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Managing sheltered housing services during the Covid-19 pandemic

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 the first in a series and is specifically designed for social landlords that are managing sheltered housing services during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The updates aim to highlight current issues and provide practical advice and support.

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

In addition to monthly updates, members have kindly shared some resources that they have produced as a direct response to the pandemic. These are also available on the SFHA website.

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


In this briefing:


1. Covid-19 vaccination

Sheltered housing staff are being vaccinated as they come within the first two priority groups. Tenants will be offered the vaccine on the basis of their age, once care homes residents have undergone vaccination. Details of the priority groups can be found here. The clinically very vulnerable will be offered the vaccine along with the 70-year-old age group – the fourth priority group, after people who are 75 years and over. This means that many sheltered housing tenants are likely to be offered the vaccine on the basis of age alone, rather than on the basis of having a health condition that makes them particularly vulnerable to Covid-19.

The Scottish Government has launched a publicity campaign and resources to help promote the vaccine and encourage take up. There is a leaflet and a video.

Practice points:

So far, the experience of sheltered housing providers is that the approach being taken by health and social care partnerships (HSCPs) and GPs towards sheltered housing staff and their tenants varies. Making contact with HSCPs has helped some housing associations to trigger invitations for vaccination.

Another point worth noting is that cleaning staff often have the main public facing role in sheltered housing during the pandemic and should be offered the vaccine along with other sheltered housing staff. HSCPs have varied in their response to such requests so far and so may need a reminder about the Scottish Government letter dated 28 January which clarifies that all relevant staff should be offered the vaccine, including non-clinical public facing roles.


2. Staff testing for Covid-19 has begun in sheltered housing

Supplies of 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 PCR test. Guidance is available on the Scottish Government website here.

If your service has not yet been contacted about staff testing and LFD supplies have not been organised, you can contact your HSCP.

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

A series of webinars has been delivered by the Scottish Government to assist staff and providers to understand how to conduct the tests. The sessions have been very popular and further dates may be arranged if there is a demand for them. The Scottish Government has also produced a video that explains how to conduct a LFD test.

Practice points

Employers can use and adapt the Scottish Government guidance about how to use LFD testing kits for their own staff. Bield has created a practical guide for its staff and for its managers – both are available on its website.

Covid Testing Support Service Helpline

A sector specific helpline for support with testing has been provided as part of the National Contact Tracing Service support infrastructure. The helpline is 0800 008 6587, and the service is available from 08:00 to 20:00, every day.

Information request

Some sheltered housing providers have been asked for information about numbers of test results by both the Scottish Government and their HSCPs. This duplication has been raised with the government, and it has been confirmed that HSCPs and local authorities can get this information from the NSS NHS or from the Care Inspectorate and, therefore, do not need to approach providers.


3. Access to PPE

Sheltered housing providers, along with other providers of social care, have been using the PPE social care triage and local hub systems when their usual PPE supply routes have failed. PPE supplied through these routes has been provided free of charge as set out in a memorandum of understanding (MoU). The MoU was due to come to an end on 31 March 2021, but the Scottish Government has recently announced an extension until 30 June 2021.

After the end of June, the Scottish Government is planning to introduce a system whereby procurement of PPE is carried out centrally on behalf of social care providers. A charging system will be introduced after further consultation.

If you have any comments or views regarding a national system to procure PPE, please contact Yvette Burgess at yvette.burgess@ccpscotland.org


4. Staff wellbeing

A reminder that the PRoMIS wellbeing hub is still available for health, social care and housing staff. The PRoMIS hub provides access to the Sleepio app which can usually only be used after paying a fee.


5. Setting rents and service charges at a time when services are restricted

The group has discussed how it has responded to requests from sheltered housing tenants that service charges are reduced due to communal facilities being closed and elements of services suspended. Ongoing overhead costs have meant that landlords have not generally been able to reduce charges. Looking ahead to charges in 2021/22, Link Housing Association’s approach to consulting with tenants about possible rent increases is set out on its website.


6. Covid-19 sustainability funding

The Scottish Government has announced in a letter that local mobilisation funding (LMF) to help social care providers deal with Covid-related expenditure will continue to the end of March 2021 (it was otherwise due to end at the end of November 2020). The fund assists with costs such as PPE; staffing costs associated with Covid, such as furloughed staff; as well as the costs of services not actually delivered due to the pandemic. New guidance has been issued by the Scottish Government and COSLA after the sector has highlighted problems with the scheme (i.e. delayed payments, onerous application processes, and disproportionate level of evidence of additional costs required).

Practice points

Whilst sheltered housing providers can apply for this funding for the social care/housing support element of their service, the guidance itself only relates to services commissioned by the IJB (see paragraph two). However, local authorities have been urged to ensure their commissioned services are funded adequately in the light of Covid – see the SPPN5/2020 procurement note.

We can help to escalate problems obtaining funding for additional PPE and can direct other problems to a Scottish Government working group that is meeting regularly to consider any issues with the LMF – please email
yvette.burgess@ccpscotland.org


7. Bonus of £500 for health and social care staff

The process for employers to claim the social care bonus – the £500 thank you payment for social care staff working in the third, voluntary, charitable and private sector – opened at 12:00 on1 February.

The claims are being administered by Scotland Excel, and the claims process is now live on the Scotland Excel website. It is open access i.e. login details will not be required.

The deadline for claims was 00:00 on 15 February but has now been extended to 00:00 on 28 February. Employers are being urged to complete and submit their claim as soon as possible. Due to the volume of claims, the Scottish Government is unable to provide a timetable for payments, but steps will be taken to make these as soon as is possible.

Practice point

The funding will be given to local authorities to pass on to employers and provider representatives have advised that employers will not be paying the bonus to staff until the funding has been passed on to them.

There is a frequently asked questions document on the Scottish Government website. If you have queries about eligibility, or any other aspect of the bonus, you can submit this as a possible question for the next edition of the FAQs using this email address: Socialcare500@gov.scot


The Housing Support Enabling Unit is a partnership initiative between Coalition of Care and Support Providers Scotland (CCPS) and Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), funded by the Scottish Government. CCPS is a limited company, registered in Scotland under the company number of SC279913 and is also a registered Scottish charity No. SC029199. The company’s registered office is at Norton Park, 57 Albion Road, Edinburgh EH7 5QY.

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