Dear colleagues and stakeholders of The Heathcotes Group,

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, at Heathcotes we have been continuously monitoring the official advice and responding accordingly. We have acted quickly and decisively to implement the measures necessary to ensure the health and safety of everyone we support, and our co-workers and supply chain.

How our offices are operating

As a national business, we have been responding to the impact of the virus as quickly as possible, in line with guidance from the Government, and our local authority partners and stakeholders; our Head Office in Chesterfield is observing enhanced risk assessment and infection control protocols, and we are working with colleagues to ensure that they are aware of their own risk, and the signs and symptoms of the disease. We have enacted our BCP to enable the majority of our central services to work from home, and have limited our central functions visits to services, so that only essential visits are taking place.

We have adapted to a “new normal” where travel has been severely restricted and video and telephone conferences have replaced physical meetings. Our Business Continuity Plan allows access to our server from any location via a range of devices, and VPN connections mean that all connections to our core infrastructure are secure.

How this is impacting our work

In our 72 specialist services, enhanced risk assessment and infection control protocols have been implemented, and our Head of Quality, Elisabeth Haigh, has been appointed as Lead Officer in respect of communicating the latest updates and information to all our colleagues. We are avoiding opinion, rhetoric and panic, and issuing instructions in line with the official advice from Government, backed up by the Chief Medical Officer; we feel this is the best and most appropriate way to respond.

Everyone we support who has additional vulnerability, such as underlying health conditions or for age related reasons, has been identified, and a specific COVID-19 Risk Assessment has been produced for them, so that staff are clear about how best to keep them safe, and what to do in the event that they show symptoms.

Non-essential visitors to our services have been told to delay their visit until further notice; and essential visitors have been asked to carry out a simple risk assessment on themselves prior to visiting – and to observe enhanced infection control protocols before and during their visit.

Managers have access to a PSL for staffing agencies, should staff absence reach problematic levels; at this stage however, you will not be surprised to learn that our hardworking and dedicated Managers and Support Staff, have been sensible, pragmatic and resolute in their ability to balance the advice about COVID-19, with the need to maintain safe staffing levels.

We continue to be open to new admissions, but our Business Development Team will ask referrers to observe some additional protocols for service visits, and for some additional information around any new admissions, to ensure our staff and managers have all the information they need to keep people safe.

Family visits to services

Service Managers are in contact with families and friends of our service users, to make individual decisions about visiting the service; we do not want to restrict access to important social and family relationships, but we do have to be mindful of the risk to everyone – including staff – and how any cross-infection may impact on our ability to maintain safe staffing levels. For that reason, we are risk assessing each situation and tasking Managers with making a decision on each case, in the best interests of everyone involved.
As events continue to move at a fast pace, we will remain vigilant and provide updates with full transparency.

With best wishes,

Brendan Kelly

Managing Director – Heathcotes Group

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