E: vivienne.rogers@oldfriendscare.co.uk 

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) 

This article aims to outline our company's practices regarding the current Covid-19 pandemic and inform you as to what Old Friends Care are doing in order to follow governemnt guidance. As you are aware, the national response to the outbreak has been changing on a daily basis and we are hoping to reassure you that we are continually monitoring the situation so we can safeguard both our staff and service users during this time. 

Covid-19 - what is it? 

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause dieseases in animals. There have been seven coronaviruses (including Covid-19) that have spread to humans, most of these seven viruses just cause cold-like symptoms. There have been two viruses from this family that have caused more severe symptoms, these are MERS and SARS. COVID-19 is a new virus strain within this family, 20% of confirmed Covid-19 cases have been classified as severe or critical. 
Covid-19 has a lower mortality rate than MERS and SARS but it is still a considerable threat, with over 400 deaths from the virus across the UK only. The outbreak has been traced to a market in a province of China, however the virus has now spread on a global scale with more European cases than Chinese cases at this present time. The virus has spread to over 100 countries across the world with a current death toll of approximately 18,000. Chinese officials have published data that indicates that 80% of cases are categorised as mild whilst the other 20% require hospitalisation. The number of cases and deaths has varied from country to country, with Italy seeing the largest number of deaths as a result of the virus. 
The first death in the UK was announced on March 5, with a total of 422 deaths since then. The NHS has published information and guidance regarding the symptoms of COVID-19. 
South Korea 
Source: WHO, CDC, ECDC, NHC, DXY. Last updated: 25/03/2020. Japan total excludes 712 cases from the Diamond Princess 

Symptoms of Covid-19 

The NHS has announced that the two main symptoms of Covid-19 are a high temperature and a new, continous dry cough. If you have any of these symptoms you are advised to stay at home, do not attempt to visit a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital as this puts others at risk. The NHS has developed a 111 online service that aims to guide those that have these symptoms and to determine the liklihood that their symptoms are Covid-19. The NHS are requesting that people use this online service as an alternative to ringing 111 as the 111 telephone service are receving an overwhelming number of calls. 
Some patients may also have a runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion and aches and pains or diarrhoea. About 80% of people who get Covid-19 experience a mild case – about as serious as a regular cold – and recover without needing any special treatment. 
You can visit this NHS website and complete the questionnaire to check your symptoms: NHS 111 Online Symptom Checker Covid-19 
About one in six people become seriously ill. The elderly and people with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, or chronic respiratory conditions, are at a greater risk of serious illness from Covid-19. The UK government has composed a list of over 1 million individuals who are deemed to be high risk and they will be receiving a letter over the coming days from the government advising them to self-isolate at home for 12 weeks. 
We are expecting a large number of our service users to receive a government letter that advises them to self-isolate for 12 weeks, if you receive one of these letters please inform our office so that we can provide you with guidance regarding your care. 
At this present time, there is no treatment or vaccine for this virus. There is a considerable amount of medical research occuring across the world with scientists aiming to develop a treatment for Covid-19. However, at this current time recovery of an individual who has been diagnosed with Covid-19 simply depends on the strength of their immune system.  
As a large majority of our service users could potentially fall into the category of high risk of serious illness from Covid-19 we are hoping to reassure our staff and service users that we are following government guidance in attempting to minimise any potential spread of the virus. 
The NHS has published the following guidance to inform individuals of how we can all minimise the spread of the virus: 

National Response to Covid-19 - recent updates 

On Monday 23rd, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the public regarding Covid-19 and the escalation of preventative mesaures. 
The Prime Minister said the public will not be allowed to leave their homes except for a few specific reasons, and could be fined £30 for meeting outside in groups of more than two people. Although the term 'lockdown' was not used by the Prime Minister on Monday, this term has been used to describe the restrictions as these are the greatest restrictions of Britons liberty in the nation's history. 
All non-essential shops will close, as will outdoor gyms, kiosks and places of worship, except for funerals. 
The unprecedented measures were prompted by fears in Downing Street that its coronavirus suppression measures have been ignored by the public, and modelling that suggests at least three quarters of people must follow them for the NHS to be kept a float. 
Under the new lockdown, members of the public must not leave their house except to : 
Shop for essentials, as infrequently as possible 
Exercise outdoors once per day, alone or with household members 
Receive medical treatment or provide care 
Travel to and from work if impossible to work from home 

What we are doing at Old Friends Care 

As we are an essential care-provider across Redditch we are continuing to operate as normal to the best of our ability. We are continually monitoring the pandemic, governement anouncements, NHS advice and guidance from the Care Quality Commision and Worcestershire County Council to ensure we are adhering to guidelines whilst developing our practices accordingly. 
Firstly, we would like to inform you that if you have any symptoms of Covid-19 you MUST inform our office. You are required to self-isolate and seek NHS advice if you have these symptoms, we have measures in place if this does occur and we would just like to remind you that you must tell us as soon as you have any symptoms. 
Our carers are considered to be key workers by the government and so our care staff will continue to visit you or your family members as always if you require. We are offering the oppurtunity for our Service Users to self-isolate if they wish to and if they or their families feel that they can cope without care from us for the next few weeks. If you feel that you would like to self-isolate or reduce your care in anyway during the pandemic, please contact our office and we will arrange this for you for as little or long as you require. For those of our service users who have already advised us that they will be self-isolating, we have been providing welfare checks via telephone from our office to ensure that you are doing well, remaing safe and do not require any assitance with anything. This welfare call support will be available to every service user if the pandemic worsens or if you chose to self-isolate. If you do not contact us to inform us that you will be self-isolating, we will assume that you require no changes and we will continue to visit you as normal. 
We do however request that you remain patient with us during this unprecedented time as we are unsure of any future developments regarding the virus and we would like to take this opportunity to remind you that there may be occasions when your care provision and times may be disrupted, for example your call may take place at a slightly different time or you may see changes in your usual carers. 
We have sent out letters to every service user that we provide care for that will be arriving this week, this aims to inform you of our measures and response to Covid-19 with guidance surrounding your care during this time. We will continue to update you as frequently as possible over the next few weeks where necessary. 
Since the initial outbreak of the virus in the UK, we have monitored the guidance released and we instantly began introducting infection-control measures. Our care staff are provided with and wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves and aprons as a mandatory requirement all year round for every shift that they work, so during this outbreak we are continuing to adhere to our company's PPE policy as normal. However, we have informed our carers to adhere to the following special measures regarding PPE during this outbreak: 
Carers are washing their hands before and after each care call 
Carers are ensuring that they always wear the correct PPE provided by us (including gloves and aprons) 
Carers are continuing to use Alcohol Hand Gel 
Carers have been asked to wash their uniform at 60 degrees and tumble dry their uniform where available in order to kill any bacteria 
As many of you are aware, there has been widespread shortages in the amount of PPE available across the UK, especially to health care services and providers. We would like to reassure you that we are working alongside Worcestershire County Council and the CQC in order to gain access to PPE supplies, with a delivery of Face Masks arriving to our company from the CQC this week that we have been distributing to our care staff. We would also like to reassure both our staff and service users that we have a large amount of gloves and aprons at our office that care staff are regularly collecting. 
Our office is currently operating with 'Skeleton Staff' as we have put measures in place to enable some of our office staff to work from home securely. We have stopped all external training at our premises at this time and recruitment has also been put on hold during this pandemic to reduce the number of visitors to our office. We are putting these provisions in place to ensure that our office is kept as isolated and safe as possible so it can continue to run as normal. We are also requesting that our Carers only visit our office for the collection of PPE, we ask that you tell us over our Buzzer system which PPE you require so that we can collect it for you and we also ask that our staff do not come upstairs to our office as we are isolating ourselves as much as possible. 
We would like to take this oppurtunity to ask for your patience during this time, we appreciate that there will still be situations in which you need to contact our office and we will endeavour to respond to you as normal. However, we request that you only contact our office if it is urgent or an emergency so that we can ensure we are available to respond to the priority calls. Our Out-of-Hours service is operating as normal every evening from 5pm-10pm during this week and from 7am-10pm on Saturdays and Sundays. 
We have implemented a plan regaridng the discharging of our service users from hopsital to ensure that our community remains safe and free from the spread of Covid-19. We are working alongside the NHS and offer our full support to them at this time, we are therefore accepting disharged service users and caring for them as normal if they are displaying no symptoms of Covid-19 over an allocated time period prior to their discharge. 
To ensure that we are adhering to the recent governement lockdown announcement, we have had to make changes to some of our care services and packages. Our Social Inclusion calls will not involve any outdoor activities from the 14th of March onwards so that our service users are staying home and we are helping to minimise the number of individuals who are out in public. Also, we have changed our shopping services so that only our carer goes shopping and our service users remain at home whilst their shopping is being completed. As we are key workers, we can complete your basic shopping for you during these calls without you present as long as you provide us with a list of the shopping that you require for us. 
As you are aware, the supermarkets are experiencing issues with stock and shortages of particular items. These include medicines, fresh produce, milk, toiletries, biscuits, tinned food, toilet roll and frozen groceries. During shopping calls, our carers will attempt to purchase these items if you require them, if your requested items are unavailable they will buy you alternatives. If there is no fresh produce, we are attempting to buy our service users sufficent food stocks by buying frozen foods and items that have longer dates so that you have enough food at home at all times during these shortages. There is also a limit within shops as to how many items you can buy at one time, for example a large number of supermarkets are only allowing individuals to purchase two toilet rolls, two soaps, two tins etc to ensure that stocks remain available for everyone. We therefore ask that you remain patient with us during your shopping calls and remain aware that our carers will try their best to get every item you require but they may not always be able to do this for you during the pandemic. 
We appreciate that this is a frightening and uncertain time for everyone with all of us being affected in some way by the pandemic. We are aware that the restrictions announced on Monday by the Prime Minister have caused widespread fear as this is something that none of us have experienced before. However, we are hoping that we can work together during this time and protect our Old Friends Care community by safeguarding our staff and service users. We are therefore continuing to monitor the situation and adapt our practices where possible. 
We ask that you follow our Old Friends Care Facebook Page for the most up to date announcements and advice, we are hoping that this article has reassured you for the time being. Any major changes will be detailed and amended on this page as we continue through the next few weeks together, the most regular updates however will occur on Facebook. 
You can still contact the office via the normal details as you usually would. Our updated email addresses are outlined below, please be aware that due to the limited staff working in the office at the moment that emails may not be responded to at our usual rate. Therefore, if you require us immediately or need to ask us anything please ring our office. 
Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our carers who are continuing to work as normal out in our community. We have had a number of carers offer extra help and some who are continuing to send their children to school so that they can continue their essential work. We appreciate that this is not an easy time for us all and care work can be challenging during situations like these, you have all taken this challenge in your stride and we are proud of the efforts you have all made to ensure our service users get the best care possible. Thank you all and we hope that we can all work through this together.l. 
Please do not hestiate to contact us if you require any additional reassurance regarding this and follow us on Facebook to see our most recent announcements. We would like to reassure you that we are operating as normal in terms of your care where possible, with only a few minor changes to our services at this time. If there are any considerable changes that you must be notified about, we will be contacting every service user on an individual basis. So, if you do not hear from us in this respect and you do not contact us yourself regaridng the continutation of your care during this pandemic, please assume that your care will be continuing as norma 
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