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Managing Sheltered Housing Services during COVID-19

A monthly update specifically designed for social landlords that are managing sheltered housing services during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

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This monthly update is specifically designed for social landlords who are managing Sheltered Housing Services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It aims to highlight current issues and provide practical advice and support.

The Housing Support Enabling Unit (HSEU) produces these updates on behalf of the SFHA and in association with SFHA members.

Any queries about this briefing should be directed to yvette.burgess@ccpscotland.org

In this briefing 

1. Covid-19 Vaccination 

The vaccination programme has been rolled out to health and social care staff, including sheltered housing staff, but progress in a couple of areas has been slow.

It has also proved problematic to access vaccination for staff who missed out initially perhaps because they turned down the original vaccination invitation or have come into post recently. This has been raised with the Scottish Government and at least one HSCP is going to organise a clinic for social care staff who have missed out so far.

Practice points:

It may be necessary to remind HSCPs that housing support/sheltered housing services are regulated social care services. There has been at least one example where those organising the vaccination programme have not understood this and initially tried to dissuade a housing support manager from requesting a vaccine.

2. Staff testing for Covid-19 underway in sheltered housing

As referred to in the February briefing, supplies of Lateral Flow Devise (LFD) testing kits are being delivered to sheltered housing services across Scotland. These supplies should enable staff to undergo twice-weekly tests for a month. Where a LFD test result is positive the staff member is required to undertake a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.

Sheltered housing providers have had some problems with the way the bottles of solution are distributed ie as a large bottle for each pack of kits. This means that where there are not enough packs for each member of staff then they are required to come into a work base to undergo the test rather than carry it out at home.  This is not ideal and has been raised with the Testing Directorate at the Scottish Government who are looking at supplying smaller bottles of solution and possibly provide smaller packs of test kits.

Discussions are also taking place with the Scottish Government and Cosla about the recovery of additional staffing costs to cover the time required for staff testing.

Practice points:

Latex alert in PCR kits

Most sheltered housing staff will be using LFD testing kits but there will be occasions when a PCR test is required and it is important to note that some PCR tests contain latex. The packs affected are labelled as such but please alert your staff to look out for this if they have a latex allergy.

The SG frequently asked questions have been updated to reflect this.

LFD distribution and helpline:

Here is a reminder of the general helpline to support care homes, care at home and housing support services who have opted to receive direct deliveries of Lateral Flow Device tests - 0800 008 6587.  

For Hub distribution of LFDs, the social care workforce can call the PPE support centre to be signposted to their local hub - 0300 303 3020.

If you still face difficulty organising the supply of LFD Test kits you can email the NSS NHS procurement service at nss.nationallabsprogramme@nhs.scot  

3. Access to PPE

As highlighted in the previous briefing, the Scottish Government has extended its PPE Triage and PPE Local Hubs system to assist social care providers that have difficulty accessing sufficient PPE through their usual suppliers. The current arrangements extend to the end of June 2021 and the Memorandum of Understanding that sets out the roles and responsibilities of all the various organisations involved has been updated. You can see the MoU here. The Scottish Government also issued a covering letter to accompany the revised MoU and confirmed once again that social care providers can recover the additional costs of PPE associated with the pandemic.

After the end of June 2021, the Scottish Government is planning to introduce a system whereby procurement of PPE is carried out centrally on behalf of social care providers. Social care providers will then purchase PPE from that central procurement service. A charging system will be introduced after further consultation. If you have any comments or views regarding a national system to procure PPEplease contact Yvette Burgess at yvette.burgess@ccpscotland.org 

4. Staff wellbeing

Support with mental health

The Scottish Government recently announced a new and confidential service to assist health and social care workers facing mental health issues.  You can find out more here.

Coaching for wellbeing 

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has launched a digital coaching service ‘Coaching for Wellbeing’ to support health and social care staff during COVID-19. It was launched a year ago but has been extended for another 18 months. You can find out more here.

5. Covid-19 Sustainability funding

The SG has decided to extend the COVID-19 sustainability funding for social care through to the end of June 2021. This may assist with the additional costs associated with the provision of care and/or support where services are commissioned by HSCPs. A letter has been issued by the Cabinet Secretary and Cosla and the guidance dated 22 December continues to apply. There are new frequently asked questions

6. Managing communal lounges

As lockdown restrictions start to ease tenants are understandably asking when their communal lounges will come back into use.  For the time being, different households are not allowed to meet indoors and at this stage we do not have a date when this will change – however, it does look likely that this will change within the next couple of months.

A group of housing association staff are developing a common approach to risk assessments and strategies for managing communal lounges in a COVID safe manner when the restrictions ease. They will share the result of their work in due course. If you would like to be involved in this work and are not already please contact Elaine O’Hanlon.

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