A message from Surrey Choices – Updated Monday 8 November 2021

We have revised our guidance slightly since the last update to ensure that we properly balance the risks presented by the virus and the vulnerability of many of the people who we support. Primarily, these changes relate to easing the restrictions regarding the number of people that can be supported within our buildings and on our minibuses.

We continue to review the working arrangements that Surrey Choices has in place to ensure the wellbeing of everyone who uses and works in our services.

Surrey Choices is committed to complying with the legislation and regulatory requirements stemming from government legislation passed on 11 July 2021. We have implemented a policy for all employees who can safely be vaccinated, to be vaccinated.

Given the vulnerability of many of the people who we support, we continue with the arrangements summarised below. Staff continue to follow the current testing regime, use PPE, and adhere to 1m+ social distancing guidance within our buildings.

All arrangements should continue to be interpreted as guidance and they may be subject to further change in the event of there being a significantly increased risk from the virus locally.

Keeping Safe – PPE, Testing and Vaccines

As we continue to take steps to expand our offer, we will continue to assess the safety of our activities and will take every possible precaution to keep everyone safe:

  • We are continually reviewing our health and safety arrangements in the light of changing Government guidelines.
  • Our colleagues continue to have access to PPE to ensure they can work as safely as possible. They have also received additional training in infection control and Covid security measures, such as cleaning and disinfecting premises and materials.
  • Surrey Choices’ policy is for all employees who can safely be vaccinated, to be vaccinated.
  • All of our frontline care and support workers have now been offered the vaccine, and our take-up so far has been very positive. Our employees understand and value the opportunity to take steps to keep themselves and others safe. To date 93% of our staff have had at least their first vaccine and 81% have had their second.
  • We have seen an increased number of people who access our services being vaccinated, although it is not a requirement for people to be vaccinated to receive support from us.
  • We have introduced twice weekly Rapid Lateral Flow testing to colleagues in Surrey Choices in addition to weekly PCR testing in line with Government guidance. This testing regime, together with our other infection control measures (mask wearing, hand washing, cleaning, etc), will continue to make a significant contribution to keeping everyone safe.
  • We will continue to provide advice and guidance to people using our services, about how they can keep themselves safe, including in Easy Read formats. 
  • The Delta variant appears to have a different set of symptoms to that which we’ve seen to date, which include headache, sore throat, runny nose and a fever. Unfortunately, a number of these symptoms are also associated with hay fever and general colds. Therefore we are asking that if anyone accessing support has these symptoms or lives with someone who does that they undertake a LFT test prior to receiving this support, whether that is at home, in the community or in one of our buildings.
  • We have revised our guidelines for maintaining social distancing within our building and on our vehicles, which subject to individual risk assessments, will allow us to support more people safely within these spaces.

Community Choices – Day and Vocational Services 

The following Community Choices buildings are open.

 West Surrey:

  • The Harbour
  • Cranstock
  • Woking Resource Centre
  • Camberley Community Group
  • Lockwood

East Surrey:

  • Priory Gate
  • The Larches
  • Westway
  • Bletchingley Activity Centre
  • Civic Centre
  • Longmead

North Surrey:

  • Fernleigh
  • Nexus
  • The Knowle

Buildings that remain closed

Unfortunately there are a small number of our buildings, as detailed below, that we have not yet been able to open. This is primarily due to the way in which these buildings are configured. This means that it has not been possible to date to make them Covid secure. Where a building has not opened we are providing support within the community and alternative local services.

  • Woodmansterne
  • Walton on the Hill
  • Farnham Community Group
  • Dorking Community Group
  • Stanwell Moor
  • The Cottage

We are keeping the use of these buildings under review and will provide an update in November.

Building Safety 

All of our buildings will continue to implement Covid secure measures to ensure the safety of everyone who uses them.

  • Social distancing requirements in our buildings have been revised from 1m+ to be based on individual risk assessment, which will enable us to increase the number of people accessing our buildings while still keeping them safe.
  • Day and Vocational Services continue to provide a range of live online sessions that will be available through the Surrey Choices website.
  • Social distancing measures have been revised within our vehicles to increase the number of passengers we are able to support while still keeping people safe. Vehicle capacity will now be based on individual risk assessments taking into account the vulnerability, vaccination status and PPE (mask) use.
  • Community transport providers continue to operate their own guidelines regarding vehicle capacity for journeys to and from our services. Therefore, we are continuing to prioritise transport to those who do not have access to their own transport, such as a Motability vehicle. We are available to discuss any transport issues with individual families and Carers


  • Due to the success of the Flexi-Choices service during the lockdown, we launched a new flexible respite service in June 2021, which combines building based activities with community support during evenings and weekends.
  • This service is available on referral from social care, but is also open to people with direct payments or private funders.
  • Initially some of the services available remain limited, but the plan is to grow and expand the opportunities available during 2021

Short Breaks Banstead

  • The service continues to operate. However, due to staffing pressures linked to the pandemic it has been necessary to temporarily reduce capacity within the service to a maximum of 4 beds.
  • Additional Health and Safety measures remain in place, such as PPE, social distancing and enhanced cleaning.
  • In July 2021 the Government passed legislation which comes into force on 11 November 2021. This requires anyone who works in, or enters, a care home (with certain exceptions) to be fully vaccinated. Surrey Choices is committed to complying with the legislation and regulatory requirements stemming from the legislation.

Shared Lives

  • Long term support arrangements remain unaffected.
  • Respite support continues to be provided: new bookings are being reviewed to ensure every possible precaution is taken to reduce the risk of infection.

EmployAbility and Future Choices

  • Direct support into workplaces has been increased.
  • Where a need for direct support has been identified, guidelines will follow those for Day Services and Flexi-Choices.
  • We are constantly developing our virtual programme, enabling all other support to continue to take place digitally.

Support, Admin and Managerial Staff

  • Our administration, support functions and management colleagues will continue to work remotely and only access our buildings where this is required to undertake their role, such as for the collection of vital PPE, or to ensure adequate Covid-security arrangements are in place.

Reviewing our Arrangements

As restrictions continue to be lifted, we will review our situation to ensure that our arrangements remain proportionate, and balance the risks associated with the virus with those potentially arising from social isolation or pressures from family caring.

If you have any questions or you are concerned, please contact your usual service or our main office:

Head Office Address:  Surrey Choices, Fernleigh Activity Centre, Fernleigh Close, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England. KT12 1RD

Email: info@surreychoices.com

Phone Numbers:

Office – 01483 806806 (Monday – Friday 8.00am – 4.00pm)
Short Breaks – 01483 806550 (24 hours a day)
Text – 07860 020130