A Message from Mette Le Jakobsen, Managing Director – Thursday 25 June 2020
With most lockdown precautions ongoing, Surrey Choices is continuing to support disabled and vulnerable people across Surrey. I hope you have been keeping safe and are getting the support you need to stay well.
I last provided you with an update at the beginning of June, setting out the three stages of our Recovery Plan. Since then we have been busy with our continued support and with preparing for how we keep everyone safe as we take steps to increase the support we offer.
Following the Government’s announcement that lockdown restrictions will be eased from 4 July, Surrey Choices have assessed the situation and have concluded that it will be safe to move to Stage 2 of our Recovery Plan from Monday 6 July. This means that we will be providing an increased range of support, the details of which are set out below.
However, firstly I want to make it clear that our greatest priority is the safety and welfare of the people we support, their families and the fantastic teams of people who work for us. As we take steps to expand our offer, we will continually assess the safety of our activities. If at any point there is a change in circumstances, for instance if there were to be a second surge of infections either locally or nationally, we will quickly step back to Stage 1 of the Recovery Plan, and only proceed again when it is safe to do so. We will take every possible precaution to keep everyone safe, and we understand that some people will feel more anxious than others about reengaging with support, and that’s okay; we will be sensitive to how individuals feel and the experience that families have had during these difficult times.
Keeping Everyone Safe
During Stage 2, our support will initially prioritise those people who live on their own or with family carers, as well as other individuals identified by Surrey County Council as being at greatest risk. People who live in supported living or residential services will continue to benefit from our remote support.
To ensure the wellbeing of the people we support, their families and our staff teams, we are implementing a range of measures to keep people safe. This includes the following across all of our services;
- Ensuring that all our staff members use PPE whenever they are providing direct support
- Providing advice and guidance to people using our services, including in Easy Read formats, on how to keep themselves, their families and staff members safe
- Minimising the need for people to access our buildings, by providing support where people live and close to home in local neighbourhoods
- Implementing regular testing for staff to see if they have the virus in accordance with Government guidance
- Taking daily temperature checks for everyone using or working in our buildings before they enter
- Enhancing cleaning arrangements and providing hand sanitizer stations
- Implementing arrangements to support social distancing within our buildings, including; restricting the number of people able to use a building at any one time, providing Easy Read signage, floor markings, one-way entry and exit points, and making sure bathrooms can operate safely
The following describes how we will increase our offer from 6 July and the steps we are taking:
- Following a survey undertaken last week to identify the support requirements for people living with family carers, we will increase the range of direct support we provide, prioritising those individuals and families identified as being in the greatest need. We will increase support in a gradual way.
- We will be contacting people and their families before and during the week beginning 29 June to confirm what support we will initially be able to offer. Because of the large number of people we need to contact we would ask that people do not contact us prior to this. However, if you have not heard from us by Friday 3 July please contact the service coordinator for the service you usually use.
- We will prioritise supporting people in their homes as well as in their local community. This reduces the risks associated with enclosed spaces and helps to ease any potential pressure on our transport services. It will include supporting people to meet their friends in small groups as well as some individual support.
- We will be opening four of our activity hubs across Surrey to support those people who cannot readily have their needs met at home or in their local community. These buildings will be operating at reduced capacity to ensure social distancing can be maintained and access will therefore be prioritised for those people in greatest need. Based on the findings of the survey undertaken last week, we are currently finalising which buildings we will initially open. This offer will be open to a very small number of people and will not be offered where other options are possible.
- Where transport is required to access support, we ask that, wherever possible, people make their own arrangements. As a result of the impact of social distancing measures on vehicles passenger capacity, we will only be able to provide transport to a small number of people in order to keep everyone safe. Transport will therefore be restricted to those who do not have access to their own transport, such as a Motability vehicle.
- Day service staff will continue to provide a range of live on-line sessions and pre-recorded content that will be available though the Surrey Choices website.
- Our vocational projects will initially remain closed, while we commence expanding day support to ensure that resources are prioritised to support those people in greatest need.
- Our Growth Teams will gradually open from 13 July, once we have assured ourselves that safe working practices can be maintained. Access will be prioritised for those who live alone or with families.
- Once we have completed the initial relaunch of our day support we will review the remaining vocational projects to consider options for reintroducing them. It is presently anticipated that this will be at the end of July / start of August.
EmployAbility & Future Choices
- EmployAbility will focus on providing support to people returning to work following furlough, as well as providing support to people who are currently job seeking.
- The team will continue to provide online job clubs and employment related virtual sessions.
- Due to the end of the academic school year, the team will not provide work experience placements or internships to people currently at school or college prior to September but will continue to work with students until the end summer term.
- The team will recommence face to face where appropriate, working within social distancing guidelines as well as remote support.
- Future Choices will continue to provide remote support via on-line sessions until September when we will start to provide some direct support. Details of this will be made available over the next two months, but at this time it is anticipated that we may not initially be able to offer work experience placements.
Short Breaks Banstead
- From Monday 6 July, the service will commence a phased reopening of the remaining three beds until the service is back at full capacity (6 beds). Initially the service will prioritise those people and families identified as being in the greatest need.
- A gap will be in place in between each increase to ensure that the service is able to manage safely.
- If you previously accessed the service and would like to recommence support, please contact the service directly to express an interest.
- Shared Lives has continued to provide support to people living in permanent placements. Following the easing of restrictions which allow people to stay overnight in other people’s homes, the service will phase in respite and day-time support from 6 July.
- If you previously accessed respite support from Shared Lives and would like to recommence support, please contact the team directly to express this interest.
- The service continues to accept new referrals for potential carers and people looking for placements.
Our senior staff and back office teams (Human Resources, Finance, IT, Quality Assurance, Communications and Marketing) will continue to support the organisation remotely and access to office spaces will be limited to a small number of people who need to come in for essential reasons.
Providing government guidance does not change, we anticipate that Stage 2 will be in place during July, August and September, and we will update this page in due course with further details.
We continue to welcome referrals, whether for short term support during the pandemic, or for ongoing support. If you or a family member are already receiving support from us, and you have questions or concerns, please do contact the team on 01483 806806 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a commissioner or practitioner wishing to make an inquiry, we would be delighted to hear from you; please use the contact details above.
We are thankful for all the support and well wishes we have received during the pandemic and wish all our customers, families, friends and associates good health and wellbeing. Please take care and stay safe. Thank you.
Mette Le Jakobsen,