment is continuing to rise, however, as the Government guidance calls for increased use of PPE, some items of which can only be used once.

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 comms@transformhousing.org.uk.

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.

Scams

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.

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.

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