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Stepping up to the Covid Challenge - Part II

Right across the country TEC providers are mobilising, pulling out all the stops to ensure service users feel reassured and safe at this critical time. In the 2nd instalment of our two-part series on how the TEC sector is responding to COVID-19, we ask providers how they are adapting and diversifying to cope with new challenges.

(Clockwise from top left:) Hammad Butt, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham; Heather Flower, East Riding of Yorkshire Council; Rupert Lawrence, Head of amica24; Phil McComish,Trent & Dove Housing; Joanne Rosser, East Riding of Yorkshire Council; Mark Westall, Tendring District Council.

Tell us about any proactive services you are delivering?

Joanne Rosser: We’re looking at our high priority clients – those with underlying medical conditions, who are over 70 or who have no other contacts – and we’ll be proactively calling them to make sure everything is fine.

Mark Westall: We already do outbound calls for one of our sheltered housing schemes – my staff phoned them all recently to see if they would like a regular call during this challenging period. But we don’t have the resources to phone every one of our service users. However, the council has now shut its leisure centres and things like beach patrols are not necessary. As a result, we’re looking at how we redeploy council employees. One option is to arrange for certain staff members with key skills to phone vulnerable customers to make sure they are ok.

Phil McComish: As part of First Call’s service, every customer gets a visit every six weeks. With the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve had to adapt this proactive service. Now those people who would be visited receive a call from our team instead. We want to reassure our service users and make sure they are ok at this difficult time. A lot of people have been really worried about coronavirus and how it could be really serious for their age group. They really appreciate First Call phoning to check their wellbeing and knowing that at the touch of a button they can speak to someone for reassurance, day or night.

Rupert Lawrence: We are doing a lot of outbound calling work, offering reassurance to people. For example, if someone has told us they are self-isolating then we implement proactive calling. If someone tells us they have COVID-19 symptoms, we inform their housing association and we begin wellbeing check calls straight away.

How else are you adapting services?

Mark Westall: We’ve stopped all but urgent visits to residents. We’re not currently doing annual reviews, only visits after emergency responses or no responses. We’re only doing emergency installations, such as after hospital discharge.

Phil McComish: We’ve temporarily suspended our responder service until we can get enough PPE to ensure our staff and service users are safe. We wrote to every single customer to inform them of this situation and tell them we’re working hard to get hold of PPE.

Hammad Butt: We are now carrying out assessments with new clients over the telephone. Following the assessment, a member of the Careline Team will deliver the equipment to the service user for them to self-install at home. All equipment is provided with an easy to follow self-installation guide. In the event of any difficulties, service users can contact Careline.

Samantha Feather: Where it’s safe to do so, we will continue as required.Some customers will, if necessary, be requested to self-install. Once our technicians have dropped off the equipment, they will talk them through the installation. If the situation doesn’t allow for this to happen, then all our technicians, responders and welfare support workers can install the telecare for them, taking appropriate personal protective equipment into consideration.

Hammad Butt: We are expecting an increase in demand for our services if the outbreak continues to spread and the number of confirmed cases rise. To manage this, Careline have ordered additional stock to ensure there are enough alarms and peripherals to provide service users to keep them safe.

Mark Westall: We still let people pay in person for Careline via pay points. But this is a good time for customers to move over to direct debit and we will help them. If they aren’t able to pay in this more remote way or don’t want to, we won’t stop their telecare service. Instead, we are asking that they save the money they would normally pay for their Careline service charge and we will collect it in one lump at the appropriate time.

Rupert Lawrence: We are running an emergency service at the moment, focusing on life critical installations and serious faults and response services. We’ve been very busy getting personal protective equipment for these critical frontline TEC staff members.

Joanne Rosser: Our Welfare Support Service staff currently undertake visits to our sheltered housing customers. These visits will continue for those who wish to and then we’re planning to do phone calls or on the doorstep visits for those self-isolating, or we can see people through the window and talk them through any support they may require.

How are you supporting other services?

Hammad Butt: If there are a shortage of carers in the Borough, we can send vulnerable people basic telecare alarm units. For example, someone who might normally get a carer visit three times a day, may have a slightly reduced service. If they are only receiving a visit two times a day but they have a telecare alarm, then they can call Careline if they need to speak to someone and we can contact the care company - all without the person getting up from their bed. We’ve also been asked to deliver personal protective equipment to care sites, sheltered housing and supporting living blocks. Every council service is stretched and our Careline vehicles are able to deliver this PPE in between their normal journeys.

Rupert Lawrence: “amica24 has been working extensively with local services to ensure continuity of service provision and to enable them to cope with the additional pressures being placed upon them during the pandemic. We have been working with local responder services to secure them PPE supplies to be able to continue responding to people who have fallen and in-turn this lessens the pressure on the Ambulance Service who would otherwise have to respond. A significant area in which we are now supporting further is in support of hospital discharge; we have provided a range of technology solutions to facilitate discharge safely and in a timely manner, this includes use of pre-programmed solutions to ensure they can be delivered swiftly.

We continue to play a key role in the delivery of Technology Enabled Care packages and we are working with Social Workers and other stakeholders to look after vulnerable people particularly during this time where isolation is a real challenge; our use of proactive calling and reminder technology is helping to alleviate some of the issues around isolation and by supporting care and nursing teams to deliver services, we are helping to reduce overall pressures for Health and Care.”

We want to hear from you. Tell us how your TEC service is supporting service users and staff during the Coronavirus outbreak – email with your experiences.


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