A Message from Mette Le Jakobsen, Managing Director – Monday 25 January 2021

Following the Government’s announcement of a further period of national lockdown commencing on 6 January 2021, Surrey Choices has reviewed its arrangements for continued support. Regrettably, with community infection rates continuing to increase rapidly and concerns around a new strain of the virus, this will mean further restrictions to our support offer whilst national lockdown regulations continue to be in place.

We are acutely aware of the pressures many individuals and families are under, and therefore the new arrangements set out below should be interpreted as general advice and guidance rather than hard and fast rules. For every person and family there will be a unique set of circumstances, and we will always seek to take those into account. We want to do everything in our power to limit the spread of the virus, whilst at the same time responding to other risks and issues faced by individuals and family carers after many months of living with restrictions.

The changes we are making with immediate effect in response to national lockdown restrictions are as follows;

Day and Vocational Services

  • We will continue to prioritise support for people living with family carers, people living with shared lives carers or on their own, and other individuals that have been identified as being at critical risk.
  • Due to the increased risk posed by the new more virulent strain of the virus, regrettably we must stop providing support within our buildings, except in exceptional circumstances. Instead we will prioritise support to people within their own homes where the risks are lower, especially when shared transport in and out of services is taken into account.
  • We will contact families affected by these changes to put alternative support arrangements in place based on their particular circumstances.
  • Where we are providing support to people in their own homes, this will be provided by the same staff member(s) as far as is practically possible and we will minimise the number of different people that staff members provide support to.
  • Our virtual programme will continue as previously. Where required, arrangements for dropping off session materials to people’s homes will also continue as before.
  • Staff members will only access our buildings where this is absolutely necessary to undertake tasks such as collecting PPE or delivering a virtual session.

FlexiChoices

  • FlexiChoices will stop providing building based support except in exceptional circumstances and instead will prioritise alternative support, where possible providing support within the family home.
  • We will contact families affected by these changes to put alternative support arrangements in place, taking account of their particular circumstances.

 Short Breaks Banstead

  • The service will continue to operate critical support, but with reduced capacity; this enables additional measures to be put in place, e.g. easier social distancing and separate bathroom facilities. 
  • We will contact those individuals and families who have booked to use the service in the next few weeks to see if bookings can be rescheduled in order to reduce occupancy within the service.

 Shared Lives

  • Long term support arrangements will be unaffected. 
  • Respite support will only be provided where there is a critical need, and new bookings will be reviewed to ensure every possible precaution is taken to reduce the risk of infection. 

 EmployAbility and Future Choices

  • Direct support will be limited to those who require support to undertake a critical job role.
  • All other support will be provided digitally wherever possible, except where a critical need for direct support has been identified, in which case guidelines will follow those for Day Services and FlexiChoices.

 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, e.g. for the collection of vital PPE, or to ensure adequate Covid-security arrangements are in place.

 Keeping safe

Surrey Choices will continue to do whatever is necessary to maintain safe practice and safe environments. We are continually reviewing our health and safety arrangements in the light of daily changes to Government guidelines. Our colleagues always have access to the PPE they require 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. 

 Testing

Testing is currently routinely available (as advised by the Government) to our colleagues at Short Breaks Banstead and Shared Lives staff, however, testing has not yet been made available to our Day Services, FlexiChoices or EmployAbility colleagues, or to Shared Lives Carers, hence we feel it is important to take additional precautions to remain safe. We continue to lobby the Government to make testing routinely available to all care and support staff.

Reviewing our arrangements

The arrangements set out here will apply while the national lockdown remains in place; we will review our situation daily, and undertake weekly reviews, service by service, to ensure that our arrangements remain proportionate and balance the risks associated with the pandemic 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

Phone Numbers:

 Office – 01483 806806 (Monday – Friday 8.00am – 4.00pm)

 Short Breaks – 01483 806550 (24 hours a day)

 Text – 07860 020130

 Mette Le Jakobsen

Managing Director