Message from Chair of Trustees, Jonathan Jowett:
“After 10 years’ service, our Chief Executive (CEO), Carole Harder, has decided to step down as our CEO. Having steered the organisation through a number of challenges over the years including a major pandemic, Carole feels that now is the right time for her to step down and make the most of life’s opportunities, which includes travelling the world as the travel restrictions ease.
Carole will leave us at the end of April, with our best wishes for the future. Our Executive Team will continue to run the organisation in the immediate term, and the Trustees are hoping to have an Interim CEO appointed as quickly as possible, who will remain in place whilst we undertake a search for a permanent replacement.”
Read the full letter for more information:
Changes to visiting residents at our care homes are coming soon!
Following the government announcement on Monday 22 February, we are expecting changes to the care home visiting rules to come into effect from 8 March as part of step one of the government’s lockdown exit plan.
We are waiting for guidance to be published next week to tell us more about what this looks like.
We’ll contact families and share more information as soon as we have it.
We know you have a lot of questions and are keen to know what this means so thanks for your patience.
Help us spread some love – decorate a heart
We promise to put people at the heart of everything we do and we need you to help us spread the love across Percy Hedley by decorating a heart!
All you need to do is print off one (or more) of the heart colouring sheets below, decorate it and share a picture of your creation. We’d love as many of our supporters as possible to decorate their own hearts. It’s also a great lockdown activity to do at home with your family.
So if you have any budding artists at home (you included!), just print out the sheet from the link below, decorate and email to email@example.com
We’re going to be sharing all of the hearts in a virtual gallery on our social media channels and our website so watch this space!
This has been an extraordinary year for the Foundation which has brought new challenges and opportunities as we have responded to the unprecedented circumstances as a result of the pandemic. We continue to work with our staff, Public Health England, commissioners and unions to ensure service users and staff are safe. The pandemic continues to disrupt our lives, and last week, the Prime Minister announced another national lockdown as the number of positive cases of COVID-19 increased across the country. I wanted to share an update on what’s happening across the Foundation since the announcement last week.
As a provider of frontline services to some of the most vulnerable people in our community, most services have remained open throughout the pandemic, providing homes and vital support for our service users. In the last couple of weeks, there has been an increase in the number of positive cases and our teams continue to do an amazing job making sure that they keep services running wherever it is safe to do so. This is not easy and there are times where staffing is reduced and we have to take quick decisions. For example, this means we may need to send pupils, young people and service users home until staff return from isolation. We take every possible action to avoid this and would only do so as a last resort. If your child/family member is affected, we will inform you as soon as we possibly can and support with any necessary arrangements.
Across the Foundation the guidance we follow differs depending on the setting (ie Education or Social care) so we monitor government guidance very closely. We also work closely with our Local Authority education and social care commissioners, Public Health colleagues and trade unions. We monitor the situation closely and where there are positive cases of COVID-19 in our college, student or service user population, we follow isolation guidance and complete required Local Authority tracing protocol to identify close contacts of the positive case. Sometimes this means we need to close all or part of a bubble and ask the people in it to isolate at home. We try to update all families with what is happening as quickly as we can, but please bear with us if it takes us a little longer than we would like to get information out to anyone who is not directly affected.
The request from the government is to stay at home wherever possible, and across our schools and college, some of our students are now learning from home. We continue to get positive thanks for our fantastic staff teams who have worked hard to set up remote learning for students. I would also like to say a huge well done to all our students and their parents who are helping them to do the home learning – you are all doing a fantastic job. Our teams will be checking in with you regularly to see if there is any other support you need during the lockdown.
The planning and implementation of the rapid or Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing for staff, students and service users is well advanced across all sites for those who agree to complete the regularly tests. This will help us prevent the spread of COVID-19; and support us in managing the impact on staff through the ability to implement serial testing where sanctioned by government guidance.
Our promise is to put people at the heart of what we do, and as CEO, I am extremely proud of the commitment, resilience, and agility that staff across the organisation have shown this year through challenging circumstances.
As we now look forward to a new future with COVID-19 as part of our lives for the near future I would like to show my deepest gratitude to carers, parents and families and once again to the Percy Hedley team who I see making such a difference every day to people’s lives, and who will give us the strength and resilience to continue to deliver in the coming year.
These are unprecedented times, and we have faced challenges we never thought we would over the last 12 months. I know how difficult this is for everyone, and I would like to say a huge thank you for all your continued support.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us and we will respond as quickly as we can.
Carole Harder, Chief Executive
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:
Thank you for your continued support.
As promised earlier in the week, we’ve updated our visitor information for families visiting their loved ones at our care homes. You can find the new video here
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.
We’re working to understand what the latest update from the Prime minister means for our schools, college and our staff. We know that all our parents and staff are anxious to know what is happening and we’ll continue to update you all as we know more so please bear with us.
We’re also getting a large amount of enquiries to head teachers, college principal and other key staff which we’ll work through as quickly as possible.
Thanks for your patience