COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Statement 13/03/2020

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Information for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations from SVS  V6 13.3.20   

 

The spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a concern for everyone. Southampton Voluntary Services, which is responsible for the Voluntary Action Centre a shared public space where people work and visit, is taking this situation seriously.

The UK’s 4 Chief Medical Officers have increased the risk level in terms of planning for all eventualities for the wider public and WHO has now declared this a pandemic.

SVS will be posting reminders on practical steps we can all take as individuals to help reduce the risk of catching and spreading this virus and to remind us of the importance of good hygiene, plus details of any practical measures being taken in our building and services to help minimise the risk of spread of the virus.

We are keeping up to date with advice from:

 

The government site gives clear guidance on what to do (e.g. self-isolate) if you have any symptoms particularly a new persistent cough or temperature, have been in contact with anyone diagnoses or suspected of having COVID19 or have returned from areas abroad particularly effected .

Latest Govt guidance for everyone issued 13.3.20 is –

  1. The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of a new continuous cough and/or high temperature. If you have these symptoms, however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
  2. Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.
  3. To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
  4. Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

At the current time and based on our understanding of what is known of COVID-19 and other similar respiratory viruses, it is likely that older people and those with chronic medical conditions may be vulnerable to severe disease. As more information emerges, recommendations may change.

What SVS is doing:
• We have reiterated existing advice on good hygiene to all staff and put practical measures in place in the VAC to help reduce the risk of spread of the virus, such as signage in toilets about hand-washing/ tissue use and disposal; using antibacterial hand-wash and increased regular disinfecting of taps, surfaces and public door handles. These practical measures will be reviewed regularly, particularly in light of any changes to public health guidance.

  • We are ensuring our emergency contact and next of kin details are up to date for all staff and volunteers in order to expediate our emergency closure plan should this be necessary.
  • We will be looking at contingency plans should matters escalate and the services SVS provides can no longer be delivered (either by staff illness or a break in any of our supply chains) – if you haven’t already done this, it may be timely to revisit your own contingency planning for the services you provide. This may include extending arrangements for staff working from home where possible and measures to ensure you can maintain essential functions such as payroll.
  • There is an organisational risk assessment template which our national body NAVCA has produced that might assist VCSE organisations in their planning – not least in provoking discussion around ‘what if’ scenarios liked to this situation. This is attached below.
  • At this stage we are maintaining our usual work programme, including holding usual meetings and events at the VAC , but are reviewing future activities with a view to possible cancellations in future as the situation evolves.
  • We are reviewing the situation daily and will email and put information of our website should we consider it necessary to close the Voluntary Action Centre or Shopmobility service at any stage
  • We are meeting on Tues with Public health and Emergency Planning colleagues to ascertain what further advice and action might be appropriate from VCSE organisations and will try to arrange a briefing following that meeting.
  • We are considering how VCSE organisations and volunteers might be able to play a co-ordinated part in our city response to this challenge over the coming months and will update you after the meeting on Tues. If you have any ideas or suggestions around this please let Jo Ash know on j.ash@southamptonvs.org.uk and for cover copy to information@southamptonvs.org.uk

 

What we as individuals will be doing to reduce the risk:
• Regular and thorough hand-washing with hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds  (not touching mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands).  Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available.

  • The agreement not to take offence when someone politely reminds us about washing our hands (it is easy to forget when we are always in a rush and our minds are elsewhere).
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve ( not your hands) when coughing or sneezing . Using tissues or your elbow (when sneezing or coughing – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2jbEetZ8G4.) NOT coughing or sneezing into someone’s face. Dispose of tissues in a bin straight away and wash you hands afterwards.   You can download a ’Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ poster (PDF, 940KB) for your workplace from the NHS.
  • Use antibacterial wipes on phones etc. especially if you hot desk
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • Avoid greetings contact with people such as shaking hands, fist pumping, face kissing – try smiling and a nod or touching elbows instead
  • Ensure people you support understand the situation and the actions they should take (particularly if they are unable to speak/read English). Help people have their own personal contingency plan for getting food, care or medication should they need to self-isolate.
  • Keep a note of clients you identify as being particularly vulnerable or isolated and consider how you can maintain contact with them should they need to self-isolate or should you need to ceased group or face to face meetings with them. This will help to identify if or where additional volunteer support might be directed collectively.
  • If you think you might be infected with the Coronavirus, do not risk spreading it by coming into work or by going to the GP or hospital. Contact NHS 111 for advice online or by phone. Use the 111 Coronavirus service  https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19

Guidance on self-isolation  

If there’s a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people and self-isolate.

This means you should

  • Stay at home – in a separate room if possible from other family members
  • Not go to work, school or other public spaces
  • Not use public transport or taxis
  • Ask family, friends or delivery services to do errands for you and arrange to leave items outside your door for you to pick up when they have gone
  • Avoid visitors coming into your home

You may need to self- isolate for up to 14 days to help reduce the spread of infection. For further information see https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/

Guidance on stay at home period has been revised from 12.3.20

 

If you are providing services in social, community care or residential care settings:

There is some specific advice for providers of these services here on the government website here.

In relation to cleaning;
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

 

Guidance on facemasks

During normal day-to-day activities facemasks do not provide protection from respiratory viruses, such as COVID-19 and do not need to be worn by staff in any of these settings. Facemasks are only recommended to be worn by infected individuals when advised by a healthcare worker, to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to other people. It remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected.

 

DWP Guidance  – Coronavirus support for employers, benefit claimants and businesses

 

Following announcements in the Budget, we are making temporary arrangements for those impacted by coronavirus.

 

Please share this information with your members, frontline workers and clients.

 

Information about coronavirus and claiming benefits is available on Understanding Universal Credit.

 

 

Guidance for Charities

The Charity Commission have issued guidance on reporting serious incidents linked to or arising from Corona virus where they have significant impact on a charity. This would include major or complete closure of a charities operations , major loss of income or financial impact and / or leading possible insolvency.

Where a charity thinks it might be affected due to the nature of its activities or service users but there is no impact yet, they do not need to make a report now. It is ultimately the responsibility of the charity trustees to decide whether an incident is significant and should be reported.

This has been updated on 13.3.20 as follows –

During the current uncertainty surrounding the spread of coronavirus, charities are urged to check the most up to date advice from Public Health England.

We’ve received many enquiries into our call centre about the reporting process on RSI. Unfortunately, our initial response was not as helpful as we would have liked. Therefore, we would like to clarify that charities should continue to report serious incidents using the current guidelines and their own judgement and we will advise if and when this situation changes.

 

What VCSE organisations can do

  • Brief your staff , volunteers and clients regularly
  • Ensure your contingency plans are in place and you know what essential services and activities you need to maintain and how to do so , as well as what can be stopped as less essential. Consider different ways of working , fro home and by phone or email rather than face to face.
  • Ensure people you support understand the situation and the actions they should take (particularly if they are unable to speak/read English). Help people have their own personal contingency plan for getting food, care or medication should they need to self-isolate.
  • Keep a note of clients you identify as being particularly vulnerable or isolated and consider how you can maintain contact with them should they need to self-isolate or should you need to ceased group or face to face meetings with them. This will help to identify if or where additional volunteer support might be directed collectively.
  • Notify SVS of any suggestions or specific needs you have identified to help us link and co-ordinate volunteers and resources across the area – contact ash@southamptonvs.org.uk directly and for cover please also copy to information@southamptonvs.org.uk

Try this useful Tool:

Covid – 19 Risk Assessment tool

 

Issued 5.3.20

Updated 9.3.20

Updated 12.3.20

Updated 12.3.20 x2

Updated 13.3.20

 

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