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SFHA Covid-19 briefing series: care and support

By Geraldine Begg, Technology Enabled Care in Housing (TECH) Programme Co-ordinator.

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SFHA has produced a series of 10 briefings to help social landlords through the coronavirus emergency. This blog focuses on our care and support briefing.

Over the past 10 weeks, our housing associations have responded with remarkable speed and agility to ensure their customers continue to receive the highest quality of care and support available and in the safest ways possible.  

Throughout this time, SFHA has worked in close partnership with CCPS to promote and interpret the extensive guidance produced by Scottish Government and Public Health for our members to support these frontline services and provide information about a range of resources. We continue to raise and seek resolution to the issues that housing associations are facing in relation to the provision of care and support services.  

Reliable access to sufficient levels of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) continues to be an issue. Whilst care and support providers are now able to source PPE through local hubs when their usual supply routes fail to deliver, the ability to order sufficient levels for housing support services continues to be an issue. SFHA is actively working to facilitate access to a national supply chain.

Meanwhile, the cost associated with additional PPE continues to mount. Members are reminded to continue recording all additional costs associated with Covid-19 to enable reimbursement through the sustainability funding made available to HSCPs to deal with the financial implications of coronavirus. 

The lack of a standardised approach across local authorities in relation to the process and associated timescales for reimbursement is creating delays to cashflow. CCPS has been working with the Scottish Government, chief financial officers and COSLA a to agree cost categories and continues to press for a standardised process to apply for reimbursement. To assist in identifying and reporting Covid-19 related costs, colleagues at CCPS have created a COVID-19 costs template setting out the types of additional costs providers are incurring during the crisis.

The government’s Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (TTIS) initiative is now underway, however, there are still several unanswered questions:

  • To date, the focus for routine testing has been placed on care homes, but when will we see an equivalent level of testing made available within sheltered and very sheltered housing settings and supported housing?  
  • When someone tests positive, will tracers know if the person lives in a communal living setting and has regular contact with care staff?
  • What impact will the 48-hour timescale for receiving test results have on services?
  • How will staff cohorts to be traced following a positive test, and how will services respond if groups of care/support workers receive test results mid-shift?

Contingency planning has been placed in the spotlight during the pandemic.The risk that staff will need to isolate for a two-week period each time they come into contact with someone who tests positive, will further test these plans.

Housing associations have reported the benefits they have found of using technology to overcome challenges in managing certain aspects of service delivery. The use of face to face communication systems and apps, remote door opening to enable access to contractors/deliveries and automated medication prompts have all gone to support remote working and at times reduced service provision.   The need to explore and adopt new ways of working will support contingency planning. To share ways that your housing association has been using technology to deliver care and support services to tenants, pleae email me at GBegg@sfha.co.uk and we will share these ideas with others.

Increasing numbers of tenants who are not normally vulnerable are needing tenancy sustainment support, with many needing help to understand the furlough rules and navigate the benefits system. We can expect that, as the furlough rules change at the end of next month (i.e. employers are expected to contribute to wages for furloughed workers), that the demand on support required may further increase. If you are experiencing issues relating to tenancy sustainment, please contact SFHA Membership Co-ordinator Gillian Duddy at GDuddy@sfha.co.uk

Those managing care homes and care at home services will be aware that the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No 2) Act has come into force and legislates for HSCPs and Health Boards to purchase 'distressed’ services. Given the devastating impact the pandemic is having on those living in care homes (mainly provided by the private sector), the Care Inspectorate is now required to produce fortnightly reports for parliament about any care home inspections it has carried out and what it has found. It is also required to report on deaths and cause of deaths in care homes, and it is, therefore, mandatory now that care homes provide this information on a daily basis.

SFHA’s care and support briefing will be updated as new guidance is produced and as other relevant resources become available. 


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