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Visits to our care homes – update 22.10.2020

We know that the restrictions on visits are difficult for our residents and their friends and relatives who are dearly missing each other, and we have received a lot of enquiries from relatives about the current situation over the last month.

Last week we shared the latest government guidance for visiting which applies to areas that are classified as medium risk level.  This guidance states clearly that visits in areas identified as Tier 2 (High Risk) should only go ahead in the case of exceptional circumstances such as end of life.  During the last week we’ve been working closely with public health to see if we could agree strictly managed arrangements for visits at our homes.

Unfortunately, we’ve had instruction today that we cannot restart onsite visits for relatives until regional visiting guidelines have been published which will set out how visiting can be safely managed in the region given our high alert status.  Regional public health teams are currently working on the guidelines, but they have not yet been agreed.

We know how much you’re missing your loved ones and we’re sorry that we can’t restart onsite visits yet.  Keeping our residents safe is our number one priority and we’ll continue to work closely with public health to agree a way to support our residents to have increased social interaction with their loved ones while continuing to keep them safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We’ll keep you updated as soon as we have any more information.

We know that the restrictions on visits are really difficult for our residents and their friends and relatives who are dearly missing each other and we have received a lot of enquiries from relatives about the current situation over the last month.  The newest guidance is available: www.gov.uk/government/publications/visiting-care-homes-during-coronavirus/update-on-policies-for-visiting-arrangements-in-care-homes

The newest guidance states clearly that visits in areas identified as Tier 2 ( HIGH RISK) should only go ahead in the case of exceptional circumstances such as end of life.

However we are committed to reviewing our visiting policy regularly and following advice from our Local Authority advisors, we are now able to consider visiting arrangements on an individual basis under strictly managed circumstances. This means that visiting is not a Foundation wide policy, but a service led, risk assessed decision.

We are reviewing each site to identify a weather appropriate designated visiting area outside of the care home in the grounds, that allows either 2 metres plus social distancing or has a physical perspex screen (like the ones used in supermarkets). This process may mean that visiting on some sites is available sooner than others and for that we can only apologise as we try to adapt to this ever changing situation. We will aim to have all sites able to accommodate visitors as soon as we can. However these may be weather dependant until appropriate, safe covered areas are available.

Visitors must wear PPE provided by ourselves and all infection control procedures must be followed.

Staff must be able to support the visit in order that all procedures are followed.

If the service is quarantined because of a positive case or outbreak, or the area, where that service is located moves into tier 3, then visiting will again unfortunately have to cease with immediate effect.

We know that it can be confusing with constantly changing information, and frustrating waiting for guidance to be published so thank you bearing with us as we try and find the best way to support our residents to have increased social interaction with their loved ones while continuing to keep them safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Your service will contact you directly as soon as visiting is available.

Percy Hedley Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Lisa Deane as its new Director of Residential Care and Safeguarding.

Lisa’s immediate remit is to ensure all residential services retain full compliance with Ofsted and CQC standards, with a particular focus on safeguarding, service user health and wellbeing, strong leadership, continuous improvement and staff development.

Lisa is an accomplished leader with a proven track record of business turnaround and improvement in residential services.

Carole Harder, CEO, commented: “Lisa brings exceptional experience to the role having worked at managing director level for a range of leading providers of both children’s and adult’s services who specialised in providing services for people with a range of complex needs. Her work in previous roles as the responsible and nominated individual within adult and children’s residential services will provide strong leadership to drive our journey of continuous service improvement.”

Closure of Bradbury View children’s home – 30.09.20

Statement about the decision to closure Bradbury View children’s home

Following a recent Ofsted inspection a compliance notice and suspension of the registration for our Bradbury View children’s home was served, which once met would allow the service to re-open.  However, it is with deep regret that we today (Wednesday 30 September) confirm our decision to close our Bradbury View children’s home.

Our six bed short break respite facility located at the same site is not affected by this decision.  This will remain temporarily closed due to the impact of COVID-19.

Bradbury View, located in the North East, was a 20-bed children’s home providing residential care for children and young people aged between 6 and 18-years-old, who have a learning difficulty and/or physical disability with additional needs.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, we became aware that the children’s home has experienced a number of very concerning issues which were reported to the relevant regulatory authorities including Ofsted. We cooperated fully, openly and with complete transparency with the resulting investigations.

The Ofsted report from its inspection on 3 September has now been published and; whilst we have challenged the factual accuracy of some of the details of the report, we accept the thrust of its main conclusions. The facility had fallen below the high standards we expected of its service provision.

A meeting has now taken place with Ofsted to discuss the concerns raised and the impact of having to move the children and young people out of the home on them and their families.

Rather than continue the uncertainty, by trying to put actions in place to enable the home to re-open whilst managing the impact of COVID-19 across all of our services, the Board made the decision that this residential home should not re-open in the near future.  We will now review how we best provide such a service for children in the future and to learn fully from the lessons which will come from an independent review.  Our priority remains to keep all of our service users safe, protect them and their families from harm, and minimise the impact of this decision on them.

We have been in discussion and are continuing to work with the parents and the local authorities involved by providing alternative residential placements or support transition to new placements.  The suspension resulted in eleven children and young people needing to find alternative placements, two of which have moved into the Foundation’s Adult Residential facilities all of which are rated good by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Any parent or carer who has concerns or worries about this can contact us at: foundation@percyhedley.org.uk

In terms of the staff at Bradbury View, a process of consultation will begin and, where possible, we will be offering staff alternative employment. We have a number of vacancies across the foundation in a range of both residential and education services. In the meantime, we have redeployed the staff and are protecting their terms and conditions while we work through this process. We have been liaising with their union who fully support our approach and support for our staff. About 50 members of staff are affected by this process.

The Board is commissioning an external independent review of events so that any learnings are clear and implemented so that we can rebuild the trust and confidence of all families, supporters and commissioners to strengthen the future services we provide.

We are sorry that the children, young people and their families are having to go through this experience.  We want to re-assure everyone that any concerns are being listened to and their views will help shape the future.  We are co-operating with all the regulatory relevant authorities and will continue to do so at every stage of this process.

We will not be making any further comment at this time. We will now review the publication of the final Ofsted report in more detail and agree the way forward for the Bradbury View facility.

Jonathan Jowett, Chairman

Carole Harder, Chief Executive

We are absolutely delighted to announce that one of our amazing teachers from Northern Counties School, Ashleigh, has won The Pearson’s National Teaching Silver Award for Outstanding New Teacher of the Year. She is one of just 76 Silver winners for outstanding commitment to changing the lives of the children they work with every day.

Ashleigh works in our Autism provision at Northern Counties School and regularly goes above and beyond for our wonderful students. She has designed Christmas pumpkins as opposed to Halloween pumpkins-due to a pupil’s fear, organised trips to museums, raised funds through pupil pop-ups and has put together a series of Lego therapy sessions.

Ashleigh is now in the running for one of just 14 Gold Awards, later in the year, in a programme which will be broadcast on the BBC.

This morning we surprised Ashleigh with the fantastic news in a socially distanced assembly with some of her wonderful students, as well as life size photos of her mum, brother and friends Lauren and Austen! Staff from all over the foundation also joined in an online celebration to congratulate their colleague.

Colleague Carra-Lynn said “Ashleigh is a pleasure to work with, gives everything to all of the kids.  She is so passionate about teaching and we’re lucky to have her.”

Feedback from families included Issac’s mum Sarah, who said “Ashleigh did an amazing job to bring Issac on, reducing the amount of support he needed and built his confidence.”  Billy’s parents said, “Billy has settled in beautifully in the short amount of time he’s been here.” As well as Ashleigh’s student Dylan who was keen to personally congratulate her “well done for winning the award, you’re a great teacher.”

Jo Allen our Headteacher at Hedleys Northern Counties School, said:

“Ashleigh’s dedication to her role of teaching young autistic people who present with significant communication difficulties and behaviours that challenge was celebrated by her students, colleagues and the parents of current and past students.

“As a new teacher, who has progressed from starting out as a Special Support Assistant in the school in 2015, she is an shining example of the type of people we really need in the teaching profession and has an intuitive understanding of what each of her students’ needs are in order to progress. Today Ashleigh thanked the students and her colleagues and is now looking forward to finding out later in the year if she has won the Gold Award.”

Ashleigh said “The only reason I’ve won this award is because support staff are amazing and the students are the best in the world.”

You deserve it Ashleigh, well done!

Dear parents and family members

At the start of September, we welcomed back all of our students in our schools and college and have seen a gradual increase in service users attending our day services.  This means that we’ve had the largest number of staff, students and service users in our buildings since March when we closed due to the COVID-19  pandemic.

We are following government guidance to keep everyone as safe as we can and work closely with education, social care and health colleagues in local authorities. As the situation is changing daily, we are all closely monitoring the current changes regarding local lockdowns and will follow any guidance issued on this.

You might have seen in the news or media that there has been an increase in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the North East in the last couple of weeks and the local authorities have been asking us all to make sure we’re doing what we can to prevent the spread of infection.

This increase is already having an impact on schools, colleges and workplaces across the region.  To minimise the spread of infection, students and service users have been placed in bubbles.  If a student/service user displays any symptoms while in school, college, or day services then arrangements will be made for them to return home and you will need to arrange a test. If the test result returns a negative result, then you can return to services.  If anyone that has been in school, college or day services and is confirmed as a positive case we will contact all parents/service users and follow advice given by Public Health England and we may be advised to close all or part of a “bubble”.

The increase in cases and with government test and trace programme now in place, more people are being contacted and advised to self-isolate.  This is also having a significant impact on our staffing levels, with higher levels of absence than we have previously seen during the pandemic because some colleagues are having to self-isolate with their household even if they don’t have any symptoms themselves, in line with government guidance.

This impact may mean that there are times where we don’t have enough staff or staff with the required training to support students or service users safely.  If this happens, we may need to send them home until the situation is resolved.  We’d take every possible action to avoid this and would only do this as a last resort, but our priority is to keep all students and service users safe. If your child/family member is affected, we will inform you as soon as we possibly can and support with any necessary arrangements. Where possible, home learning will continue as per lockdown, if this becomes a reality.

It’s really important that we all do everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Here’s a useful guide to help you know when you should keep your child or family member at home:

Parental Covid-Isolation Guidance 14th September 2020 all foundation

Thank you for your continued support.

Carole Harder

Chief Executive

We’ve had urgent information from Newcastle City Council advising us to close our care homes in Newcastle to non-essential visitors from today as it has raised its COVID Control Plan to amber following a spike in cases across the region.
 
Given the vulnerability of our residents if they were to contract COVID-19 we will be following the advice given and are temporarily closed for to all non-essential visitors from today (11 September 2020).
 
We’d like to reassure you that we have sought urgent further advice from the Local Authority to establish exactly what this means for us and to see whether there is any way we can safely maintain contact between our residents and their families.  We will work closely with the local authority and public health and keep you updated at the earliest opportunity if we are able to change this decision.
We know how difficult this will be for our residents and their families but trust that your continued support will enable us to keep your loved ones safe.

Visiting residents at our care homes

A couple of weeks ago we reviewed our visiting policy for residential services in line with some new government guidance that was published.

We know that the restrictions on visits are really difficult for our residents and their friends and relatives who are dearly missing each other and we have received a lot of enquiries from relatives about the new policy over the last couple of weeks.

We committed to reviewing our visiting policy regularly and following a review this week are please to say that we can change ease our restrictions on the number of constant visitors per resident from 1 person to 2 people from the same household (no children under 16).   Visits must continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines and in a designated visiting area in an outside space.   In the next couple of weeks we’re going to be doing a more detailed review as risk assessment for each of our residential homes and will agree a policy for each home.  We’ll keep you updated with changes as soon we have the information ready.

Residents visiting relatives at home

The government has not yet published guidance that confirms we can start to support visits away from the care home and how to safely manage these visits.  We’re checking daily for the guidance and as soon as it is published we will review and share an update on our plans for managing visits away from the home within the guidance.

We know that it can be confusing with constantly changing information, and frustrating waiting for guidance to be published so thank you bearing with us as we try and find the best way to support our residents to have increased social interaction with their loved ones while continuing to keep them safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The government published new guidance on visits to care homes on 22 July 2020

Visiting care homes during coronavirus

The new guidance sets out that we must contact the local director for public health to get agreement that we can start completing risk assessments and reviewing our policy.  On Friday 24 July, we received confirmation from public health that we can continue to offer visits.

Today, we reviewed our visits policy in line with the new government guidance.  Although the new guidance mirrors our current visitor policy across many areas, there are a number of changes we need to make to our policy in order to make sure that we are following the current guidance.

  • We will only be able to offer visits for one consistent visitor per resident
  • We will complete visiting plans for each resident
  • We will be asking all visitors to complete a test and trace form and sign up to a ‘responsible visitor protocol’
  • We’re asking all visitors to wear face coverings (unless any exemptions have been agreed with the home manager)

We’re updating our visitor information and will publish updated information later this week.

In the meantime, here is a summary of what you need to know:

Image summarising change in policy for visiting care homes