Information for families of people we support.
What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronaviruses are common across the world. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus.
The most common symptoms are a continuous cough and/or a high temperature (fever). For most people, COVID-19 will be a mild infection.
However, some people are more vulnerable to getting severe symptoms. Those people are :
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone advised to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds)
- chronic (long term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis-chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinsons disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as a result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (BMI of 40 or more)
- those who are pregnant
We have had to plan for a ‘worst-case scenario’ including significant reduction of available staffing. We constantly review staff availability and prioritise support for people with the most critical need. However, we will not put people’s safety or wellbeing at risk and will liaise with family carers and other members of the person’s circle of support to ensure that we work together. And, we are recruiting new staff and will be raising our profile on social media.
Every member of our teams, in every role, has extensive training and all of us have recently completed additional and updated training in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, including in Infection Control. Staff are all following national guidance in the use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and cleaning and frequent disinfecting of surfaces.
Thera have some accessible resources on their website for people we support and their families about the virus and particularly how people can keep themselves safe. Staff are supporting people to make sure they understand it and what they should be doing.
What is ‘Stay at Home’ self–isolation?
‘Staying at Home’ self-isolation is for an individual when they show symptoms, or for households when anyone in that household shows symptoms. The Government is asking that in this case people stay at home and do not go out at all, and avoid all contact with people.
This will help control the spread of the virus.
When should I self–isolate?
You should self-isolate when you or a household member have the most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19):
- new continuous cough and/or
- high temperature
- If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.
- If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
It is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
For anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.
What should I do when isolating?
You should remain in your home. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis. You can go for a walk as long as you are practicing social distancing (walking 2 metres apart).
If you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period.
If you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible.
You will need to ask friends or relatives if you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication. Alternatively, you can order medication by phone or online. You can also order your shopping online. Make sure you tell delivery drivers to leave items outside for collection if you order online. The delivery driver should not come into your home. For further advice please follow the following link:
How will Thera support people if they have to stay at home and self-isolate?
We will be supporting people to self isolate if they have symptoms.
The guidance for Supported Living and Thera Group’s Pandemic Influenza and Infection Control policies tell support teams how to do this, which describes the proper use of personal protective equipment when supporting someone who has symptoms of COVID -19.
These policies also explain how to support people in the house, manage cleaning and laundry.
As soon as someone in a shared household shows symptoms staff will need to support the whole household (the people living there, not working there), to follow the Gov. Stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.
What is Social Distancing?
Social distancing helps us cut down on the number of social interactions we have, whereas self isolation is far more strict and is currently only for people who themselves or the people they live with have symptoms (see above and Government ‘Stay at home guidelines for households)
Who has to socially distance?
Social distancing advice applies to everyone and those with increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) are being advised to be particularly stringent in following the measures.
Government are advising that we all:
- Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID -19).
- Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible.
- Work from home, where possible.
- Avoid gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars and clubs.
- Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet and social media.
- Use telephone or on-line services to contact GP’s or other essential services.
How are people with a learning disability affected by social distancing?
People with a learning disability, with or without an underlying health condition, have been assessed as being at high risk of severe illness.
This affects everyone Thera supports and many people will also be older and or have an underlying health condition. This means that for everyone we support the government is strongly advising that they stringently follow social distancing measures. This will be incredibly difficult for some people to understand, accept and follow.
We have created accessible information, videos and tools to help. However, for many people, as in other aspects of their lives, will require the help of family, friends and the teams that know them well to help them cope day to day and make decisions in their best interests.
Can people have visitors in their homes?
The current ‘lockdown’ discourages any social contact, which reduces the spread of infection.
Please help us keep your relative safe and well by keeping in touch by your family member by phone or social media.
Will building based Day Opportunities/Hubs/Cafés remain open?
These settings bring groups of people together and because people with learning disabilities have been identified as higher risk then we feel we must stop such activities for the time being.
Managing Directors and senior teams will be working with Local authorities, people supported and staff to close these settings, at least temporarily.
It might be possible to continue to provide essential support activities in other ways e.g., individually in people’s own homes, walks outside, meal deliveries. Any continuation of services will need to be negotiated and agreed with funders and local authorities.
Helping people stay in touch with friends and families
Many people we support will already call and skype relatives or use social media. If they don’t these methods support staff could help people keep in touch with families and friends. Please support people to consider and arrange these options using normal process to support people to make decisions around purchases.
Will planned health appointments change?
Yes. The individual will be supported to contact GPs and health centres by phone or on-line.
Be aware that non essential appointments and operations will be postponed. Check with GPs and consultants about planned appointments for people.
What does social distancing mean for how staff go about their work?
The Government’s social distancing guidance talks about social life and work and is trying to make it especially possible for key workers, including social care workers to continue.
However, the principles of social distancing are for everyone and we will encourage social distancing practices at work wherever possible.
Last updated: 26 March 2020, 1.44pm