Guidance and information for Covid-19

Guidance and information for Retirement Community Operators in response to the Covid-19 pandemic: updated 01/06/2020 9.45am

 

This page is intended to share government and other official guidance to ARCO members and others in the sector, and to provide analysis and updates which we believe will be useful to members and others responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. It does not constitute medical or legal advice. Members and others should continue to consult gov.uk and other official sources and to seek legal and/or medical/public health advice as appropriate. Reprinting or linking to external material does not constitute endorsement by ARCO. 

 

Updated coronavirus regulations 9.45am 01/06/2020 

The Government has published a number of updates to its coronavirus regulations, coming into force today, Monday 1st June. The key changes relevant to the Retirement Community sector include: 

  • What was previously Regulation 6 (detailed below in our update from 13/05/2020) has been replaced by a regulation about restrictions on staying overnight away from the place where you are living. As previously, a reasonable excuse is required for staying elsewhere overnight, which includes for work purposes or to provide care or assitance to a vulnerable person. 
  • What was previously Regulation 7 has also been updated, with gatherings of more than six people outdoors in a public or private place now prohibited - unless the people are of the same houshold or for one of the particular reasons outlined in the new Regulation 7, which similarly to Regulation 6 includes where gatherings are reasonably necessary for work purposes or to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person. 
  • Social clubs have now been added to Sched 2 Part 2, on the businesses and services required to close. 

The regulations have also been updated to state that they need to be reviewed within 28 days, not 21 as was previously the case. 

ARCO comment: Members should continue to follow the Government's regulations closely and ensure that their practices - both indoors and outdoors - meet the new updates. For the Retirement Community and housing-with-care sector, the new Regulation 7 will be particularly important, and the definitions of "gathering" and "indoors" incuded in this: 

(3) For the purposes of this regulation— (a) there is a gathering when two or more people are present together in the same place in order to engage in any form of social interaction with each other, or to undertake any other activity with each other; (b) a place is indoors if it would be considered to be enclosed or substantially enclosed for the purposes of section 2 of the Health Act 2006(a), under the Smoke Free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006(b).”

If members would like any further assistance interpreting the new regulation updates, then do let us know. Further updates on shielding are expected to be published today, and we will keep you notified of those. Comment published 1 June 9.45am

 

 

Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund 9.40am 27/05/2020 

The Department for Health and Social Care have published further details about the ring-fenced £600 million Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund, which will be paid to local authorities to “support adult social care providers, including those with whom the local authority does not have a contract, to reduce the rate of COVID-19 transmission in and between care homes and support wider workforce resilience”.

The funding will be paid as a Section 31 grant over two instalments in May and July 2020. Local authorities are being told to pass 75% of the funding to care homes within the authority’s area on a ‘per beds’ basis, with the remaining 25% for care homes or domiciliary care providers and to support wider workforce resilience.

Payment of the second instalment will be subject to local authorities returning a Care Home Support plan by 29 May, and the first instalment being used for infection control measures and being used in its entirety. DHSC expects authorities to have spent the funds within two months of the second instalment having been received. 

ARCO comment: If you need further information on the infection control fund, the conditions upon which the grant will be paid, or the local authorities to whom it will be paid, then do let us know. Our Head of Policy and Communications, Gareth Lyon, is leading our work on funding updates, so get in touch via garethlyon@arcouk.org if you have queries or to let us know your experiences in seeking to access this funding. Comment published 27 May 9.40am. 

 

Update on new coronanvirus regulations and moving home guidance 4.50pm 13/05/2020 

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 have been amended. Key changes for the Retirement Community sector to note include: 

  • Regulation 6 (Restrictions on movement) has been amended to allow, as a reasonable excuse to leave the place where a person is living, the need to take exercise alone, with one or more members of their household, or with one member of another household; and the need to visit a public open space for the purposes of open-air recreation to promote their physical or mental health or emotional wellbeing alone, with one or more members of their household, or with one member of another household. The Regulation has also been amended to include the need to undertake any of the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property:  

               (i) visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;

              (ii) viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent;

             (iii) preparing a residential property to move in;

             (iv) moving home; 

               v) visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or

                   sale of that property

  • “Public open space” is defined in the regulation as including (a)land laid out as a public garden or used for the purpose of recreation by members of the public; (b) land which is “open country” as defined in section 59(2) of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, as read with section 16 of the Countryside Act 1968; (c) land which is “access land” for the purposes of Part 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (see section 1(1) of that Act). 

ARCO comment: Members should note that, if the grounds of a Retirement Community are not included within the definition of “public open space” above, it will be an offence for a family member or friend of a Retirement Community resident to visit the grounds in order to meet with the resident there. Private grounds not used as a public garden or for recreation by members of the public may not meet this definition. Members should take legal advice before allowing access in these circumstances. 

The new provisions on home sales and moves are supplemented by updates to the Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. The guidance includes specific advice for vulnerable and shielding groups and guidance for estate agents, developers and new build sales, landlords and other professionals.  The guidance emphasises that the reopening of the housing market does not represent a return to normality and adaptations will be needed, for example more use of virtual viewings, social distancing and infection control procedures. 

ARCO’s forthcoming guidance on online and distancing sales and lettings will reflect the new updates to regulation and guidance. Comment published 13 May 4.50pm 

 

Government publishes Covid-19 recovery strategy 5.25pm 11/05/2020

The Government has published its full recovery strategy for Covid-19, titled ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’. The document sets out an estimated roadmap for the next stages of responding to Covid-19, with the aim of easing existing measures in a safe and measured way, subject to successfully controlling the virus and being able to monitor and react to its spread. 

The plan is divided into three main steps: 

  • Step One: This applies from Wednesday, 13th May. Everyone who can work from home should continue doing so, while those who cannot are encouraged to travel to work if their workplace is open. Restrictions around the use of public space will be slightly relaxed, for example to allow more outdoor exercise, while there is also additional guidance on the use of public transport and the wearing of face coverings.  
  • Step Two: This is currently due to start no earlier than Monday, June 1st. It includes a phased return for early years settings and schools, the opening of non-essential retail, and the re-opening of more local public transport in urban areas – subject to strict measures. Within this step, the Government is also exploring the possibility of regulations allowing households to include one other household in the same exclusive group, but nothing is confirmed on this yet.  
  • Step Three: This is due to start no earlier than Saturday, 4th July. The aim is to allow at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close to re-open at least in part, including personal care (e.g. hairdressers and salons), hospitality (e.g. food service providers) and public spaces (e.g. places of worship).

The Government maintains its guidance for those who are more clinically vulnerable, including those aged over 70, to avoid all non-essential face-to-face contact. The new plan says this guidance is being reviewed so that the Government can offer more precise information about who is at greatest risk, and what steps those who are more vulnerable should take.  

Within the plan there is also a section on protecting care homes, which lays out the steps the Government is taking on testing, PPE provision, the workforce, guidance and more.  

ARCO comment: It is important to note that this recovery plan is a cautious roadmap for easing measures in response to Covid-19, and that the different steps within it are subject to the virus being successfully controlled. It is also important to emphasise that for those people identified as being particularly vulnerable, including those aged over 70, there is currently no change to the existing guidance to avoid all non-essential contact. 

Members should pay immediate attention to the measures within Step One, should they wish to take advantage of the Government’s easing of restrictions for the use of outdoor public spaces for some of their residents. Members should ensure that the actions they are taking regarding these spaces are in line with the stated intentions of the Government plan, and may want to consider peak demand and flow management to reduce overcrowding. The planned easing of measures included in the latter two steps will also be relevant for operators, for instance the potential for more personal care and hospitality facilities to re-open from early July. Members are advised to plan ahead accordingly so that if they wish to re-open such facilities when it is confirmed by the Government that they may do so, that they do this safely and in alignment with the Government guidance.

We will be closely monitoring for further information and detail from the Government on the progression of this recovery plan, and how it affects Retirement Community operators. And we will continue to work with the Department for Health and Social Care to gauge the extent to which the information directed at care homes is applicable to Retirement Communities.  One highly important publication to note will be the Covid-19 Secure guidelines for workplaces and possibly other public spaces that is due to be released this week. This will be a key floor standard for health and safety in the workplace and infection control for residents that operators should seek to comply with. Comment published 11 May 5.25pm 

 

VAT removed from PPE purchases by The Treasury 5.20pm 30/04/2020

The Treasury has announced that, from tomorrow (1 May 2020), PPE purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against Covid-19 will be free from VAT for a three-month period, up to 31 July 2020. The VAT has been cut under an exceptional basis allowed by EU rules during health emergencies, with the European Commission indicating recently that it supported the idea of member states introducing temporary VAT reliefs to mitage the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 

Uber Medic offer to care providers 11.00am 29/04/2020

Uber, together with the Care Provider Alliance (CPA), have announced the launch of Uber Medic, a new product to provide all care providers access to a 25% discount on their staff’s trips for 12 weeks. Care organisations to benefit from:  

  • 25% off every ride until 29th July 2020 - only the driver receives payment for these trips.  
  • Access to an online booking portal, so Uber Medic can be booked for others 
  • Drivers are able to pick up from/to hospitals, however, currently can’t go to testing centres.

To get the discount, individual care settings will need to email Uber quoting ‘Care Provider Alliance’ via uki-careproviders-support@uber.com to set up a managed account and gain access to the discount. 

ARCO comment: We have confirmed with the CPA that this new discount applies to Retirement Communties and extra care housing schemes. The discount may be something that members wish to utilise, should staff wish to avoid the use of public transport during this period. If members do decide to take advantage of the discount, we adivse them to read the page on the Uber website providing more information about the steps drivers will take, and which passengers should take, to ensure each journey is as safe as possible. Comment published 29 April 11.00am 

 

How to work safely in domiciliary care 6.15pm 28/04/2020

The Government has issued new guidance on working safely in domiciliary care. This is aimed at care workers delivering care in extra care housing, homecare settings, and live-in homecare. The guidance is focused on the safe use of personal protective equipment (PPE), drawing on recommendations from the main PPE guidance and applying them to domiciliary care settings. Included in the guidance are tables detailing how particular items of PPE should be used safely, for example disposable gloves, plastic aprons, surgical masks and eye protection, tailored to situations where care workers do need to be in direct contact with those they are caring for, and those where they don’t. There is also a series of answers to frequently asked questions on PPE, and a number of case studies to illustrate how PPE should be used safely. 

ARCO comment: This guidance should be read in conjunction with the guidance published last week on how to work safely in care homes. While the new guidance for domiciliary care makes clear that it is appropriate for extra care housing settings, members may find that the guidance for care homes is also useful for their operating model. We advise members to take particular note in this guidance of the different recommendations for PPE use in situations when direct contact is and is not required. Comment published 28 April 6.15pm 

 

How to work safely in care homes 9.30am 22/04/2020

The Government has issued new guidance on working safely within care homes. This includes a video on the safe ‘donning and doffing’ of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as clarification in the main guidance document on sustained community transition. The Government recommends "use of PPE in general, however, in circumstances where no resident has symptoms of fever or cough and where no staff member or visitor has experienced these symptoms in the preceding 14 days, then PPE may not be required".

 Alongside this new guidance is a document, Considerations for acute personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, approved by the Health and Safety Executive. This appears to relate to acute and severe shortages rather than being intended as the basis for all PPE usage.

ARCO comment: While this guidance relates to care homes, we expect the supported living and home care guidance (still awaited) to be similar. As with all COVID-19 guidance a path between home care and care homes has been the most appropriate fit. This document contains a risk assessment flow chart and recommends a daily risk assessment approach to decide on PPE use. Comment published 22 April 9.30am. 

 

Adult social care action plan 6.45pm 17/04/2020

The Government has published its Covid-19 adult social care action plan, setting out its work to control the spread of infection in care settings, support the care sector workforce, support independence and respond to individual needs, and support local authorities and care providers. While the action plan is largely a collection of existing guidance, there are some key points to note: 

  • Following the Government’s publication of its plan on personal protective equipment (PPE), further case studies are expected to be released shortly by Public Health England, providing more detail on what the “sessional use” of PPE means in different settings.
  • From now on, all symptomatic residents in care homes will be tested for Covid-19, as well as all patients discharged from hospital to go into a care home. Care workers will also be able to get tested, and the CQC is in the process of writing to all care providers about this.
  • There will shortly be a new website and free support hotline for those working in adult social care to access support.
  • Further guidance on volunteers providing support in adult social care settings will be published shortly.
  • The Government will be launching a new recruitment campaign soon, with the aim to attract 20,000 more social care workers over the next three months.

ARCO comment: Though this action plan does not contain much new guidance, it brings existing guidance for the adult social care sector into a unified format for providers. The plan is aimed at all care settings, though some points are directed towards care homes specifically. In addition to continuing to call for the specific inclusion of the Retirement Community sector within guidance, we will continue to monitor for updates to this plan, including new information provided on PPE and testing, the greater support tools available to care workers, and the new guidance due on volunteers within adult social care. Comment published 17 April 6.45pm 

 

Temporary funding for adult social care providers 12.30pm 09/04/2020

The Local Government Association (LGA) has set out a framework for local authorities with regard to temporary funding for adult social care providers during the Covid-19 emergency. This has been established in light of the growing funding pressures faced by providers during this period. The framework includes the provision of additional temporary funding where necessary, and helping providers with cash flow, for example by paying for care delivery in advance rather than in arrears. The LGA’s statement also includes information on funding services for providers to support discharges from hospital. 

ARCO comment: The LGA’s framework at present applies only to those providers who have contracts with their local authority. Providers should note that the LGA’s statement constitutes guidance only, and that there is likely to be significant local variation in the framework being applied. Further announcements are expected to be made on funding in due course, so we will monitor this. 

The LGA also make clear in the statement that they wish to foster open dialogue between providers and commissioners, so we would encourage members who have local authority contracts to share any funding-related concerns or challenges with their local authority, to inform this conversation. We would encourage any private providers with funding concerns to share them with ARCO so that we can raise these with the LGA.  Comment published 9 April 12.30pm 

 

CQC interim guidance on DBS and recruitment checks 2.20pm 03/04/2020

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published interim guidance on DBS and other recruitment checks, for providers recruiting staff and volunteers to health and social care services in response to Covid-19. The guidance has been published following the temporary changes made by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to DBS applications and processes, and will be in operation for the period the Coronavirus Act 2020 remains in force. 

The guidance applies to staff and volunteers being recruited as a consequence of and during the coronavirus pandemic, and where the following three things apply:

  1. Providers need to start staff urgently
  2. Waiting for a full DBS check could cause undue delay
  3. This delay could lead to risks to the continuity of service, impacting the safety and wellbeing of people using the service

If these three things apply, providers are offered a fast, free Barred List DBS check for emergency roles being recruited. The guidance emphasises the diligence that providers should continue to exercise around recruitment, and that new staff are sufficiently supervised and supported to ensure safety. 

ARCO comment: Retirement Community operators should now follow this new guidance from the CQC, but only where the three key criteria stated above apply to their recruitment. In all recruitment not linked to coronavirus and not meeting the three key criteria, operators are asked to follow existing DBS and CQC guidance. ARCO requests that members keep us up to date with any issues or challenges they experience with recruitment so that we can escalate these to the Department of Health and Social Care. Comment published 3 April 2.20pm 

 

Use of personal protective equipment (PPE) 12.50pm 03/04/2020 

 The Government has updated its guidance on infection control and prevention, including new guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by health and social care workers. The main changes to the existing guidance on PPE are: 

  • Enhanced PPE recommendations for a wide range of health and social care contexts
  • Inclusion of individual and organisational risk assessment at local level to inform PPE use
  • Recommendation that some PPE items are used for single sessions
  • Recommendation that re-usable PPE can be used - advice should be obtained on suitable decontamination arrangements from the manufacturer, supplier or local infection control
  • Guidance for when case status is unknown and SARS-CoV-2 is circulating at high levels
  • Recommendations on the patient use of facemasks

The Government’s guidance contains further detail on all of these points, and more information on best practice, different types of PPE, risk assessment and patient use of PPE, among other things. Also included is a visual guide for safe use of PPE, and tables on the main guidance page summarising how different PPE items should be used. 

ARCO comment: All members should read this guidance – it also includes useful tables and diagrams (for example for PPE to be worn in different circumstances, best practice for hand washing) that can be put on display in staff areas/distributed to staff. We recognise that supplies of PPE continue to be problematic for the sector and we continue to raise this both individually and through the Care Provider Alliance.  The guidance also includes information on Occupational Health and Staff Deployment which is important reading for the protection of staff and residents. 

We also advise members to read the updated guidance for working safely in a care home, which includes a video and further guidance on the safe use of PPE. Further details on this guidance are located in the post above dated 22.04.20. Comment updated 22 April 10:00am. 

 

Admission and care of residents in a care home  12.50pm 03/04/2020 

The Government released new guidance yesterday for care homes, local health protection teams, local authorities, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and registered providers of accommodation for people who need personal or nursing care. The guidance sets out how to admit and care for residents safely, and how to protect staff. Seven key points are focused on in the document: 

  • Admission of residents
  • Caring for residents, depending on their Covid-19 status
  • Reporting of Covid-19 cases
  • Providing care after death
  • Advice for staff
  • Supporting existing residents that may require hospital care
  • National support available to implement this guidance

ARCO comment: This guidance has useful information on isolation and infection control that will be instructive to members – while recognising that the circumstances of a Retirement Community are different to those of a care home in important respects. This guidance is currently being reviewed following the publication of the Government's adult social care action plan (see post above on 17.04.) ARCO will monitor changes that are made relevant for the Retirement Community sector. Comment updated 21 April 10:10am   

 

Guidance for Coronavirus Act 2020 4.00pm 02/04/2020 

The Coronavirus Act 2020 is now law. Key provisions for the sector include the following:

Section 15 and Schedule 12 to the Act (the “Care Act easements” provisions) were brought into force by Regulations on 31 March. Any members with local authority funded residents should be aware of these changes. The provisions release Local Authorities from the obligation to carry out Care Act-compliant care and support needs assessments or reviews, or carers’ assessments or reviews, and from the duty to meet eligible needs – replacing this with a power to meet needs subject to the requirement not to breach the person’s Convention rights as guaranteed in the Human Rights Act 1998. The NHS is also released from the duty to carry out NHS Continuing Healthcare assessments. The provisions are intended to allow Local Authorities to prioritise the delivery of the most urgent and most needed care and support to individuals during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The guidance accompanying the easements makes clear that Local Authorities should continue to comply with their pre-Care Act duties so far as is reasonably practicable but also that there may be new needs arising as the result of the Covid-19 outbreak – for example if a person’s family carer is unwell or other services are closed. The duty to carry out financial assessments is also subject to easement – Local Authorities will not be able to charge service users for services until the financial assessment has been completed, when they can then recoup charges for the period when no financial assessment had been carried out.

Other relevant provisions include a power to make regulations to allow the recovery of statutory sick pay for Covid-19 by employers and the temporary suspension of the usual three “waiting days” before SSP is paid; and powers to make orders to alter the rate of National Insurance contributions for employees, employers and the self-employed.  Further provisions of note include those simplifying and giving more flexibility in procedure for the registration of deaths, and allowing cremations to take place more quickly. The Act also builds on the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 in granting powers to police and public health officers to enforce the screening and isolation of potentially infectious people.  Powers relating to the closure and restriction of premises, events and gatherings are also streamlined. 

Members with queries regarding the application of the Act and guidance should email Sally Ireland at sallyireland@arcouk.org.  Comment published 2 April 4.00pm 

 

House moves 10.20pm 31/03/2020 

Whilst Government guidance is clear that if possible, house moves should be arranged to take place outside of the lockdown period, there is a recognition that a small number of moves may need to go ahead.

In response to a letter from ARCO seeking clarification, The British Association of Removers have advised that in such circumstances:

  • Removers should honour their existing commitments where it is clear that the move can be done safely for the client and your own staff and it is clear that themoving date cannot be moved.
  • Removers should follow the latest Government guidance which currently states that work carried out in people’s homes can continue, provided the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms or coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • It is important to ensure Government guidelines are followed, including maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

No work should be carried out by a person who has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, however mild.

ARCO comment: Prospective residents and their movers should consider travelling with headed letters from their conveyancing solicitor and the Retirement Community operator confirming that this is the case. This will include cases where moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and no new date can be agreed. We advise that people with symptoms, those who are self-isolating and those who are shielding do not move if possible. Mortgage lenders are working on ways to enable customers who have exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months to allow for a later move date. We would also advise all members to read the specific guidance for estate agents.

This letter does however provide some level of reassurance that the British Association of Removers would not prevent their members carrying out moves in such circumstances and can be shared with removal companies if required. Comment updated 31 March 10.20pm

 

Simplified process for CQC registration and statement of purpose changes 2.50pm 25/03/2020

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has streamlined and simplified its process for those providers needing to make a new CQC registration or to change their registration because of Covid-19. The CQC have also provided information on how providers can update their statement of purpose if necessary. 

ARCO comment: Providers are advised to read the full CQC update on what constitutes a Covid-19 registration, and to take any appropriate steps as soon as possible to complete their registration and update their statement of purpose, if necessary. Comment published 25 March 2.50pm 

 

Staying at home and staying away from others 1.15pm 24/03/2020

Last night the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced new measures requiring people to stay at home and away from others, starting immediately and continuing for a minimum of three weeks. People should only leave the house for these reasons: 

  • Shopping for basic necessities like food and medicine, as infrequently as possible
  • One form of exercise a day
  • Any medical needs
  • Travelling to and from work if absolutely necessary

In addition, public gatherings of more than two people are to be stopped, and all non-essential shops and public spaces closed. Full details of businesses and premises that must close can be found here, but these include: 

  • Non-essential retail
  • Libraries, community centres and youth centres
  • Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities
  • Communal places within parks
  • Places of worship
  • Hotels and hostels

Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance with these regulations, with police support provided if appropriate. Businesses and premises that breach them will be subject to prohibition notices, and potentially unlimited fines.  

ARCO comment: This represents a further tightening of restrictions on communal spaces including cafes and restaurants as well as indoor and outdoor leisure facilities. Operators should consider whether the actions they are taking regarding their communal facilities and services (indoors and outdoors) are in line with the stated intentions of government guidelines around social distancing and reducing social contacts to a minimum. Currently, outdoor communal areas may be considered to have a similar status to public parks and may be able to remain open – however, operators might want to consider peak demand and flow management to reduce overcrowding. Shops on site (both permanent and impromptu) may be permitted to continue to operate as they are providing essential food items to Retirement Community residents but advice should be sought from local authorities on this. Comment published 24 March 1.15pm 

 

Closure of businesses and venues 2.40pm 23/03/2020

On Sunday the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) issued an update on its regulation asking some businesses and venues to close. It said local government would be responsible for enforcing these regulations, with Environmental Health and Trading Standards Officers, with police support if appropriate, working together to issue prohibition notices when the restrictions are not followed.

The full restrictions – which had previously been announced and are detailed here - will not affect supermarkets or retailers that supply fuel, medicines and other vital goods, which will continue to be open as normal for the public. The following businesses and venues have been asked to close: 

  • Food and drink venues for consumption on-site, such as restaurants and cafes.
  • Drinking establishments, including pubs, bars, nightclubs.
  • Entertainment venues, including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, and bingo halls.
  • Museums and galleries.
  • Spas and massage parlours.
  • Casinos and betting shops.
  • All indoor leisure and sports facilities, including gyms.

Not included in these restrictions are cafes or canteens at hospitals, care homes or schools. 

This measure will also not impact the relaxation of planning rules announced earlier this week which will allow pubs and restaurants to operate as hot food takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak, which will help to support people who are staying at home through this period.

ARCO comment: Following the further rules announced by The Prime Minister on 23/03/2020, operators should consider whether the actions they are taking regarding their communal facilities and services (indoors and outdoors) are in line with the stated intentions of government guidelines around social distancing and reducing social contacts to a minimum. Currently, outdoor communal areas may be considered to have a similar status to public parks and may be able to remain open – however, operators might want to consider peak demand and flow management to reduce overcrowding. Shops on site (both permanent and impromptu) may be permitted to continue to operate as they are providing essential food items to Retirement Community residents but advice should be sought from local authorities on this. Comment updated 24 March 1.15pm

 

Financial support available to businesses 10.25am 22/03/2020

In a statement on Friday the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced an additional series of measures to support businesses and the economy during the coronavirus crisis. These include:

  • Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are furloughed and kept on payroll, rather than being laid off. Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month.
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and will be open initially for at least three months - and will be extended if necessary.
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will now be interest free for twelve months.
  • Further measures to be announced this week to support credit
  • Deferring the next quarter of VAT payments and will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.
  • £1bn of support for renters, by increasing housing benefit so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents in their area.

Earlier in the week the Chancellor had previously announced:

  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

ARCO comment: Taken together these and previous measures, as well as the specific support for social care will help to partially mitigate the immediate financial pressure faced by some providers. ARCO will continue to escalate specific concerns arising from our sector directly to HM Treasury. Comment updated 22 March 10.25am

 

Government guidance on ‘supported living’ 9.20pm 19/03/2020

This guidance is aimed at local authorities, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), community health services and providers of care and support delivered within supported living environments (people in their own homes)

ARCO comment: in the absence of sector specific guidance from the Government this appears to be the closest available to us. Comment updated 19 March 7.20pm

 

School closures  6.55pm 19/03/2020

It has been announced that after schools shut their gates from Friday afternoon, they will remain closed for most pupils until further notice. The statement has now been updated and makes it clear that care workers, support workers and specialist workers are categorised as critical workers who will still be able to send their children to school depending on local availability. Specific guidance has been issued for parents and carers. 

ARCO comment: The Government’s updated guidance now makes it clear who is classed as a critical worker, with care workers, support workers and specialist workers included and that  if needed school places will be provided if available. Critical workers are advised to contact their local authority should their child’s school have closed, or if they have questions about the health and safeguarding of pupils. From examples on the ground, it may be helpful for employers to supply their staff with letters clarifying the nature of the organisation’s work in this critical area of focus.  Comment updated: 24 March 1.15pm. 

 

Financial support for social care 6.15pm 19/03/2020

DHSC has announced that £1.6 billion will go to local authorities to help them respond to other coronavirus (COVID-19) pressures across all the services they deliver. This includes increasing support for the adult social care workforce and for services helping the most vulnerable, including homeless people. 

£1.3 billion will be used to enhance the NHS discharge process so patients who no longer need urgent treatment can return home safely and quickly. 

ARCO comment: While CQC-regulated parts of the Retirement Community sector are likely to be covered by this automatically, non-regulated provision of ‘support’ (rather than personal care) may not be picked up by the systems to be put in place. ARCO and others are trying to ensure that housing-related support functions in housing-settings (including Retirement Communities) are also covered by financial assistance being made available) Comment updated 19 March 6.15pm

 

Government guidance on domiciliary care 4.20pm 19/03/2020
This guidance covers steps for home care providers to maintain delivery of care; what to do if a care worker is concerned that they may have Covid-19; PPE, cleaning, and laundry procedures if a person being cared for has symptoms of Covid-19; procedures if neither the staff member nor the person being cared for has symptoms of Covid-19; NHS support for home care provision; Government support; and steps for local authorities to support home care provision. 

ARCO comment: There is currently no specific government guidance for Retirement Communities/housing with care settings for older people. Operators/their care delivery partners may wish to consider this guidance for their CQC registered domiciliary care services. Comment updated  19 March 4.20pm

 

Access to PPE  11.35am 19/03/2020
The Government has announced that every registered care provider (care homes and domiciliary care) will be receiving 300 face masks over the next few days (with a target of Tuesday). If care providers have immediate concerns over their supply of PPE, there is now a dedicated line: The National Supply Disruption line Tel: 0800 915 9964 Email: supplydisruptionservice@nhsbsa.nhs.uk

ARCO comment: Please note that providers receiving masks will be the registered providers of domiciliary care in a Retirement Community, and/or the care homes on the same site. Comment updated 25 March 1.35pm

 

Notifications to CQC 4.30pm 17/03/2020

CQC have clarified, in response to provider concerns, that there are no changes to the requirements to make notifications or the system used to make them. CQC-registered providers should notify CQC of deaths and of events that stop them carrying on their service “safely and properly” (regulation 18). CQC have clarified that this will mean letting them know if a provider’s service operation is being negatively affected by Covid-19. It does not mean that providers need to notify CQC of every single Covid-19 related issue.

ARCO comment: The ARCO team will continue our dialogue with CQC, both escalating member concerns as they arise and keeping CQC informed of the evolving situation. Comment published 17 March 4.30pm