Coronavirus: advice for customers

Following the latest Government announcement of the new measures that have been introduced around self-isolation, stopping non-essential travel and working from home where possible, Longhurst Group is making some changes to the way we deliver services to our customers.

Coronavirus: advice for customers

  This page was updated: 09/06/2021

We hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well.

As we continue to respond to the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, we wanted to update you about how we’ll maintain the services we deliver while observing social distancing guidelines, and also let you know about some of the extra support we provide.

More information about what this means for you is detailed on this page.


Our offices

With the vast majority of our colleagues continuing to work from home, all of our offices remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future. Please continue to contact us on the phone or via our website

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Visiting customers in our Care and Support settings – updated 20/05/2021

Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve worked hard to ensure the health and wellbeing of both our residents and our colleagues are kept at the heart of everything we do.

Therefore, we’ve closely followed Government and sector guidance on infection prevention and control to provide safe living and working environments throughout our services including Sheltered Accommodation, Supported and Extra Care Living.

This has meant that we’ve had to introduce restrictions on the use of communal areas and non-essential visitors, which we recognise has been difficult.

We welcome and support the most recent guidance from Government which acknowledges that maintaining opportunities to visit loved ones in our care is crucial to the health and wellbeing of the residents themselves and that of their friends and family.

To support this, we’ve introduced our own protocol for the consistent and fair administration of visiting access that’s in line with Government requirements.

Please visit our dedicated Visiting customers in our Care and Support settings page to find out more

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Services provided by our contractors – updated 09/06/2021

The latest government guidance makes it clear that tradespeople, including our contractors, can continue to enter people’s homes.

We remain committed to completing any ongoing or planned work where it’s needed, to keep customers safe and secure.

Please be assured that all of our contractors are following the government’s health and safety guidance and have the necessary risk assessments in place.

If accessing your property, our contractors should be taking the appropriate action to keep you safe and reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Before agreeing to schedule an appointment, our contractors will check whether you or anybody living in your home has coronavirus or is displaying any of its associated symptoms.

Our contractors and PPE

When contractors access your property, they’ll be wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

If our contractors are not wearing this clothing, do not allow them access to your property and please call us straight away to make us aware.


Your repairs service from Mears Limited

Updated: 09/06/2021

As part of our ongoing commitment to provide the best possible experiences for our customers, we’re working hard to improve the repairs service you receive.

We accept that this service is currently below the high standards we want to achieve.

Since we began our repairs contract with Mears Limited at the beginning of April, we’ve been working hard to introduce this new service while dealing with a significant number of jobs.

Many things have contributed to the ongoing delay of repairs, including Mears having to recruit to fill a high number of job vacancies and a backlog of work following a reduction in the number of available appointments during the Coronavirus pandemic

As a result, we’re now offering appointments for non-emergency repairs within the following timeframes:

  • Carpentry: Five weeks
  • Plumbing: Five weeks
  • Electrical: Five weeks
  • Roofing: Nine weeks
  • Groundwork: Nine weeks
  • Glazing: Nine weeks (updated 09/06/2021)
  • Plastering: 10 weeks (updated 09/06/2021)

As Mears take on new operatives, these delays will be reduced.

We’ll review these timeframes on a weekly basis and ensure we keep you informed of any further changes.

We’d like to thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we work hard to provide you with the best possible repairs service.

Reporting repairs

To report an emergency or non-emergency repair, please call 0300 123 1745 and press 1.

We class an emergency as an immediate risk to your safety, security or health. 

To help you to get through as quickly as possible, we’d recommend calling outside of the busiest times, which are 8.30am to 5pm on Monday, and 8.30am to 11am and during lunchtime (12pm to 1pm) on weekdays.

If you've an existing appointment and the issue is resolved before we attend, or the agreed date is no longer convenient, please contact us as soon as possible so we can reschedule our contractors to help other customers.

Out of hours support

Please note, if you're reporting a repair outside of our office hours (9am–5pm), the option sequence will be different. Please listen to the full message before selecting the appropriate option.


Annual heating services

Annual heating services will also continue and it’s really important that our contractor can complete your annual heating service, particularly as people are spending more time at home.

If your annual service is approaching and you or a member of your household is self-isolating, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can rearrange for the service to take place after your isolation has ended.

Please be assured that our contractors are fully up-to-date with the latest guidance on how to work safely.

Gas safety and emergencies

If you smell gas, or have concerns about the safety of your appliances, you should call the gas emergency service provider immediately on 0800 111 999 and switch off appliances until a contractor – or a registered gas engineer – has attended and confirmed that the appliances are safe to use.

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Communal areas

Where you live, if there are areas where you come into close contact with other residents, including communal areas inside and outside, please follow the government’s social distancing guidelines and remain at least two metres apart. Please also avoid congregating in groups, also in line with the government guidance.

We have already taken the decision to close communal areas at some of our schemes, including laundries and communal lounges, where we feel social distancing cannot be achieved.

Cleaning

Cleaning is still being carried out in key communal areas at our properties. Cleaners are using stronger products as part of an upgraded cleaning service in these areas.  

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Lettings to continue

We’re pleased to let you know that our lettings process will continue, and our Housing colleagues will remain present within our communities to ensure that the areas we’re responsible for are safe and clean.

When colleagues need to visit customers’ homes, we’ll ensure that we continue to follow Government guidance around social distancing and we’d ask that customers also do the same.

If we need to visit you at home, we’ll get in touch in advance to ensure that you and anyone living with you are symptom-free. If you or anyone else develops symptoms after the appointment has been agreed, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can reschedule.

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Coping financially

We understand that the ongoing situation is extremely worrying. As well as concerns about your health and safety and the wellbeing of your family and friends, it’s understandable that you might also be wondering how you will cope financially.

Many of you will be experiencing increased uncertainty around your income and what the future might hold.

As a responsible landlord, we want to provide you with as much reassurance and support as we possibly can, but it’s really important that you continue to pay your rent.

If you are having any difficulties with paying your rent, related to coronavirus or otherwise, then we are here to help.

Our dedicated team of income and money advice experts are on hand to listen to your concerns and provide clear and compassionate guidance.

Test and Trace support payment scheme

They will assess all of your options and ensure that you’re accessing any support you are entitled to, including extra support you may be able to access during the coronavirus pandemic, such as the recently introduced Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.

Under this new scheme, if you’re asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and you’re on a low income, unable to work from home and will lose income as a result, you may be entitled to a payment of £500 from your local authority. You can find out more by visiting: gov.uk/coronavirus/worker-support

Free money advice and support is available

Please do not suffer in silence. There are options available to you, and we are here to help.

If you are worrying about your finances, pick up the phone and speak to us today – call 0300 123 1745 and press 2 to speak to the Income Team.

Hardship Fund

If you’re really struggling financially, you may be able to access support from our Improving Lives Hardship Fund.

To access funding, you will need meet certain eligibility criteria.

To find out more about the Hardship Fund, please speak to your Housing Officer, Income Officer or Scheme or Project Manager or visit our Wellbeing Hub.

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Looking after your wellbeing

To help our customers improve their health and wellbeing and enhance their economic resilience, we’ve launched our new online Customer Wellbeing hub.

You can find out more about the advice and support on offer, which covers issues such as domestic abuse and mental health, as well as information about financial support and benefit entitlement, by visiting longhurst-group.org.uk/wellbeing

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All of these measures are subject to further and ongoing review and if and when government advice changes.

Remain vigilant!

During these uncertain times, some people will try to prey on people’s concerns and vulnerabilities. We’ve already had reports of people contacting customers about hoax insulation work.

  Please be extra vigilant when answering your door to anybody, taking any calls and reading emails, to ensure they are genuine.

Our contractors should always be wearing identification. If they do not have identification or are not wearing PPE, do not let them into your property.

Find out more about staying safe from scams on- and offline on our dedicated Scam Awareness page.

Any concerns you may have

Although the way in which we deliver services is changing, we are still here to support you and would encourage you to get in touch on the phone and online to access all of our services. 

We know that many customers will be concerned about job security and potential changes to their income and we would advise you to contact us to talk through these concerns.

Here to help

As well as our Money Advice Service, we are currently looking at what more can do to help people who may be struggling financially over the coming weeks and months.

If you are looking to find work, want to brush up on your skills or learn new ones, we can help you – we also offer employment and skills support.

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  Spotting the signs of Coronavirus

For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus please visit the NHS webpage

We would urge customers to continue to follow the Government’s advice to avoid catching and spreading germs.

 Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.

 Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.

 Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

 Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

The symptoms of Coronavirus are similar to a flu:

 Cough

 High temperature

 Shortness of breath

If you have these symptoms, or you have recently returned from travelling to an affected area, you should call the NHS helpline on 111.

Please do not visit your GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

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