This page contains the latest known information and advice for adult care providers in Somerset.

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, as is the advice and support available.  Please return to this page regularly.

Report a care setting COVID-19 outbreak
If you suspect or have a coronavirus outbreak in a care setting (1 or more resident/s or staff affected), call the local Public Health England Health Protection Team immediately and kept the team informed of any escalations

Phone: 0300 303 8162 (including out of hours)

Contact Us
If you have a COVID-19 concern or query affecting your service, or are not receiving email briefings, please contact our Incident Room via ASCCOVID19@somerset.gov.ukYou can also phone us on 07790 577338.

NB – Providers should continue to use Somerset Direct for individual cases / individual escalations at this time.

Upcoming webinars:
•  Provider Webinar with Mel Lock, Director of Adult Social Services, Friday 25 Sept, 14:00 – 15:00.  This webinar will provide important updates about testing and the latest guidance, and also the extension of the IPC grant to March 2021Please click this link following link at the time of the event.
•  Winter Webinar Series:  A series of webinars are being hosted by NHS England / Improvement as an opportunity to share with peers what is working well and get support and help in working through ideas to further improve practice. Sessions will be 3 weekly, on Wednesdays from 14:00 to 14:45pm and hosted on Microsoft Teams.  Further information, including joining details.
•  Weekly infection prevention and control webinar – every Friday at 15:00.  Please use this link to register for the day/s you would like to attend the webinar or join by phone:  0208 495 3300  Conference ID: 7950138#

Current Alert Level for Care Home Visits:Level 3 from Alert Levels for Care Home Visits

Please see the “Family visits at care homes” section for more detailed guidance.

Guidance on the Coronavirus is changing on a very frequent basis to reflect the latest advice and developing situation.

All Government updates can be found here:

Further information of particular interest and relevance to adult social care providers is listed here:

Guidance for health and social care staff who are caring for or treating a person who lacks mental capacity during the pandemic was updated by the Government on 07/09/2020.  You can read this guidance here.

The ability of our Local Authority DoLS team to carry out assessments and provide authorisations is severely impaired by understandable access restrictions imposed by care homes and hospitals.

The following approach has been adopted (from 18 March 2020) as Somerset County Council policy for the immediate future:

  • The DoLS team will make case-by-case decisions about whether any particular DoLS assessments must be completed, and will negotiate this accordingly.
  • This is only likely to be required in cases where to leave a person without authorisation would put them at some significant risk of harm. There are likely to be safeguarding cases.
  • Other part-completed assessments or those awaiting allocation will be put on hold and monitored until the current situation improves.
  • The DoLS team will look for alternative methods for conducting assessments where face-to-face contact is not considered appropriate. Discussions are underway about how to conduct some DoLS assessments by phone, but we are also mindful of the need to avoid placing any unnecessary additional pressures upon the time of staff in care settings

Further guidance:  Covid-19, the MCA, DoLS and Best Interests: Rapid Read (NHS England and NHS Improvement, August 2020)

In March of this year, most day services for adults with learning disabilities closed their doors due to COVID-19. As a local authority we have supported each individual provider decision and been grateful for all the support that has been offered, whether that was face to face, through activity boxes or virtual contact. We hope that providers will continue to be innovative and retain activities that have been successful such as the teams sessions and skype meet-ups. As England starts to come out of lockdown many providers and service users have asked when day services might be up and running, and on 10th July, the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) released this guidance commissioned by the Department for Health and Social Care to support day services for vulnerable adults to re-open or continue to operate in a safe manner. Somerset County Council would ask that all day service providers follow the guidance released by SCIE, drawing attention to the request for transparency with service users, families, the local authority and other providers regarding risk assessments both business wide and individuals. We have also produced a summary guide which we hope will be of use to affected services which covers aspects including funding, PPE and transport.

All Local Authorities were asked by the Department of Health and Social Care to submit and make public a letter setting out a short overview of its current care setting support activity and forward plans by 29 May 2020. The letter should be accompanied by a short capacity tracker template confirming the current level of provider access to the support offer (self-reported by local regulated care homes), as well as details of issues and support needs.

View the letter and template here

  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 05/06/2020

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Tim Baverstock (Assistant Director of Adult Social Care) to discuss grant funding.  Alison Bell (Strategic Manager for Public Health) will also be joining to provide an update of Care Home Testing, and Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager for Adult Social Care) will provide an update on PPE.

    • View the webinar 
    • View Alison Bell’s presentation
    • Responses to questions that were followed-up after the webinar had finished:
      • Q:  Could we use the funding for staff who are shielding.  It states that staff who self-isolate can be claimed but does that cover sheilding staff wages also?
        • A:  Shielding staff members can be allocated to the staff cost under the category of isolation and protection of staff and residents from infection/vulnerability – the Director of ASC has agreed this can be signed off against the grant determination.
      • Q:  Can you confirm when the Infection Control Grant Applies from
        • A:  Start date is on signing and return of the grant agreement and the condition states that it cannot be used for expenditure already incurred.
      • Q:  With regards to the grant, is there any further guidance regarding specifics of what you can/can’t spent the grant on?  e.g. Is capital expenditure allowed?  For example with regards to transport for staff.
        • A:  Capital spend is not excluded (provided it meets one of the categories). Please check if you are unsure.
    • The Department of Health and Social Care have also released an Infection Control Fund Question and Answer document 
  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 16/06/2020

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Tim Baverstock (Assistant Director of Adult Social Care) to discuss the remaining 25% of Infection Control Grant monies. This webinar was primarily for:

    • Domiciliary care providers
    • LD supported living providers
    • Extra Care housing providers
  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 01/07/2020

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Tim Baverstock (Assistant Director of Adult Social Care) and Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager, Adult Social Care COVID19 Response Team) to give an update on how we have progressed with exploring ways to help providers source PPE and use the bulk buying power of the council to do this at a favourable cost, and explained how providers will be able to purchase PPE going forward.

The Government announced that it has moved to institute a policy of testing all residents prior to admission to care homes, starting with those being discharged from hospital with the NHS having the responsibility for testing these specific patients in advance of timely discharge, and has published Hospital discharge service guidance (21/08/2020) including leaflets for patients, the admission and care of people in care homes (updated 02/09/2020) and stepdown of infection control precautions within hospitals and discharging COVID-19 patients from hospital to home settings (30/07/2020).

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed that this process has been implemented for all  patients that are admitted (for more than 24 hours).  If they are simply seen on AMU or within the Emergency Department they will not be tested ahead of discharge back to care homes.  Following testing, timing of discharge will be with the agreement of the care home in question regarding if the individual can be accepted to an isolated area within the care home pending test result.  The same process is applicable for community hospitals as well. The Somerset NHS Foundation Trust process is detailed in this flowchart (updated 21/04/2020)

We are seeking further information from Yeovil District Hospital and will add further detail on the arrangements once it becomes available.

Following the publication of guidance on visiting care homes during coronavirus by central government (updated on 31/07/2020 to say that no one should be allowed to enter a care home if they are currently experiencing or first experienced coronavirus symptoms in the last 10 days and on 21/09/2020 to say that it will be updated following publication of the adult social care winter plan), which includes information about making arrangements for limited visits to care homes with the support of their local Director of Public Health (DPH), we have produced a local framework for care homes that is aligned with the alert level published by the Joint Biosecurity Centre.  We acknowledge that the arrangements for visits are ultimately the decision of the registered manager of a setting, as they know their setting and residents best, however, we want to support their decisions and hope this framework is helpful.  The current alert level is Level 3:

Alert Levels for Care Home Visits with Level 3 highlighted

We have received the following questions from providers about family visits:

  • Q: Do all soft toys and cushions need to be removed from residents rooms if I am concerned that they may be a contamination risk?
    • A:  The virus can last up to 72hrs maximum outside the body.  So, if the toys and cushions are in a residents room, they pose little risk post 72hrs from any potential contamination that you are concerned about.  Alternatively, if they can be washed in a washing machine on a hot wash this will destroy the virus.

A Visitors’ protocol has also been developed by the Care Providers Alliance (19/06/2020)

National Guidance:

Local Guidance

In response to COVID-19, the Home Office and the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) have put temporary arrangements in place to provide DBS checks and fast-track emergency checks of the adults’ and children’s barred lists free-of-charge to healthcare and social care workers being recruited in connection with the care and treatment of COVID 19 in England and Wales.

These arrangements will provide employers with the option to appoint new recruits into regulated activity with adults and/or children, as long as the individuals are not barred, and appropriate measures are put in place to manage the individual until the full DBS check is received.

Guidance has been developed for organisations who need to do these checks, setting out how who can have them and how to complete the applications so these can be easily identified and the right level of information provided as quickly as possible.

These checks will be free of charge to reduce the burden on services at this time of need.

The guidance can be found here (updated 15/04/2020) and all other DBS guidance relating to COVID-19 can be found here (updated 16/07/2020) .

Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

We acknowledge that the provision of PPE has been, and continues to be, a significant challenge and we continue to make every effort to address this and support local care providers with regular PPE supplies wherever possible.

National Guidance

National Resources:
Local Guidance and Resources:

National Guidance 

The NHS has set up a supply distribution helpline which can answer PPE calls and emails 24/7:

Phone: 0800 915 9964
Email supplydisruptionservice@nhsbsa.nhs.uk

Please also refer to this letter issued by NHS England & NHS Improvement on 20 March 2020 regarding PPE supplies which contains more details and links to helpful resources.

Throughout May and June 2020, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have been inviting GPs, small residential care providers (24 beds or fewer) and small domiciliary care providers (99 clients or fewer) to register and order with the PPE portal, in order to help meet their PPE needs in the current climate.

PPE Portal:

  • The DHSC has launched a guidance page on the PPE Portal, to help provide information to those invited to register and order emergency PPE through the site.
  • Please find the page at this address:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ppe-portal-how-to-order-emergency-personal-protective-equipment (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 17/09/2020)
  • The page details who is eligible to register with the portal, how the order process works and what customers should expect from the portal.
  • Please ensure that all eligible providers regularly check their email accounts registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) / Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in order to ensure that the email invitation is received and actioned.
  • Any queries about the portal can be made through our Customer Service team at: 0800 876 6802.

Local process from 20/07/2020

From Monday, 20th July, the Local Authority has moved to the new chargeable model for PPE requests.  If you require PPE supplies and have not been able to obtain these via other routes or wholesalers, you should ensure that you complete www.somerset.gov.uk/orderppe on each Monday morning.  Orders received after Monday may not be processed within that working week. This will then generate an email into the Local Authority PPE Warehouse. Warehouse staff will check the order against available stocks and email the provider if there is any need for amendments to the order.  The Provider then confirms either the original order or the amended order; the warehouse generates a payment link by text or email to the Provider.  Once payment via debit or credit card has been received, the warehouse will pack and distribute the order.  It is therefore vital that Providers engage with the ordering process promptly and complete the order as early on each Monday as possible.  Prices for each PPE item will be clearly displayed so that Providers can verify the total order cost. We do hope that by continuing to provide a PPE service, that we can ensure a sustainable supply route for Providers, that we can pass on the cost opportunities of bulk purchasing and that we can support a more robust evaluation or product quality and control.

Resuscitation during the Coronavirus public health crisis presents those undertaking it with additional risks. Advanced life support procedures are considered aerosol generating, and should therefore only be undertaken by those wearing FFP3 masks and the highest level of PPE.

The Resuscitation Council UK are advocating compression only CPR at this time due to the inherent risks, further guidance can be found at:  https://www.resus.org.uk/media/statements/resuscitation-council-uk-statements-on-covid-19-coronavirus-cpr-and-resuscitation/covid-community/ (updated 13/05/2020)

  • The appropriate use of PPE will protect uniforms from contamination in most circumstances
  • Change at work – it is best practice to change in to and out of uniforms, or dedicated work clothing, at the workplace
  • Uniforms should be brought home in a disposable plastic bag and laundered separately

Public Health England South West are holding weekly webinars at 3pm each Friday to answer questions about infection prevention and control.  If you have yet to have an cases these webinars are provided to help you prepare and we would strongly urge you to participate.

To join the webinar follow the link or use the joining details below:

Please don’t throw empty hand gel/sanitiser bottles away, particularly small ones. You need to use these to decant gel from large bottles if you receive these as part of your PPE requirement. There is an increasing shortage of small bottles so we must reuse them.

When doing this, ensure that:

  • The bottle is cleaned thoroughly before refilling
  • You use a funnel to refill the bottle

Don’t forget:  Hand gel/sanitiser is only used where you cannot wash your hands with soap and water. This remains your best defence against COVID-19. Wash them for 20 seconds, and wash them frequently.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has instructed Randox to recall the ‘Randox COVID-19 Home Testing Kit’ with the Catalogue Number: EV4429 from NHS Test and Trace testing settings.  Further information is available from the Department of Health and Social Care.

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

Further information

The Government launched a new NHS Test and Trace service on 28/05/2020.  The service is expected to evolve over the coming weeks and further information will be added as it becomes available.

On 31/07/2020 the government published a letter from Professor Jane Cummings CBE RN, Director and Senior Advisor for Testing in Adult Social Care, and Alex Cooper, Senior Responsible Officer for the National Testing Programme. This letter provides further information on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) testing in care homes and was accompanied by a fact sheet and details of routes for Coronavirus testing in adult social care in England.

As part of efforts to make the testing process more accessible, the Department of Health and Social Care made changes to the process from  07/08/2020 to enable care homes to bulk register tests.

On 03/07/2020 the government announced that it was introducing regular retesting rolled out for care home staff and residents from 06/07/2020, initially targeted at homes for people aged 65 and over or supporting people with dementia.  This has now been expanded to care homes supporting other groups, including those supporting people with learning disabilities.

A letter was published from Rosamond Roughton, Director General, Adult Social Care regarding Care Homes: Outbreak Testing and Regular Testing on 03/07/2020 and on 08/07/2020 the government issued a further update in an email.

On Monday 11th May the digital care home testing portal was launched.  This service, provided by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), has been rolled out to all CQC registered care homes in a phased approach, initially available for care homes whose primary clients are older people or those with dementia, but (from 7 June) expanded to include all remaining adults care homes. The DHSC are asking that requests for whole home testing (all residents and asymptomatic staff) within care homes are made through this mechanism.

Please refer to this Care Home Testing Expansion factsheet for full information and a helpful overview of the process: 050620 Factsheet -Care Home Testing Expansion (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 05/06/2020)

The only exemption to this is if a care homes identifies their first symptomatic resident and is concerned that they may have an outbreak.  In these circumstances they should contact their local Public Health England Health Protection Team 0300 303 8162 (including out of hours) they will provide public health advice, and arrange urgent testing of all symptomatic residents.  Information on the local process can be found below under “Coronavirus testing for residents and reporting suspected COVID-19 cases”.

Any care home workers with symptoms should be self-isolating and can access testing via the self-referral portal or be referred by their employer in the usual way.  As with residents, information on the local process can be found below under “Coronavirus Testing for staff”

The collection of completed tests should be booked using the following link: https://www.carehomecollect.co.uk/ 

  • This service enables you to arrange a courier to collect your COVID-19 testing kits, which will be taken to the lab for processing.
  • This service is for the collection of used kits only, and not for the ordering of new testing kits.
  • You will be asked to provide your care home ID or equivalent unique identifier to access this service.
  • To request next day collection, your request must be submitted by by 19:00.
  • Please do not start testing until you have completed your courier booking.
  • If you require support with your courier booking, please contact the customer care team via COVIDCareHomeTesting@dhsc.gov.uk.

Symptomatic Residents:

  • If you have a symptomatic residents (new continuous cough and/or a high temperature and/or a loss of, or change to, the sense of smell or taste) please ensure you inform the local Public Health England Health Protection Team via telephone number: 0300 303 8162 as COVID-19 is a notifiable disease.
  • Infection prevention and control advice will be given, and PPE provision checked.  Arrangements for resident testing locally will be made through this route to confirm the initial outbreak. Please remember to notify PHE again should the situation escalate, as shown in the flowchart below.
  • The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be coordinating further requests for tests in a home that has an outbreak.  The CQC is in the process of contacting all care homes by email to enquire about additional tests.  Care homes are invited to contact the following helpline number: 0300 303 2713 with any queries regarding these tests.

Swabbing:

Mental Capacity guidance:

  • Testing patients does not bring any specific benefit to them as individuals, a positive or negative test does not of itself direct a change treatment.  If an individual has symptoms suggested of COVID 19, they should be treated as positive.  Therefore there are no decisions that can be made in the best interests of individuals to enforce testing where consent cannot be given and where the individual indicates that they do not wish to be tested.   If a home has other positive cases, or if the individual is themselves symptomatic, the least restrictive approach in line with the Mental Capacity Act would be to assume they are positive, and use pragmatic isolation techniques and appropriate PPE.  If a home has no cases and the individual is not symptomatic, it would be reasonable to assume they are negative and treat them in as they would all other residents.  Local guidance has been produced to support care homes to apply the principles of consent and Mental Capacity to the Covid 19 test.

Local Information

Please follow the flowchart below if you have identified possible or confirmed case(s) of COVID-19:

Abbreviations:

  • CCG:  NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group
  • GP:  General Practitioner
  • IPC:  Infection Prevention and Control
  • OCT:  Outbreak Control Team
  • PHE:  Public Health England
  • PPE:  Personal Protective Equipment
  • SCC:  Somerset County Council

A pdf version of the flowchart with links is available here

Further information on testing and how to protect care home residents and staff during the coronavirus outbreak can be found here:

In response to reports in the media about the accuracy of a type of test we have sought and received assurance that those used in Somerset have always been the recommended commercial kits that the concerns do not relate to.

Please continue to request testing for your symptomatic staff as early as possible (within first 3 days of displaying coronavirus-like symptoms).

Please ensure that staff do not leave their homes/continue working if they have symptoms of coronavirus or live with someone who does; self-isolation helps stop coronavirus spreading and this is particularly vital working in our adult social care sector given the vulnerability of those we care for and support.

National Information

The Government has announced that it will enable the testing of social care workers and those in their household who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and published the following information:

Local Information

Symptomatic Care Staff / symptomatic household members of care staff:

Since the launch of the national portal we are no longer supporting local testing for care staff

National Information

Information about the government’s coronavirus antibody testing programme (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 17/09/2020)

Local Information

Antibody tests can now be booked at different locations in Somerset via a digital booking platform.

This antibody test will confirm if at some point during the pandemic you have had the virus or not.  It will not confirm whether you have it currently, just that you have at some point.  There is still no firm evidence with regards the development of immunity, so we cannot state that having developed antibodies makes any particular difference in terms of personal risk.  Any one with a positive antibody test must consider themselves at continued risk and as such remain alert and continue to follow current guidelines.

Providers must tell the Care Quality Commission about the death of a person using their service without delay if either of the following has happened:

  • the person died while a regulated activity was being provided;
  • their death may have been a result of the regulated activity or how it was being provided.

For further information and the notification form please visit: https://www.cqc.org.uk/guidance-providers/notifications/death-person-using-service-notification-form (updated 22/05/2020)

Verification of Death, Death Certification and Registration procedures

In addition, where the person who has died had a learning disability a notification must also be completed for the Learning Disability Mortality Review (LeDeR) Programme using the following link:  https://www.bris.ac.uk/sps/leder/notification-system/ 

The Government is asking employers to let the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) know if an employee or volunteer in the adult social care sector has died.

Please follow this process (updated by the Department of Health and Social Care on 07/07/2020) where deaths have already occurred, and if there are any further deaths.

Employers are encouraged to tell the family, friends or colleagues of the care worker who has died that they’re submitting this information.

There is no legal duty on employers to submit this information to DHSC, but the Government has said that submitting this information will help to make sure the appropriate steps can be taken following the death of a care worker, including support for employers.

Please see the useful advice and guidance below from the CQC to care homes who are wanting to increase their bed capacity as part of the COVID-19 response.

If providers are making an application to increase their capacity and help meet DHSC or CCG COVID-19 contingency plans, it’s important they tell the CQC in their covering email and clearly mark it ‘COVID- 19 application’.

The CQC are prioritising these applications.  Further information (updated 22/06/2020).

The Care Quality Commission has written to all registered health and social care providers about how they are adapting their regulatory approach in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The letters (dated 16 March 2020) expand on an update they sent previously on 4 March 2020.

The changes they describe include:

  • stopping routine inspections from 16 March 2020;
  • a shift towards other remote methods to give assurance of safety and quality of care;
  • some inspection activity in a small number of cases (for example, where there are allegations of abuse);
  • giving extra support to registered managers in adult social care.

They clarified further that there are no changes to the requirements to make notifications / or the systems used to make them.

You should continue to notify the CQC of deaths and events stopping them from carrying on their service ‘safely and properly’ (Reg 18) – this will mean letting them know if your service operation is being negatively affected by COVID-19.

It does not mean that you’ll need to notify the CQC of every single COVID-19 related issue. Aside from making notifications in the usual way, you should stay in touch and contact them if there are specific concerns and issues that they need to be aware of.

For further information visit: https://www.cqc.org.uk/news/stories/routine-inspections-suspended-response-coronavirus-outbreak (updated 15/04/2020)

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 4:  In this month’s report, we explore some of the learning about good practice in infection prevention and control, and share some of the good examples we have encountered in understanding how providers have worked together to tackle COVID-19.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 3:  In this month’s report, we explore further the need for providers and other organisations to collaborate to tackle COVID-19. We look at what concerns have prompted us to carry out a number of inspections in recent months, and at the challenges that providers have faced in caring for people detained under the Mental Health Act or subject to a deprivation of liberty.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 2:  In this report, we explain the information we have gathered on the pressures that services and local systems have faced and the efforts that have been made to tackle them.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 1: This first insight document focuses on adult social care: reviewing data on outbreaks, deaths and availability of PPE, and in particular highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on staff wellbeing and the financial viability of adult social care services. 

We recognise many provider organisations in Somerset may suffer financial losses as a result of the challenges and consequences of COVID-19.

Adult Social Care is committed to continuing to fund contracted services, whether delivered or not, at agreed/contracted levels, even where services are unavoidably reduced and support not delivered.

In addition, to support the Adult Social Care market with their response to the Covid-19 outbreak, a one-off payment totalling the equivalent of a 10% increase in fees for a 3-month period has been approved for all SCC contracted personal care provision across homecare and residential/nursing care. This includes all Learning Disability and Mental Health services in these categories.

This payment will be made up front and in full to support both company cash flow and ongoing costs associated with the pandemic, in line with government guidance.

The payments will total £3.0m and are to be funded from the central government COVID-19 Emergency Funding for Local Government grant provided to support local authorities with their response to the outbreak.

We would like to reassure the businesses we work with that we will seek to find flexible solutions to help them continue to deliver services for our users.  Government guidance can be found here (updated 25/06/2020) and the Government has also developed a tool for businesses to find coronavirus financial support.  It has also published new information about financial support for voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations to respond to coronavirus (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and Office for Civil Society, updated 16/09/2020).

Government confirms that the government is fully committed to supporting suppliers and will be doing so until at least June. To qualify for support, businesses will need to work with us on a transparent open-book basis – it’s important that everyone is open and honest about their current situation, as this will enable us to prioritise our support for those who need it most. We will continue to review the situation and provide updates.

We are taking the following practical steps to help businesses in need of our assistance:

  1. If a business faces loss of income, we will discuss with them the available options where we continue to pay for the services they are contracted to provide. If we make payments for these services, we will work with these businesses, and where appropriate, look for support to redeploy their resources or personnel to support the Somerset community. We recognise that some businesses may not be able to operate as normal due to workforce or supply issues, and we will work to support them.
  2. We may need to ask businesses to provide additional resources and in some cases businesses may incur additional costs.  Again we will seek to agree a solution which takes account of need and cost in a balanced way.
  3. Payment will be made as promptly as possible.
    – We will look at all payment options on a case by case basis to support business sustainability.
    – We will work flexibly with providers occupying buildings which we own.
  4. We will be directing businesses we work with to the Government’s Covid-19 emergency financial support packages. We would ask you to be patient as these are developing on a daily basis. Any businesses in need of advice and support can visit the Local Growth Hub website at Heart of the South West Growth Hub. If any of our business suppliers are encountering difficulties due to COVID 19 we would encourage them to contact us to discuss how we can best assist you.  If any of our business suppliers are encountering difficulties due to COVID 19 we would encourage them to contact your Contract Manager to discuss how we can best assist you.

You may also find this SCC site helpful as a business in Somerset

Further Government guidance:

As part of the support to our homecare market in-relation to COVID-19, Somerset County Council agreed to support our homecare providers, by funding the level of activity, prior to COVID-19.  As from the 1st of August 2020, and with current homecare demand increasing, Somerset County Council will be returning to paying for deliverables, rather than previous levels of activities. 

The Care Act (2014) states client contributions should be only paid when receiving a service.

This means that if a service has been temporarily closed due to COVID-19 then no client contributions are payable by the person using the service for the duration of the temporary closure.  We appreciate that providers will continue to have costs, and therefore Somerset County Council should be invoiced for the gross cost of the care package during the temporary closure due to COVID-19.

Once the current national emergency restrictions have been lifted the contribution should be restarted from the date that person resumes receipt of the service and Somerset County Council invoiced for the net amount from that point onwards.

Nationally there have been reports of business being targeted by scams.  With many people now working from home, increased stress, less opportunities to talk to colleagues and a different working environment are all things that criminals are using to their advantage to commit fraud. Employees are having to make decisions on their own without verification from their colleagues, making businesses more susceptible to scams and fraud.

Businesses Against Scams is a national initiative to help all businesses be aware of scams.  Sign-up here access to access a training session that takes around 10 minutes to complete, and which provides information on these frauds, what to look out for and how to prevent your company from falling victim to them.

Test and Trace scams

Devon County Council have alerted us to attempted scam where a care home manager received a text to say that he had tested positive following a recent swab, and that he needed another test.  He phoned the number in the text and was told that he’d have to pay for the test.  He was asked for his bank details but did not give them.

We have also been alerted to a second scam by colleagues nationally where the perpetrator clams to be a contact tracer from NHS Test and Trace. We have included an example that has been circulated to us below.

Please help the people that you are supporting recognise if they are contacted by a scammer and that real contract tracers will not ask for payment, bank details or passwords.

The Metropolitan Police have produced information on how to stay safe in relation to Test and Trace

We have included an example of the scam call that was provided to us below:

With new Government guidance on hospital discharge arrangements (updated 13/05/2020), it is essential we work very hard in partnership to ensure individuals are not staying in Acute or Community hospitals any longer than is necessary.  As part of the work required to speed up the discharge process, the Government has asked all care home providers to:

  • Maintain capacity and identify vacancies that can be used for hospital discharge purposes;
  • Adopt and implement the Capacity Tracker during the COVID-19 outbreak to make vacancy information available to NHS and social care colleagues in real time time.

All care homes are reminded of the Government requirement to register on the national Capacity Tracker and update it on a daily basis in order to make vacancy and other critical information available to NHS and social care colleagues in real time.  

  • In partnership with local Primary Care Networks and Community Health Providers, consider how best to support residents and, where already in place, embed the Enhanced Health in Care Home Framework in line with timescales already outlined by NHSEI communicated to primary care providers.  This will ensure residents are better supported (7 days a week) by the NHS;
  • Implement NHSmail in their care homes to ease communication between NHS and social care colleagues.  From 23 March 2020, faster NHSmail roll-out will be available to all care providers to support safe and secure transfer of information. These are temporary measures to improve communication during COVID-19.  NHSX is committed to enabling care providers to choose the right communication solutions for them.
  • Where Trusted Assessor relationships and arrangements are not in place with Acute providers, rapidly work with hospital discharge teams to implement these rules and processes.

A letter was sent by Mel Lock, Director of Adult Social Services, Somerset County Council, regarding a funding announcement and survey requirements for the attention of all Somerset Residential and Nursing Care Home providers on 22/05/2020 that can be read here and which had an attachment containing a screenshot of the draft template that can be read here.  

A collaborative staffing solution in Somerset has now been launched with Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Somerset County Council working in partnership to supply needs-led staffing throughout the county.  The aim is to provide a seamless staffing solution across all health and social care settings, starting with a focus on care settings affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.  

The temporary staffing team at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust will take the lead role in the coordination of this service for care providers.  

In the event that a care provider identifies concerns re: safe staffing levels, that cannot be resolved through implementation of its own existing business continuity plans and arrangements, care providers are now able to then contact the Temporary Staffing Team (by email or phone) and submit a staffing request.  Bank / Agency staff cover will be sought by the team, with the provider invoiced at existing Somerset Foundation Trust rates.  

To access the process, contact details and staffing request form, please visit: Somerset Care Sector Procedures COVID19 Temporary Staffing MASTER

In response to your request to be able to manage existing clients as effectively as possible during this Covid-19 period, we have simplified the process of making changes to existing packages of care.

You can now make any necessary changes to your existing clients’ care without needing to contact Adult Social Care for authorisation.

We ask only that you provide us with a weekly update of the changes that you have made for any clients in your care.

As the online form did not work effectively for some care provider colleagues, we have created the following spreadsheet to help you record any changes.

Please update this and submit to the Sourcing Care team on a weekly basis, returning every Friday before 12pm midday.

We really appreciate your co-operation with this, as this will help us keep our records up to date. Please invoice as per normal process; monthly is fine.  If you have any queries, contact the Sourcing Care team on sourcingcareservice@somerset.gov.uk

It is now more important than ever that organisations and agencies within the health and social care system are able to efficiently and securely communicate with each other.

That is why we are asking all care homes in Somerset to obtain and utilise the following approved, free-of-charge, digital tools as soon as possible.

NHSmail

What is NHSmail?

NHSmail offers a recognised secure email system which will allow patient identifiable data to be shared with healthcare services. You will be able to use your NHSmail accounts to communicate securely by email with GPs, pharmacies, the CCG and the Local Authority.

More than half of all care homes in England are now using NHSmail and case studies have shown a range of benefits, such as:

  • Being able to receive referrals and discharge summaries without delays
  • Significant time saved by not having to post/fax and chase information
  • The ability to meet the expectations of partners in relation to secure email
  • More efficient, better informed hospital discharges
  • Reduced risk of important information being lost or unavailable when required

There is also the opportunity for all NHSmail account holiders to have access to Microsoft Teams which offers a video conferencing facility to enable video consultations during periods of social distancing. A series of video conferences will be held over the coming weeks to support social care providers to make use of their new email account and video conferencing facilities.

If you would like to discuss NHSmail or the application process in more detail, please contact Russell Hilton, Somerset CCG Lead Information Governance Officer on 07771 988691.

If you already have NHSmail, you do not need to complete this form, but please be aware that the deadline for your DSPT submission has been pushed back from 31st March to 30th September 2020.

Fast-track Application Process for Care Homes and Domiciliary Care Agencies
It is now more important than ever that organisations and agencies within the health and social care system are able to efficiently and securely communicate with each other.

That is why we are asking all care homes in Somerset to obtain NHSmail, free-of-charge, by completing a quick and easy form.
You may be aware that care providers had previously been required to complete a Data Security & Protection Toolkit (DSPT) submission prior to obtaining NHSmail. This requirement has been temporarily lifted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the process for obtaining NHSmail is now very quick and simple.

To obtain NHSmail, just complete this form: Social Care Provider NHSmail Form and email it to russell.hilton1@nhs.net. 

Applications are processed by an automated system and will be rejected/delayed if incorrectly filled out. Therefore, please refer to the How to complete the NHSmail Form guidance notes, when filling out your application.

During the coronavirus outbreak we recognise it is even more important for us all to support each other and offer assistance wherever we can.
The care of the elderly departments across Somerset’s Acute Hospitals are preparing to answer clinical concerns from staff at residential and nursing homes.
This might be for issues such as: a person has fallen over and hit their head; do they need to be seen in the hospital? or a person is becoming more confused than usual and it’s not clear why.
Whilst they might not have all the answers or be able to offer hands-on support, they do have experience in these matters and may be able to provide reassurance or talk through a management plan to support you and GP colleagues.
Homes will be contacted soon via the CCG or Consultant Connect with further information and specifics about routes in to this service.

Training from Somerset GP Education Trust and Somerset Training Hub to up-skill care nurses working in care homes to be able to  give flu vaccinations

NHS Health Education England has developed a Covid-19 e-learning programme and the resources are freely available to colleagues working in the NHS, independent sector, and social care.  This includes resources for Health and Care Staff in Care Home Settings.

To access the e-learning programme follow the link, then select “Resources for Volunteers Supporting Health & Social Care”, then “Volunteer Learning Passport” – there are a range of topics, including Safeguarding Adults / Safeguarding Children.

Skills for Care has also identified training that remains a priority during this period to ensure there is a skilled and competent workforce, as well as outlining how to access training locally, and are also funding an essential training programme that includes IPC training that is being delivered virtually by 12 endorsed providers free of charge.  Skills for Care has also issued  guidance for employers, learning providers and in-house trainers on face-to-face training and assessment during COVID-19.

A new dedicated app for the adult social care workforce in England has been launched to support staff through the coronavirus pandemic.  Care workers will get access to guidance, learning resources, discounts and other support in one place.  Support will be offered on mental health and wellbeing through toolkits and other resources.  The app will be available to download on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, as well as being accessible online at https://workforce.adultsocialcare.uk

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) have also developed the following resources including webinars and e-Learning:

The Registered Manager Network is organised by the Registered Care Provider Association (RCPA) in Somerset and any enquires about the network should be made to the RCPA.

The last meeting of the network took place virtually on 08/09/2020 and we have been asked to share the following information:

The Somerset Corona Virus Support Helpline – 0300 790 6275 – was launched on 6th April, opening between 8am – 6pm seven days a week including bank holidays. This single helpline across the districts and county will offer support with: Personal Care and support including food and prescriptions, Transport, Housing, Waste, Financial, as well as emotional well being for those who are worried or anxious. 

Skills for Care are able to create a local WhatsApp group for those of you who are keen and who feel this could be a good way of staying in touch and networking with others. The purpose of the group will be to provide a mechanism where you can all communicate with each other over issues affecting you as Registered Managers. You can share ideas, resources and support.

There are a number of ways that you can join this group:

During the COVID-19 outbreak we are, together, facing a loss of life, often under very difficult circumstances. Two important new resources are now available to help people through these distressing times.

  1. A new Bereavement and Coronavirus Guide has been produced to help with practical information such as how to register a death, through to planning a funeral and information on bereavement and grief. There is also a section on further advice and support.  If a person who has bereaved would like a paper copy of the guide, please telephone 0300 790 6275 and ask for the bereavement booklet to be sent to them and give their name and address
  2. Together with the booklet, Somerset has developed additional bereavement support services that have a quick and easy referral process.  If anyone would like to talk to someone about their loss then please contact the Marie Curie Helpline  0800 3047 412 Monday – Saturday 09.00-17.00. They are there to help and would welcome your call.  The service also has qualified bereavement support workers available for more in-depth support if needed. Professional referrals can be taken with the person’s permission.

Two posters have also been produced that can be downloaded below:

Parking

Somerset is supporting key workers by suspending parking enforcement across the county.   As part of this we’ll be standing down our Civil Enforcement team for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, but a small team will remain available to deal with any parking problems that could affect key access routes to premises such as hospitals and supermarkets.

This means we’ll be able to redeploy officers to support community work such as helping to shop for food and collecting medicines for vulnerable people.

We are also urging all drivers who have to go out only to park in permitted areas, such as parking bays, car parks and uncontrolled areas. It is vitally important that drivers don’t block the path of emergency vehicles and others involved in delivering services to those in need.  People must not make unnecessary journeys and should stay home where possible to protect the NHS and save lives.

While the Government has also published information for a health, care and volunteer workers parking pass and concessions pass for those on duty as an NHS staff member, health or social care worker, or NHS Volunteer Responder and discussions are currently underway how to implement their issuing locally. 

On-street parking patrols restarted in Somerset on 01/06/2020 following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.  At first Somerset County Council’s civil enforcement officers will serve penalty notices on vehicles parked on double yellow lines, in places with loading restrictions, bus stops and dropped kerbs in public areas – all locations where no vehicles should be parked  For the first seven days, penalties will not be served where parking is permitted, such as resident bays, pay and display locations, limited waiting bays and single yellow lines (at times). The vehicle may have been left correctly and the driver may have, for example, self-isolated. A warning letter will be left on these vehicles asking that it is immediately removed to avoid receiving penalties in future.

Car Repairs

The Rusty Road 2 Recovery are offering free labour for essential car repairs (maximum labour time-one hour) for NHS staff, Social Care Staff, Care Providers, Caring Community, Carers, Community Groups, Community Car Services, Volunteers and Undertakers.

In these extraordinary times, we are all very aware of the importance of supporting both physical and mental health needs.

Find guidance, advice and tips on how to maintain mental wellbeing if you are anxious about the outbreak:

Documents

Posters:

keepsafe have developed a range of posters for people with learning disabilities.  These include:

  • Keep safe from 4th July
  • New rules about wearing face masks on public transport
  • Are you exempt from wearing a face covering? (including card to use when using public transport)
  • Support bubbles
  • New rules from 1st June 2020
  • Getting tested
  • Rules for May to June
  • Coronavirus…how to stay safe
  • Coronavirus…and health issues
  • Coronavirus…what if you get ill?
  • Coronavirus…staying at home
  • Coronavirus…you must stay at home
  • Coronavirus…please don’t spread it
  • Coronavirus…shielding
  • Coronavirus…being on your own
  • Coronavirus…why we wear PPE

For urgent requests for CHC help/support related to COVID-19 and CHC funded packages of care, please email: somccg.chc.contracts@nhs.ne