Coronavirus – latest information for Longhurst Group Colleagues

 This page was updated: 03/06/2021

This page includes key information and advice for Longhurst Group colleagues about how the organisation is responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the steps colleagues should take.

This page will be regularly updated as the picture changes so please continue to monitor this page for the latest information.


Photo by Lison Zhao on Unsplash

Photo by Lison Zhao on Unsplash

With coronavirus restrictions steadily continuing to lift, infection rates reducing, and the number of people being vaccinated increasing, we can look to the future with cautious optimism.

As we relish the opportunity to see family and friends, return to different forms of exercise, get a long overdue haircut, or enjoy a shivering outdoor beverage or two, life is beginning to feel more normal.

While there are so many reasons to be positive, including greater possibilities for colleagues to meet in person, it’s crucial that we continue to do absolutely everything we can to keep each other safe and help control the virus.

This page includes information about how we can do just that, including guidance around using lateral flow tests, as well a reminder of the tools and support available to help people with their wellbeing.


Lateral flow tests – NEW 03/06/2021

As restrictions continue to ease and our connection with others increases, the Government is encouraging people to regularly carry out a lateral flow test to ensure we can safely take the next steps out of the pandemic.  The free rapid tests, which are now available to everybody in England regardless of whether they have symptoms, can be ordered online or collected from your local pharmacy or coronavirus testing centre. 

With one in three people that have coronavirus not displaying any symptoms, regular testing is essential for identifying new variants and stopping individual cases from becoming outbreaks.  

Anyone can now access the lateral flow tests for themselves and their family to use twice a week, in line with clinical guidance. 

Colleagues who are planning to attend an office or meet with other colleagues or customers are strongly advised to take a lateral flow test beforehand and only continue with their plans if a negative result is returned. 

Tests can be self-administered and results are shown within 30 minutes. Lateral flow tests will be made available at offices in due course but, to avoid unnecessary travel, colleagues are advised to take one at home on the morning of the day they’ve planned to attend an office or meet with others. 

If test results are negative, colleagues are reminded of the importance of continuing to follow all of the usual health and safety guidance in relation to coronavirus, such as maintaining social distance and wearing face coverings as appropriate. 

*Please note that if you’ve been in contact with someone who has Covid-19 symptoms or has tested positive for Covid-19, either since their symptoms started or in the 48 hours before their symptoms started, or in the 48 hours before their positive test result, you must follow the rules around self-isolation, even if you test negative on a lateral flow test.

If testing at home, people are required to register their results online or by calling 119. If you get a positive result, you should self-isolate and order PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. You can find out more about this here

For more information about lateral flow tests and how to order them, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

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Our offices – updated 03/06/2021

Colleagues are reminded that all visits to an office should be for essential work and agreed by their line manager.

If you’ve not yet been asked to return to an office, you should only visit if it's essential for you to do so.

Any visit to an office for essential use must be agreed with your line manager.

In line with the approach we’ve taken throughout the pandemic, if you're able to work from home then you should absolutely do so.

When visiting an office, please continue to follow the health and safety guidance in place, ensuring you follow the steps outlined below to keep yourself and others safe.

Before visiting

Before visiting an office, you must take the following six steps to prepare:

  1. Only visit an office if it’s essential for you to do so.
  2. Agree the visit with your line manager.
  3. Book a desk using the online booking form.
  4. Familiarise yourself with the health and safety guidance.
  5. Colleagues are encouraged to download and activate the NHS Track and Trace app.
  6. It’s strongly advised that you take a lateral flow test on the morning of your visit to an office, and only carry out the visit if you return a negative test. 

When visiting

If you're attending an office, it’s imperative that you take responsibility for your own health and safety, and that of others.

When visiting an office, you must follow these three guidelines:

  1. Sign the log-in book when you arrive and leave. Colleagues are also encouraged to scan the displayed NHS Track and Trace app QR code upon their arrival.
  2. Use the hand sanitiser provided, follow the desk hygiene guidance and maintain social distancing at all times.
  3. The wearing of face coverings when walking around the office is also encouraged.

More guidance can be found here

What to do if you test positive after visiting an office

If you test positive for coronavirus or are identified as having been in close contact with someone who's tested positive, it's imperative that you inform your line manager and People Services straight away. If you've visited one of our offices in the seven days prior to testing positive for coronavirus or being contacted by Test and Trace, please ensure you make People Services aware of this when you contact them.

Our offices – key information

The section below will be updated as and when further information is available.

Boston

The Boston office is now open five days a week, but the number of people visiting is limited to those that absolutely need to visit the office, and strict social distancing measures need to be followed.

  • Desks have been made available based on the capacity to ensure social distancing. This means that fewer desks will be used, and colleagues will not be working in as close proximity.
  • Colleagues will only be able to book up to seven days in advance. 
  • Bookings will be limited and on a first come, first served basis. 

Booking a workspace

Colleagues have the option of morning or afternoon bookings.

  • Morning bookings are valid from 9am to 12pm
  • Afternoon bookings are valid from 1pm to 4pm.

Important information

  • Before making a booking, please make your line manager aware and gain their approval.
  • Please also ensure that you sign in and out of the building using the log-in sheets provided. 
  • Before attending the Boston office, it’s imperative that they familiarise themselves with an office induction document and our guidance around desk hygiene

Booking form

Rushden

The Rushden office is now open five days a week, but the number of people visiting is limited to those that absolutely need to visit the office, and strict social distancing measures need to be followed.

  • Desks have been made available based on the capacity to ensure social distancing. This means that fewer desks will be used, and colleagues will not be working in as close proximity.
  • Colleagues will only be able to book up to seven days in advance. 
  • Bookings will be limited and on a first come, first served basis. 

Booking a workspace

Colleagues have the option of morning or afternoon bookings.

  • Morning bookings are valid from 9am to 12pm
  • Afternoon bookings are valid from 1pm to 4pm.

Important information

  • Before making a booking, please make your line manager aware and gain their approval.
  • Please also ensure that you sign in and out of the building using the log-in sheets provided. 
  • Before attending the Rushden office, it’s imperative that they familiarise themselves with an office induction document and our guidance around desk hygiene

Booking form

Rutland VAR

Retaining office space at Rutland VAR

Based on what we’ve learned during the Coronavirus pandemic, our long-term vision remains to provide the best possible service to our customers and realise our vision, while working from fewer offices and travelling less.

As we seize this opportunity to think about how and where we’ll work, we’ve made a decision about the future of the Rutland VAR office in Oakham.

In the last few months, we’ve assessed the long-term future of the Rutland office and carefully considered the facilities we are likely to need.

The survey issued to all office-based colleagues in recent weeks will help us gain a clearer picture of the office space we’ll need in the future, at Rutland and other locations. But with our existing lease being up for renewal and negotiations taking place with Rutland VAR, we’ve had to prioritise understanding the space we need and make a decision.

After speaking to colleagues based at the office and gaining a full understanding of the logistical requirements of their role, as well as assessing the current office space and other nearby alternatives, we have decided to continue leasing a ground-floor space at Rutland VAR.

It is anticipated that this space will primarily be used by members of the Assistive Technology team, as a base between appointments with customers and to store key equipment.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, colleagues attending this office will be required to use a booking system to enable social distancing.

Colleagues outside of the Assistive Technology team will continue to work from home, both in the shorter and longer term.

In the coming weeks, as the results of our Returning Stronger survey are analysed and recommendations are made, we’ll have a better idea of the future requirements of colleagues.

Where absolutely necessary, alternative arrangements may be made for colleagues who are struggling to work from home, particularly in the shorter-term. This will be done on an individual basis and in conjunction with their line manager.

All colleagues based at Rutland VAR have already been made aware of these developments.

Once the new space is ready, a decision will be made about how and when it will reopen for a small number of colleagues to access.

All offices – site managers – updated 03/06/2021

Anybody who needs to visit an office for essential purposes should first agree this with their line manager and then contact the relevant site manager to arrange the best day and time to visit an office.

To reserve a desk space at Boston, please read the booking arrangements above and complete the booking form.

Site Managers have been appointed for most of our offices. Details of these are listed below:

  • Beechdale, Walsall: Sarah Lowe
  • Boston: Nick Worboys and Rob Griffiths
  • Bedworth: Joely Copson (supported by Lily Seddon)
  • Birmingham: Jackie Harris
  • Grimsby: Denny Batty
  • Lincoln: Chris Parkinson
  • Nottingham: Andrena White
  • Peterborough: Mark Oldaker
  • Rushden: Thomas Purdy
  • Rutland VAR/Oakham: Charlotte Holley. 

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Working in customers' homes

The latest government guidance makes it clear that tradespeople, including our contractors, can continue to enter people’s homes.
 
We remain committed to providing both routine and emergency repairs, prioritising emergencies, as well as ongoing or planned work where it’s needed, to keep customers safe and secure.
 
With the likelihood that our contractors will be affected by operatives testing positive for the virus or needing to self-isolate, we’ll continue to review this position over the coming weeks.
 
All of our contractors will continue to follow health and safety guidance and have the necessary risk assessments in place to help keep customers safe and reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
 
Before agreeing to schedule an appointment, our contractors will check whether anybody at the address has coronavirus or is displaying any of its associated symptoms.
 
More information about the services we’ll continue to provide our customers can be found here.
 
Social distancing guidance, risk assessments and other safety measures must continue to be followed in all settings.

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Track and trace for Coronavirus

Coronavirus testing – updated 03/06/2021

If you have Coronavirus symptoms, you should arrange for a PCR test within five days of becoming symptomatic. Tests can be arranged at gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test. Lateral flow tests aren’t designed to be used by those with Coronavirus symptoms.

If you're contacted by the NHS Test and Trace team because you’ve been in close contact with somebody who has tested positive, you must let People Services and your line manager know.

If the contact occurred during your work within a Care and Support service, whether that be with colleagues, residents or service users, a risk assessment will be carried out.

This will take into account the use (or otherwise) of PPE during the likely exposure, and you will be advised on the requirement to self-isolate.

NHS COVID-19 App – Track and Trace

The Government has launched a mobile phone app to support the NHS Track and Trace service.
 
The app is seen as a key part of the fight against Coronavirus in England and Wales.
 
The app is used alongside traditional contact tracing to notify users if they come into contact with someone who later tests positive for Coronavirus.

Unique QR codes have already been installed in the reception areas of the Birmingham, Boston and Rushden offices and this will be replicated at other offices soon.

If you're visiting an office, please ensure that you have downloaded the NHS Track and Trace app and use it to scan the QR code upon entering the office. Please also continue to use the log sheets provided in reception to sign in and out of the office.

You can find out more about the new app and how to use it in the videos below. 

Managers of Care and Support colleagues are asked to remind members of their team to disable the app or turn off their phones when working in our schemes – but only when they are wearing full PPE – so as to avoid false alerts.

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Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Executive Director of Care and Partnerships, Louise Platt and Director of Care and Support, Bernadette Farrell, have recorded short videos to remind Care and Support colleagues of the importance of continuing to follow all of the guidance provided around social distancing and the donning and doffing PPE. 

Using PPE correctly

Our Director of Care and Support, Bernadette Farrell, has recorded a short video to remind Care and Support colleagues of the importance of continuing to follow all of the guidance provided around social distancing and the donning and doffing of PPE.

PPE – our guidance and processes

You will have heard about the struggles the NHS is having in providing adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to their staff.

We are facing challenges of our own but would like to reassure colleagues that we are prioritising the issue of PPE to where it is needed the most to ensure that Care and Support colleagues providing personal care, or those in close proximity with residents, have the right protective equipment.

As with key workers in other sectors, Care and Support colleagues who are providing services to customers but are still able to follow the government guidance around social distancing while doing so, have not been issued with PPE.

A dedicated team, set up to help us to maintain the best possible care and support service, is working hard to procure as much equipment as we can to help us through the coming weeks.

Louise Platt has also recorded a video covering the guidance and processes we have in place for PPE.

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Living and working during the pandemic – updated 03/06/2021

Coronavirus: colleague wellbeing

  Coronavirus: colleague wellbeing

At Longhurst Group we understand the importance of supporting colleagues with their health and wellbeing, as well as enhancing their economic resilience.

To support colleagues going forwards, as well as helping you through these challenging times, we have created a page that outlines our free employee assistance programme and how you can access up-to-date financial information from CFED. Follow this link to find out more:

  Coronavirus: colleague wellbeing and support

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Coronavirus and travel – updated 03/06/2021

Essential travel

As outlined above, please don’t travel between offices or other work locations unless it’s essential. If you feel it’s essential for you to travel, please speak to your line manager first and follow the relevant procedures.

Foreign travel

Longhurst Group’s guidance

While we continue to face an uncertain and unpredictable situation, the Group would advise colleagues to think very carefully about making new arrangements to travel outside of the UK in the coming weeks and months.

Colleagues should follow government advice and avoid any non-essential travel to countries where quarantine measures are in place upon your return.

Colleagues travelling to any country should be mindful that quarantine restrictions upon your return to the UK could be introduced or reinstated at any point.

If you’d be unable to fulfil your normal duties during any quarantine period then – in line with government guidance – you’re advised not to make new arrangements to travel outside of the UK, unless this travel is deemed as essential.

Colleagues who are able to work from home will continue to do so during any quarantine period following their holiday.

In line with previous guidance we’ve issued, if you made travel arrangements after 1 May 2020 and are not able to continue your role at home, you’ll have to take additional annual leave, unpaid leave or a combination of both, to cover any quarantine period.

If in doubt, please discuss this situation with your line manager or speak to People Services for further guidance.

Government guidance - the current position

There has been a degree of confusion over Government advice about travelling to and from countries on the amber list. The most consistent message has been for people to avoid travelling to a country on the amber list unless it’s for essential travel.

Travel outside of the UK remains limited and subject to the rules implemented by different countries. You should check government guidance on travelling to specific countries before your journey.

If you’re travelling to back to England following some time out of the country, what you need to do upon your return depends on where you’ve been in the 10 days before you arrive.

If you’ve been in a country or territory on the:

  • Green list
    You must take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test on or before the second day after you’ve returned.
  • Amber list
    You must quarantine in the place you’re staying (ie at home) and take two COVID-19 tests.
  • Red list
    You must quarantine in a hotel and take two COVID-19 tests.

You can’t currently enter the UK if you’ve been in or through a country on the red list unless you’re British, Irish or you have the right to live in the UK.

You must follow these rules even if you've been vaccinated.

The latest list information about which countries are on which list can be found here.

Before booking a trip or travelling abroad, please check this list to see whether you’ll be required to self-isolate or quarantine for 10 days upon your return.

If visiting a country on the amber list, you’ll need to take the following steps:

Before you travel to England you must:

  • Take a COVID-19 test.
  • Book and pay for day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 travel tests – to be taken after arrival in England.
  • Complete a passenger locator form.

On arrival in England you must:

  • Quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days.
  • Take a COVID-19 test on or before day two and on or after day eight.

You can find out more about quarantine and taking COVID-19 tests here.

Children aged four and under don’t need to take the day two or day eight test.

You may be able to end quarantine early if you pay for a private COVID-19 test through the Test to Release scheme.

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Falling ill with Coronavirus – advice for colleagues – updated 03/06/2021

Guidance around self-isolating

With Coronavirus cases on the rise and contact tracing identifying an increasing number of people who may have come into close contact with somebody that has tested positive, it's important to remember what processes to follow if you're required to self-isolate.

Whether you have tested positive for Coronavirus or you're self-isolating because you have symptoms or have been identified as being in close contact with someone that has tested positive, it's imperative that you inform your line manager and People Services straight away.

Even if you're able to work from home and feeling well enough to do so, it's absolutely crucial that you make your manager and People Services aware that you are self-isolating, so that we can build up a clear picture of the number of colleagues experiencing this situation.

Further guidance about when you need to self-isolate and what you should do is detailed below: 

When should I self-isolate?

You are required to self-isolate for at least 10 days if:

     
  • You test positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) or show symptoms
  • You have been in close contact* with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus.
  •  

You are required to self-isolate for 14 days if:

     
  • You live with someone who has tested positive or has symptoms.
  • Someone in your support bubble has tested positive or has symptoms.
  • You are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate.
  •  

*Close contact is defined as: 

    • Face-to-face contact (within one metre), with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus.
    • Being within two metres of someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus, for more than 15 minutes.
    • Travelling in a small vehicle (such as a car) with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus.
    • Travelling in a large vehicle or plane near someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus.

When don't I need to self-isolate?

You don't need to self-isolate if:

  • A member of your household is required to self-isolate but doesn’t have symptoms (This could include children sent home from nursery or somebody contacted by NHS Test and Trace). If the individual develops symptoms, colleagues would then need to self-isolate.
  • You work in Care and Support providing personal care and come into contact with a colleague or customer who has tested positive or has symptoms, as long as you were wearing appropriate PPE while in contact with this person.
  • You have been at work with a colleague who has tested positive or has symptoms, but the workplace is COVID-secure and has followed government guidelines.
What happens if I become ill or have to self-isolate?

Sickness leave and pay

Visit Coronavirus: working, pay and what it means for you for a full review of the Group's work and pay arrangements during the Coronavirus pandemic 

Pre-existing health issues

If you have significant health issues and are concerned you may be at higher risk of contracting coronavirus, please speak to your line manager and ensure that people People Services are aware that you have consider yourself to be at risk. If you are well enough and happy to do so, please continue to come to work or work from home, if you are able to do so.

If you develop any of the symptoms associated with the virus, please seek immediate advice from NHS 111 and contact your line manager so that a risk assessment can be conducted.

Self-isolation guidance for health and care settings

Public Health England has published updated guidance on the management of people in health and social care settings according to exposure, symptoms and test results. 

The self-isolation period has reduced from 14 to 10 days for health and social care workers. If you are returning to work following a coronavirus test, there are two flowcharts that indicate the process to follow, whether you are symptomatic or asymptomatic.

The isolation period remains at 14 days for care home residents and for anybody (including all care and support colleagues) who has been admitted to hospital due to a confirmed case of Covid-19. 

Guidance for colleagues working in care settings

If you have been admitted to hospital as a result of Covid-19, you should isolate for 14 days from your first positive PCR test result. As indicated above, this applies to all care and support colleagues admitted to hospital as a result of Covid-19.

If you’re notified as a contact of a confirmed case of Covid-19 in the community (outside the health or social care setting or your place of work), you should inform your line manager and self-isolate for 10 days, in line with guidance for non-household contacts.

This advice should be followed regardless of the results of any previous SARS-CoV-2 PCR test or antibody test results. A positive antibody result signifies previous exposure, but it is currently unknown whether this correlates with immunity, including protection against future infections.

Residents who are known to have been exposed to a confirmed Covid-19 patient (an exposure similar to a household setting), should be isolated or cohorted only with residents who do not have Covid-19 symptoms but also have been exposed to COVID-19 residents, until 14 days after last exposure. This also applies to residents who have previously recovered from Covid-19 and have been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case.

Guidance for colleagues working in supported living

If you test positive for Covid-19, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the date of the test, even if you are asymptomatic.

Your household should also stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from the day the test was taken. If any member of the household develops symptoms of Covid-19 during the 10-day period, they should continue to stay at home and isolate for 10 days after the onset of their symptoms, in line with the stay at home guidance. The individual should also arrange a test to check if they have Covid-19.

Coronavirus-related absences: reporting an absence and returning to work

Coronavirus-related absences: reporting an absence and returning to work

Reporting a Coronavirus-related absence

It’s crucial that all colleagues report any Coronavirus-related absences to People Services.

If a colleague or a family member have any symptoms which require them to be absent from work, or they’ve been told they need to shield, please also pass this on to People Services.

If a member of your team has symptoms but is still working from home or they have been tested for Covid-19, either because they’re unwell or as part of a local testing scheme for care and support workers, please inform People Services to ensure we have an accurate picture of who is affected across the business.

  Reporting an absence
Please report absence to the People Services Team on 01205 319623 or by email to peopleservicesteam@longhurst-group.org.uk

 Advice and further information
For more information about the procedure for coronavirus-related absence, please read the latest coronavirus-related absence form.

If you’d like advice on either absence or supporting colleagues impacted by coronavirus, please email employee.relations@longhurst-group.org.uk or contact one of our dedicated COVID-19 Employee Support team members, Rav Brahach (for non-care) on 0247 684 8148 or Monika Baginska (for Care and Support) on 01205 319 644.

Returning to work after a Coronavirus-related absence

To help colleagues navigate their return to work following a Coronavirus-related absence, a specific form has been created.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) return to work form covers the reason colleagues may have been absent – including illness and self-isolation - and provides guidance around the questions that line managers will need to ask.

Please use this form for all Coronavirus-related absences. Once completed, please email them to People Services.

  Download
Access and download the Return to Work form on Our Workplace.

Vaccinations

If you've had a vaccine but haven't yet informed our People Services Team, please email them to let them know or complete this form.

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  Press enquiries

Should you receive a media enquiry, this must be passed on to Jon Reeves or Matt Dannatt in the Communications Team as soon as possible.

Colleagues should not comment or agree to being interviewed without the Communications Team being informed first.

In the event of a crisis or urgent media enquiry or interview request from a member of the media, at any time during the week, please contact:

Jon Reeves: 07436 538 292
Matt Dannatt: 07795 447 296

If the call isn’t answered straight away, please leave a voicemail with clear information and contact details and the team will respond as soon as possible.

 Further questions

If you have any queries or concerns, then please speak to your line manager or alternatively contact the People Services team on the details below.

  01205 319 623

  PeopleServicesTeam@longhurst-group.org.uk

  Further updates

Communication updates will be issued on a regular basis, via email and on this page – longhurst-group.org.uk/coronavirus.

 Workplace Facebook

Workplace Facebook is a fundamental tool for colleagues to use to stay updated, keep in touch and continue to virtually work as one team. 

If you have not already activated an account on Workplace Facebook, please take this opportunity to do so as soon as possible. A dedicated group will be set up for all Coronavirus-related communications in the coming days.

If you need any support with using Workplace Facebook, please contact the Communications team.



    
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