Coronavirus – latest information for Longhurst Group Colleagues

 This page was updated: 05/08/2021

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

Although government restrictions will be further relaxed next week, we’ll be maintaining a cautious and sensible approach as part of our ongoing efforts to keep customers and colleagues safe.

With new cases again on the increase and high numbers of people having to isolate, it’s clear that we need to remain careful and considerate to ensure we can continue to provide the services our customers rely on.

This information includes simple measures you can take to protect yourself and others.


Reporting sickness and self-isolation

With the NHS Test and Trace app sending over 500,000 alerts to people across the country in the week leading up to 19 July – a 46 percent increase – there’s an increased likelihood that you may receive an alert advising you to self-isolate. 

If you test positive for Coronavirus or are identified as having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, it's imperative that you inform your line manager and the Wellbeing Team straight away by calling 0333 344 8228 (option 1) or email absence@longhurst-group.org.uk.

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

In August, it’s likely that people without symptoms who’ve had both doses of the vaccination will no longer need to self-isolate if notified by the NHS Test and Trace app.

With this in mind, we’re slightly changing our position around what you’ll need to do if you’re required to self-isolate. 

If you’re required to isolate and are unable to work from home, you’ll be able take five days’ special leave when this happens for the first time, as long as you’re able to provide evidence of your need to self-isolate, such as a message from the Test and Trace app. 

However, if you’re required to isolate again, and are again unable to work from home, you’ll have to take the time off as annual leave, unpaid leave, flexible time off or a combination of all three. 

Further advice

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Travel

The picture around foreign travel remains uncertain and unpredictable.  

We’d 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.

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

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. More information about this can be found here.

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

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Vaccinations

The Group supports the government approach that best way for us to keep ourselves and each other safe is for everybody to take up their opportunity to have the COVID-19 vaccination.

We’re delighted to report that 928 colleagues have now had a COVID-19 vaccination. This includes 149 colleagues who've had their first vaccination and 779 who've already received their second dose.

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 Microsoft Form

Colleagues who may have any questions or concerns about the vaccinations can speak to a qualified medical professional as part of our Employee Assistance (EASE) programme, provided by Westfield Health.

The free and confidential service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each telephone session can last up to an hour.

You can access these services by calling the 24-hour freephone helpline 0800 092 0987 (call charges may apply from some networks) or 01455 255 123 (call charges will apply for this number).

You’ll need to quote the Group’s scheme number. This number is: 72114.

The NHS has produced the following videos, to answer questions and provide more information on the COVID-19 vaccination: 

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Lateral flow tests

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

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. 

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 the usual health and safety guidance in relation to coronavirus, such as maintaining social distance and wearing face coverings as appropriate. 

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. You should also take a PCR test if you’re displaying symptoms of Coronavirus.

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

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Our offices – UPDATED 04/08/2021

In line with our approach throughout the pandemic and in keeping with our Working Smarter Together vision, we’ll continue to minimise the use of our offices.

Colleagues are asked to work from home unless they absolutely need to attend an office to carry out essential tasks that cannot be completed from home or to attend training or meetings.

Any colleague attending an office should inform their line manager and use the online desk booking system. The online desk booking app is currently available for desk bookings at the Birmingham, Boston and Rushden offices.

Colleagues that need to attend an office not covered by the booking system should first speak to their line manager and contact the relevant site manager to arrange an appropriate day and time to visit.

If you’re attending an office, please ensure you follow all health and safety guidance around taking a lateral flow test and returning a negative result before attending, observing social distancing and using one-way systems.

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 the Wellbeing Team straight away by calling 0333 344 8228 (option 1) or emailing absence@longhurst-group.org.uk.

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 the People Services Wellbeing Team aware of this when you contact them.

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Meeting other colleagues – UPDATED 04/08/2021

With the rule of six restrictions having now ended and people having further opportunity to meet in larger groups, it’s likely that teams will be arranging more face-to-face meetings during the summer.

When arranging any meetings with customers, other colleagues or external partners, please remain mindful of the prevalence of the virus and the steps you can take to protect yourself and others.

Just like when you plan to visit an office, we’d strongly advise you to take a lateral flow test on the day you’re meeting other colleagues, customers or external partners, and ensure you’ve returned a negative test before going ahead with the meeting.

When meeting, colleagues are encouraged to continue following the ‘hands, face and space’ guidance where appropriate, washing or sanitising your hands, wearing face coverings in enclosed or indoor areas and socially distancing as much as possible.

Colleagues are also asked to carry out a risk assessment before meeting in groups, thinking of any issues that may arise if a large number of a particular team are required to self-isolate after being in close contact with each other, and whether this would have an impact on service delivery.

What to do if testing positive after visiting an office or meeting with others

If colleagues test positive for Coronavirus or are identified as having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, it's imperative that they inform their line manager and the Wellbeing Team straight away by calling 0333 344 8228 (option 1) or email absence@longhurst-group.org.uk.

If colleagues have visited one of our offices or schemes in the seven days prior to testing positive for Coronavirus or being contacted by Test and Trace, they must make the Wellbeing Team aware, on the contact details above. The same applies if colleagues have tested positive after coming into contact with other colleagues or customers outside of an office.


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

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

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

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
If colleagues test positive for Coronavirus or are identified as having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, it's imperative that they inform their line manager and the Wellbeing Team straight away by calling 0333 344 8228 (option 1) or email absence@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.

  0333 344 8228

  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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