Guidance and information on Covid-19

Guidance and information for Retirement Community Operators on the roadmap out of lockdown

Following the announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the roadmap for exiting lockdown in England, we have summarised the key stages of the roadmap, and what this means for housing-with-care settings. Below you’ll also find the latest information on vaccinations for both staff and residents in housing-with-care.

 

The roadmap out of lockdown

There are four key stages to the roadmap out of lockdown announced by the Prime Minister. These are:

Step 1

  • From 8th March, schools will reopen, and people can socialise with one other person from another household outdoors. Care home residents can nominate one person to regularly visit.
  • From 29th March, people can meet in groups of six outdoors, and outdoor leisure and sport facilities can open.

Step 2

  • From 12th April at the earliest, more spaces and facilities will reopen, including indoor leisure for individual use or within household groups, personal care premises such as hairdressers, outdoor hospitality, and libraries and community centres.

Step 3

  • From 17th May at the earliest, reopening will be indoor entertainment and attractions, indoor adult sport, and some larger events.
  • There will be a 30 person limit for meetings outdoors, and six person limit indoors.

Step 4

  • From 21st June at the earliest, there will be no legal limits on social contact, while larger events will be allowed.

 

What does this mean for housing-with-care?  

Broadly, members should ensure the re-opening of particular facilities and services remains in line with the stages of the roadmap set out by the Government. For example, onsite hairdressers can open after 12th April, as can gyms and indoor leisure facilities used by individual residents or members of their household.

As has been the case during lockdown, there are some areas of greater flexibility for housing-with-care settings, such as the ability to offer an eat-in service in a restaurant where this is necessary to safeguard the physical or mental health of a resident, or to open gyms and leisure facilities for those with a disability. These flexibilities will continue as we move through the different stages of the roadmap.

ARCO are working with members to discuss ways that the new roadmap could be tailored in some areas for housing-with-care settings. For instance, we are exploring the possibility of onsite restaurants opening for all residents at a certain time of day, done safely and to give the option of a meal outside their home. We will update this page when more details are available on this. 

 

Shielding for the most vulnerable

The roadmap does not change current shielding guidance for those identified as being Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. Those people who received a letter notifying them that they should shield should continue to do so until 31st March, after which the Government “anticipates that it will no longer be necessary to advise shielding”. More concrete guidance will be sent to people who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable prior to 31st March to advise on the next steps.

 

Visits to care settings

From 8th March, every care home resident will be able to nominate one person who can come in for regular visits. When the data shows it is safe, the Government wants to allow more visitors, and will take a decision ahead of Step 2 from 12th April about whether the number of visitors can be increased to two per resident. In addition to these new measures, care homes should continue to allow visits for other loved ones through arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, visits behind windows or outdoor visiting.

Members may wish to follow a similar plan to those for housing-with-care settings – combining limited face-to-face visiting from 8th March with the continuation of visits using substantial protective equipment.

The Government is due to publish more detailed guidance for care home visits at the beginning of March, which we will update you on.

 

Vaccinations

It is great to hear that a large percentage of our members’ residents and staff have received their first Covid-19 vaccine dose. Everybody aged 70 and above, and all frontline social care workers (together covering the majority of people living and working in housing-with-care settings) were included in the top four groups of the JCVI’s priority list for receiving the vaccine, and should have received their first dose by 15th February.

Everyone will be offered their second dose no more than 12 weeks after their first dose. This means that those in the first four groups who received their first dose by mid-February will get their second dose by mid-May. The NHS has now also begun offering the vaccine to those in groups five and six, which includes adults aged 65 and over, and people with underlying health conditions.

A number of resources may help members during the vaccination programme, including: 

  • A toolkit listing all of the resources available to help employers address any concerns that staff may have about having the vaccine. 
  • All eligible staff who haven’t yet received their first dose can now book their appointment via the national booking service. Employers can also contact their Local Authority urgently if their staff haven’t been called for vaccination.
  • A new nationwide campaign has been launched by DHSC to support the vaccine roll-out. Social media platforms and celebrities have teamed up with the Government and NHS to launch new graphics – and anybody can get involved. The announcement can be read here, and social media tools found here.  

 

Find out more from ARCO

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK, ARCO has shared and provided advice on Covid-19 guidance through a variety of mediums, including daily update emails, regular online discussion and bulletins.

  • If you would like to receive the twice weekly Covid-19 update email that ARCO sends out, including all the latest information and guidance relevant for the housing-with-care sector, then please email Sam Dalton, Policy and External Affairs Manager, via samdalton@arcouk.org.
  • If you work for an ARCO member and would like to join our fortnightly calls to discuss the latest Covid-19 guidance and have your questions answered, then please email Sally Ireland, Barrister and Head of Regulation and Compliance, via sallyireland@arcouk.org.