A message from Surrey Choices – Updated Friday 17 June 2022

COVID-19 Update

In line with the recent changes announced by the government as to how social care providers should undertake testing with effect from 4 April, we will be adopting the following Covid testing regime across all of our services.

  • In line with the revised government guidance, we will be ceasing routine weekly PCR testing, with this being replaced with enhanced lateral flow testing regime as detailed below.
  • All staff will now complete a lateral flow test twice a week where there are undertaking the following activities;
    •  Providing direct support
    • Working within any of our buildings
    • Attending meetings regardless of where meetings are taking place.
  • As currently staff members will undertake tests at home and will only attend work following a negative result.
  • While routine lateral flow testing is not mandatory for people using our services, where individuals are able to be tested we would strongly encourage people to do this as undertaking regular testing along with vaccination remains the most effective way of ensuring the wellbeing of everyone working in or accessing our services.
  • In the event of any positive cases being confirmed within our services, staff members and people accessing the service may be asked to undertake an enhanced testing regime, details of which will be provided as required.

In addition to the changes detailed above we are continuing to ensure everyone’s wellbeing through the following actions;

  • 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.
  • In addition to the revised testing regime we are continuing with our other infection control measures  (mask wearing, hand washing, cleaning, etc), which 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 Omicron and Delta variants appears to have a different set of symptoms to earlier variants, 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.

Covid Measures for the people we support:

Mask Wearing
It is not a requirement for people who use our services to wear a mask. However, where possible we would encourage people to do so if they can. This will help protect them and others while being supported.

Testing
Access to rapid lateral flow tests have ceased for most people. However, some vulnerable groups including people with Downs Syndrome are still able to access free tests. If you think you may be still eligible for free tests you can order them here and they will send them to you in the post.

Order rapid lateral flow tests from the Government website

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
  • The Cottage

North Surrey:

  • Fernleigh
  • Nexus
  • The Knowle

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 number 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

Flexi-Choices

  • 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 may be necessary to temporarily reduce capacity within the service.
  • Additional Health and Safety measures remain in place, such as PPE, social distancing and enhanced cleaning.
  • In July 2021 the Government passed legislation which came into force on 11 November 2021. This required anyone who works in, or enters, a care home (with certain exceptions) to be fully vaccinated. While the government has recently announced that it was ending this mandatory requirement, given the vulnerability of many of the people we support we have taken a decision to continue to require all new staff to be fully vaccinated,

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 be encouraged 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

We remain committed to keep our Covid safety measures under constant review reviewing 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