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Staffordshire will move to very high COVID alert level on 2 December

Previous updates

You can find our previous updates to the Coronavirus Covid-19 site here.

Message from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Social Care: 20 November 2020

With two more weeks of national lockdown ahead of us, there are now some early signs that the spread of the virus is starting to slow, with the number of new cases levelling off in a number of districts/boroughs. However, the Staffordshire Covid-19 case rate remains higher than the West Midlands and national averages, so there is by no means any room for complacency. As we look ahead to our position after 2 December 2020, there is now national debate over the strength and effectiveness of lower tiers of restrictions. At this stage it is, however, not possible to indicate what that will mean for Staffordshire residents and businesses as we wait to find out what tier we will fall into following the end of the national lockdown and what the restrictions will look like in accordance with that. 

This week, I would like to draw your attention to the following:

Infection prevention and control

1. The care sector plays an essential role in accepting patients who have been discharged from hospital and helping them to recover quicker. As hospitals have greater than normal pressure on beds now due to COVID-19, this support is even more important this winter. Wherever possible patients need to return home, with home care where necessary. For some patients, a care home discharge is also needed. Quick discharges help make best use of hospital beds for people who need them, and the best outcomes for those who need alternative care. Of course, it is important that discharges and ongoing care are safe. So:  

  • We do ask that home care and care homes contracted with the Council will continue to accept new clients / residents safely and do so in a timely manner to facilitate hospital discharges.
  • Please remember that Admission and care of residents in a care home during Covid-19 guidance requires all individuals being discharged from hospital into a care home to be isolated for 14 days within their own room, regardless of whether they have already undergone isolation for a 14-day period and regardless of their test outcome prior to discharge. 
  • Similarly, as set out in paragraph 1.35 of the Covid-19 adult social care action plan, any individual being taken on by a home care or supported living care provider should be cared for as possibly Covid-19 positive for 14 days within their home. 

2. As you are aware, the Adult social care: our Covid-19 winter plan 2020 to 2021 outlines that staff should not work if they have Covid-19 symptoms; if a member of their household has symptoms or has had a recent positive test, or; they have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. To support care providers and their staff to comply with this, the extension of the Infection Control Fund allows continued support for providers to pay staff who are isolating in line with government guidance and to receive their normal wages whilst they are doing so. We are therefore very keen to see evidence through capacity tracker and ICF2 monthly reports that providers are following this guidance. We need to avoid the possibility of staff actively withholding information from their employer if they have been identified as a contact or have tested positive for COVID-19, if they are concerned self-isolation would mean a drop in their pay.

3. The Infection Control Grant Funding (2) is to be used for expenditure incurred from 1 October 2020 up until 31 March 2021. Please make sure that you spend your grant on relevant and eligible infection control measures on or before the 31 March 2021, including supporting hospital discharges safely.  We would rather avoid providers having to return money to the Council and we do not want to have to return any money to the Government as this risks sending a misleading message about the status of funding in the sector.

4. This week, we have been informed about the success of trials of further Covid-19 vaccines, which are now either entering final stages of population testing or are waiting for regulatory approval to provide final assurance of their safety in preparation for a population-wide vaccination programme. Once regulatory approval has been given to a vaccine:

  • The NHS is responsible for vaccine delivery and should be ready to deliver the vaccine to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible
  • It has been advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that vaccines should be given to care home residents and staff first, followed by people aged over 80 and health and social workers, before being rolled out to the rest of the population in order of age and risk. 
  • Invitations and reminders will be issued to each target group in order of immunisation priority and online and telephone booking systems will be set up so that people can choose the right time and location for them to attend for vaccination.
  • It is likely to be Spring 2021 before the vaccine it is widely available to the general population, but it is hoped that vaccinations in care homes will start before the end of December 2020. 
  • We will confirm arrangements for vaccination of individuals in care home settings as soon as know more about this. 
  • Individuals will inevitably question whether a vaccine that they hear is not 100% effective is safe or worth having. In response to that, even with a successful vaccination programme in place, Covid-19 is likely to remain within the population, although the key point is that it will remain at a much lower level if this is in place. If a vaccine is 90% effective, that means 10 in 100 vaccinated people could potentially still become infected when exposed to the virus.
  • Greater uptake of a vaccine brings with it greater protection even for those individuals who are unvaccinated, as it reduces the spread of the virus. If uptake of the vaccine is low, which hopefully will not be the case, then we would expect to continue to face high population infection rates.

5. Please also note the importance of flu vaccinations this winter to help protect against the additional risk of Covid-19 infection. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are protected from exposure to risk of infection and to support a high rate of uptake as this will also help protect individuals they care for from infection and ensure that their business remains resilient during the winter months. Adult social care employers must also record the flu vaccination status of their staff. This is important for the protection of staff and the individuals they care for during the management of cases / outbreaks, and in order that information about flu and flu vaccine can be provided to those staff members who have not received the vaccine. Please see the Social care flu vaccination guidance for further details for responsibilities relating to your staff. In addition to this, residents in long term residential care facilities should also be provided with information and should be actively encouraged and supported to have flu immunisation. If you are having difficulties in accessing flu vaccinations, you can let us know by email: ascincidentmanagment@staffordshire.gov.uk.

PPE guidance updates

6. PPE order limits for home care providers have been updated this week in the PPE portal: how to order COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) guidance link.

7. Workforce assessment and risk reduction Coronavirus (Covid-19): reducing risk in adult social care guidance has also been updated (18 November 2020) based on current clinical advice. Easy read and translated versions have been temporarily removed as they are currently being updated.

Testing update

8. Missing test results (care homes): DHSC report that the two main causes of delays in tests results are because care homes are not booking couriers in a timely fashion and because tests are not being registered (the latter being a more common cause). Please check all missing test results have been registered properly before escalating them. 

If you have failed to receive 10 or more test results after a period of seven days or more, you can either contact the Specialist Care Homes Team directly on 119 or email us at COVID19testresults@staffordshire.gov.uk and we will escalate this to DHSC on your behalf. If you wish us to escalate this on your behalf, please provide the following information:

  • Name, address and post code of the care home affected
  • Dates of the tests in question (including registration detail)
  • Any information you are able to provide about the courier handling the kit (their name, time/date of collection etc.)

9. The Council’s Covid-19 Testing Team is supporting care homes which haven't yet placed an order themselves by routinely ordering Repeat Test Kits. We order these test kits based on the information provided to us about your staffing numbers as of June 2020. If you’re receiving too many or too few test kits, please contact us at COVID19testresults@staffordshire.gov.uk to update your staffing numbers (noting that test kits come in boxes of 50 so if we order 52, you will receive 100). Please also email us if you would prefer to order the test kits for yourself. Please note that, if you’ve already placed your own order, there is no risk that we will duplicate this as the registration portal prevents us from doing so.  

10. In my update last week, I mentioned that Staffordshire will be rolling out Covid-19 lateral flow testing as part of a national programme. These tests provide results within the hour, without the need to go to a lab to be processed. We are expecting 20,000 lateral flow tests initially, with further supplies available in subsequent weeks. We are looking to target the tests in a number of settings where the case rates are highest, including universities, sixth forms, public sector partners, large employers, care providers and communities. By widening our offer of testing, we can identify more people who have the virus and need to self-isolate, which in turn slows the spread of infection and reduces the number of cases. Any care providers interested in early deployment of these tests can get in touch with us via the ascincidentmanagement@staffordshire.gov.uk email.

Capacity Tracker updates

11. We have sent out a communication to all care homes to identify where to locate the new Infection Control Fund (2) weekly and monthly questions and to clarify what data needs to be updated daily, weekly and monthly on the system. The section on the Capacity Tracker on our Information for care homes webpage has also been updated with this information and the information in the next paragraph.

12. To determine Covid-19 status on discharge following a hospital stay the Capacity Tracker has added the following question: In the last 7 days, have any residents been discharged from an NHS TRUST hospital to your location? If this is selected as a ‘yes’, care homes will be asked to give numbers of positive, negative, awaiting result and untested residents and will be asked to identify where untested residents have been discharged from. 

I would also like remind you and alert you to the following:

13. This week we have run two separate business continuity workshops for providers seeking further support in development of their business continuity plans. A copy of the slides from these workshops are now available in the ‘Contingency Planning and National Guidance’ section of the Frequently asked questions page of our website. 

14. A recording and the slide contents from the ‘Covid-19 second wave – urgent and key actions for care homes re Infection Prevention and Control’ webinar held on 12 November 2020 is now available on our Information for care homes webpage. 

15. The government has updated its guidance about the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS) during the pandemic. The recent update includes guidance on face-to-face visits by professionals in both the main guidance document and additional guidance document.

16. If you want to check any of my previous updates, please use this Previous updates webpage link.

17. Please continue to contact us on our ascincidentmanagement@staffordshire.gov.uk mailbox or telephone us on 0300 111 8050 if you have any concerns or queries.


Message from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care:  3 November 2020

Following our first full week in lockdown, Covid-19 cases continue to increase, although more slowly than in the last few weeks. Our new case rates for the last 7 days remain higher than the England and West Midlands per 100,000 population. Cases so far during this second lockdown have arisen due to infections prior to lockdown, so hopefully we should start to see cases plateau and fall in the next couple of weeks. However, we can expect rising pressure on hospitals for several weeks and adult social care services will need to continue to play a vital role in supporting hospital discharges.

This week, I would like to draw your attention to the following:

Infection prevention and control

  1. We have run a further Infection Prevention and Control webinar for care homes this week to ensure providers are up to date with national guidance. Providers unable to attend will be able to find a recording of the session on our Information for care homes webpage. There are, however, some specific points from this that I would like to outline that apply more widely across the market:
  • In Staffordshire, we are seeing a number of people who are not displaying typical Covid-19 symptoms. In response, we are asking people to consider getting tested as a precaution if they have other symptoms such as:
    • Headaches
    • Aches and pains
    • Feeling very tired for no good reason
    • Sore throat
    • Runny nose
    • Sneezing
  • Please ensure that staff are tested if there is any doubt of their Covid-19 status. Those providers not involved in blanket testing can advise their staff to use the option of “my council has asked me to book a test” if they have one of the wider symptoms when booking tests using the national testing sites.
  • Where individuals are in social isolation, there is a greater risk of deterioration in their physical condition. To reduce the risk of this, we would advise providers to: monitor and assist service users to ensure adequacy of fluid and food intake (fortifying foods as appropriate); reposition service users regularly, encouraging them to stand or to walk if they can around their room; check their skin integrity if the service user is chair or bed-bound; and pay particular attention to detail shared in hand over notes so that any signs of deterioration can be communicated, detected and managed proactively.
    • All staff, regardless of their role in residential environments, should wear surgical masks including kitchen staff, domestics, admin and maintenance staff. Cloth face masks are not a suitable replacement for surgical face masks. Visors do not offer the same protection as surgical masks – Please note these offer only eye protection.
  • Change surgical face masks that are damp, soiled or damaged. Change surgical masks after staff breaks have been taken and/or if they have been removed for any reason and if a mask curls up and/or the interior becomes exposed, change the mask.
  • Do not wear masks under the chin. They should either be on properly or fully removed. Avoid touching and repositioning surgical face masks (and if you do, ensure you follow the full hand hygiene protocol immediately afterwards, as you should do directly after removing a mask).
  • Ensure there are multi-disciplinary risk assessments in situ for any of your service users who may be distressed / anxious when in contact with staff in surgical face masks. Consider trialling transparent face masks in these situations. Section 3 in the guidance documents above for individuals with autism or learning disabilities and SCIE's COVID-19 Dementia webpage resources are helpful resources.
  • Staff should remove jewellery from the elbow down i.e. watches, rings and bracelets whilst working to ensure thorough hand washing can be achieved.
  • All staff in contact with one another in the course of their duties and during breaks both day and night staff), should adhere to the PPE guidance regarding the wearing of masks and should follow the social distancing guidance.
  • Ensure staff break areas are cleaned thoroughly and regularly.
  • As well as deep cleaning and communal touch point cleaning, ensure items such as phones, electronic devices, remotes controls are cleaned after each use (which includes devices handled by staff and service users).
  • In residential settings, cohort or group residents and staff where possible – removing / minimising any crossover between these groups, especially if one group has had a positive COVID-19 case.

  • Actively encourage your staff to use the Test and Trace App and to engage with Test and Trace / Contact Tracing in the wider community, detailing quickly and honestly any contacts they may have had during the contact tracing period to help reduce the risk of transmission, including declaring if staff socialise outside of the workplace or form part of another staff member’s bubble.

Visiting guidance in care homes and supported living / extra care settings

2. Please note that our position on care home visiting is aligned with the current  Visiting arrangements in  care homes for the period of national restrictions guidance (5 November 2020), as indicated on my update last week. Please also refer to the Information for care homes webpage for our local guidance (updated 13 November 2020).

3. Those of you who provide care in supported living and extra case housing schemes can refer to existing Covid-19 guidance for supported living and specifically its Visitors and support bubbles section, bearing in mind the current New National Restrictions from 5 November guidelines restrict visits to members within an existing support bubble only.

Covid-19 vaccinations

4. Preliminary findings suggest a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech can prevent more than 90% of people from getting COVID-19. The news has been met with cautious optimism by medical experts. We are working with local partners to make sure that we will be ready to follow guidance on implementation of the vaccination programme as quickly and effectively as possible when it has reached the necessary level of approval and will let you know when this is likely to happen as soon as we can. In the meantime, it is important to maintain everything we are doing now in order to control the virus.

Testing update

5. The national COVID-19 antigen testing programme no longer uses wording for ‘void’ or ‘inconclusive’ results when a clear negative or positive test result cannot be provided. This has been replaced with the following wording: ‘We could not read your coronavirus test sample. This means it’s not possible to say if you had the virus when the test was done. We’re sorry, but you’ll need to get another test as soon as possible. Keep self-isolating (and stay off work if relevant) if:

6. In preparation for the Christmas period, all test kit orders dispatched to care homes between 9 November and 6 December will receive a six week supply of tests kits instead of four, to make sure care homes have enough kits to last through the Christmas period when some Royal Mail deliveries may be delayed. Homes do not need to do anything differently when placing their next order and will still be able to order their next round of test kits 21 days after receipt of the email confirming the delivery date of your previous order. Please do not delay your next order however, as this will allow for any delivery delays over the Christmas season. We will continue to order test kits for care homes in Staffordshire when they become eligible for re-order, unless you have asked us not to. Don’t worry if you have already placed an order as we will not be able to place a duplicate order.

  • You have or develop symptoms of coronavirus
  • Someone you live with has symptoms or tests positive
  • You’ve been traced as a contact of someone who tested positive’

7. You will be able to order couriers throughout the Christmas period, but please note that on Christmas day there will be a reduced number of courier slots available, so please book these in advance if you expect to need them.

8. To identify more cases of coronavirus and stop the spread of infection, we are one of a number of local authorities to sign up for the roll out of the new rapid COVID lateral flow tests which can give results in under an hour, without the need for laboratory processing. The Government is indicating that councils could receive up to 10,000 tests per week to allow them to test high risk groups in their communities. Plans for Staffordshire are still to be finalised and I’ll keep you up to date as the plans progress.

PPE guidance updates

9. We have updated our summary local PPE guidance in line with recent changes to the national COVID-19: How to work safely in  care homes and COVID-19: How to work safely in home care guidance on our PPE webpage.

10. I would like to draw your attention to recently (2 November 2020) updated Health and Safety Executive Fit testing face masks to avoid transmission during the coronavirus pandemic guidance. The main new points relate to qualitative fit testing and actions which should be carried out after every fit test, which will require those of you who use tight fitting respirator equipment for aerosol generating procedures to review your cleaning and decontamination process for qualitative fit testing. Suggestions we have picked up from other NHS Trusts include:

  • Have spare sets of nebulisers to use whilst one set is cleaning and drying
  • Have spare hoods
  • Have additional Qualitative Kits so that these can be used in rotation
  • Use a buddy system to assist with cleaning

Business Continuity Plans 

11. The Adult social care: our COVID-19 winter plan 2020 to 2021 outlines that all care providers have an essential role in keeping individuals with care needs safe from COVID-19 and will need to continue to be adaptable and responsive. It also requires all providers to review and update their Business Continuity Plans for the autumn and winter, stating that workforce resilience should be a key component of this. We know that many of you have done this. However, if you feel you would benefit from some support, we have organised two separate interactive Business Continuity Plans - Workshops for Providers to run on Monday 16 November 4-5 p.m. and Tuesday 17 November 2-3 p.m. These will be an opportunity to share tips with you regarding what you need to consider when developing your business continuity plans and allowing time for questions and answers to help you adapt your plans to your business needs. Businesses who are confident in the development of their plans don’t need to join us.

12. Additionally, please go to the following Skills for Care ensuring quality of care direct website link for additional resources which are available for providers to use.

Changes to questions for care homes in Capacity Tracker due to take place on 9 November - a further update added on 19 November

13. Questions currently completed as part of the Infection Control Fund (ICF) conditions and wider infection prevention measures have been reviewed to improve how they map against the actions set out in the Adult Social Care Winter Plan. This has resulted in some existing questions being removed, some re-worded and some new questions added. New questions cover the following areas: 

  • Limiting the use of public transport by members of staff
  • Staff choosing to stay separately from their families
  • Residents receiving visitors
  • Regular weekly testing of staff for COVID-19. 

The majority of the questions require review and update weekly and some monthly, so please ensure you complete these accordingly.  

14. Home Care and Supported Living Providers will shortly be added to the Capacity Tracker system. The CQC and Department of Health and Social Care will be contacting all appropriate providers in the coming few days to indicate when the transition will take place and provide further details. In the meantime, you are advised not to register on the Capacity Tracker and continue to update the existing system, as I indicated in my update last week until you receive information setting out the timeline and process.

Flu vaccinations for personal assistants

15. If you are an individual employer, please can you ensure you and your personal assistants are sighted on the Personal care assistants: guidance for free flu vaccination webpage which details the free flu vaccination offer available to personal assistants.

I would also like remind you of the following:

16. The 2020 Dignity in Care awards were live streamed on 11 November 2020 from the Dignity in Care web page. Any staff who can now download this at their leisure. We would like to thank all of you who took the time to nominate others for awards and we would also like to congratulate our award winners and for those who were nominated for the difference you all make to the lives of Staffordshire citizens.

17. If you want to check any of my previous updates, please use this Previous updates webpage link.

18. Please continue to contact us on our ascincidentmanagement@staffordshire.gov.uk mailbox or telephone us on 0300 111 8050 if you have any concerns or queries.


Important Customer Alert (ICA) for Flosteril non-sterile gowns (FLO-MED 8130) 

On 11 August an alert was issued that Flosteril non-sterile gowns gowns do not meet the minimum standard for fluid resistance and should not be used.

Immediate recommended action is to check for any unused stock, stop using and quarantine any unused gowns and prepare quarantined gowns for collection or return them to your private supplier. Full instructions and information is contained within the accompanying ICA.

Please note that the gowns have not been distributed to Local Resilience Forums via the Department of Health and Social Care and will not have been in any PPE stocks provided by Staffordshire County Council but it is important that you check for any unused stock in case you have received the gowns through other distribution routes. Please see the alert below:

Flosteril non-sterile gowns ICA 110820 (372 KB)

If you have further questions about the Customer Alert, please contact the DHSC PPE Demand Team at Covid19.LRF@dhsc.gov.uk


Message from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care - 6 November 2020

In response to rapidly rising cases across the UK and other countries and in order to reduce the rate of the spread of Covid-19, the Government has implemented a second national lockdown, effective from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December. In Staffordshire, average rates of infection per 100,000 population are now notably higher now than the West Midlands and England. Progress in controlling the virus over the next few weeks will be critical in influencing demand on local health and care services and determining the risk level and restrictions applied to Staffordshire when the current period of lockdown ends.

We are continuing to closely monitor and support the adult social care sector seven days a week. Care providers must remain extremely vigilant at all times in their use of PPE, environmental hygiene measures, hand hygiene and social distancing as well as cohorting and isolating of residents in line with national guidance. New National Restrictions from 5 November guidelines specific to this period of lockdown are available for business and the public to refer to. Do not hesitate to contact us on ASCIncidentManagement@staffordshire.gov.uk if you have any queries or concerns over this period.

This week, I would like to draw your attention to the following: 

Care home visiting guidance

National Visiting arrangements in care homes for the period of national restrictions guidance was published on 5 November 2020 and replaces previous guidance for care homes. It aims to allow all care home residents in England to receive visits from their family and friends in a Covid-secure way (using social distancing and PPE) throughout the period that the national lockdown restrictions are in place. It sets out clear principles for how visits are conducted, accounting for the fact that all arrangements will need to be adapted from home to home based on residents’ needs, layout and the facilities available. Please review the guidance carefully, and only allow visits (other than essential visits) where you can ensure infection control.

We will be updating the local visiting guidance to align with this and will alert you as soon as this is available. In the meantime, the new national guidance replaces all previous guidance on visiting. Specifically it supersedes guidance issued last week to return to essential visiting only, which was a national requirement of our former ‘High Alert’ level. It you have any suggestions for issues we should include in our local guidance please let us know. 

Isolating residents following hospital discharge or a positive Covid-19 test

It is extremely important when considering both infection risk and protection of mental and physical health and wellbeing of residents, that social isolation periods for residents are applied in line with national COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients or residents in health and social care settings and Admission and care of residents in a care home during COVID-19 guidance. Of particular note, I would like to reiterate:

  • The infectious period of Covid-19 is usually taken as 10 days – in care homes this is extended to 14 days as a precaution.
  • The 14-day isolation period applies to existing residents returning to a care home after a hospital stay or to new residents. Residents can be cared for as normal after this period.
  • People who test positive for Covid-19 can continue to test positive long after they are infectious. That is in the nature of the antigen test and it is why the national advice for your residents is not to retest for a period of 90 days after they have tested as positive. Once they have completed the isolation period of 14 days from onset of symptoms or the date of the positive test was taken if asymptomatic then, provided they no longer have a fever, they are not infectious and can be safely admitted or readmitted to the home. You should regard them as if they had had a negative result and manage them as set out in the next bullet point.
  • Even if an individual tests negative, you still need to apply infection prevention and control measures; they could still have the virus, either because they have become infected after the test, or because they are a false negative: the tests are not 100% accurate. It is important to apply the guidance for isolation and infection prevention and control (including isolating for the relevant period) for newly admitted residents who have tested negative for Covid-19. 

Paying staff to self-isolate

A relatively small proportion of Staffordshire care homes are reporting to the national Capacity Tracker that they pay staff to self-isolate. Please could all care homes review their sickness absence policies and practice and ensure that they pay staff to self-isolate when required, and then update the capacity tracker accordingly. Please be aware that this is a requirement of funding through the second tranche of Infection Control Funding and that not paying staff who are self isolating when are classified as having been in contact with COVID-19 has been identified as a risk factor for outbreaks in care homes. 

Changes relating to individuals at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable

Please be aware the new lockdown restrictions– Section 9: Protecting people more at risk from coronavirus – indicates that individuals aged 60 years and above (not 70 years and above as was the case previously) and those who are clinically vulnerable, are both considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

National Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 has been updated this week with important additional advice on how this group can protect themselves during the next four weeks of the national lockdown. The Government will write to all individuals affected, outlining the updated guidance and providing them with details of how to seek support, if needed. Please be aware of this change in guidance when completing risk assessments for your service users and staff. 

Winter flu vaccinations

Please note that as an employer of health or social care staff, it is an employer’s responsibility to ensure staff directly involved in providing care have the flu vaccination and it is even more important this winter to help protect frontline staff with the additional risk of Covid-19 infection. Please see the Social care flu vaccination guidance for further details. 

PPE guidance updates

Public Health England has recently updated their how to work safely in care homes and how to work safely in domiciliary care in England Covid-19 guidance. The updates include guidance on and comparison of vinyl, nitrile and latex gloves from a performance and safety perspective and provide advice on what to do if gloves are torn during use. This can be found in ‘Section 2: Questions and Answers’ within these documents. We will be updating our summary PPE guidance on our PPE webpage in the next few days to reflect these changes.

Please also note that updated PPE order limits for all sectors have been added to the PPE portal: how to order COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) guidance. 

Workforce recruitment and retention

DHSC has circulated the latest performance summary of the national recruitment campaign. The update provides statistics on campaign performance and a summary of a survey of those working in the social care sector, demonstrating an increase in either enquiries, applications, interviews or vacancies filled while the campaign was live. For further support on recruitment and retention, visit the Skills for Care Recruitment and Retention and the Care Market development Team's Recruitment & Retention During The COVID-19 Pandemic webpage. 

Understanding the status of the workforce

There are two key routes where you can update your workforce statistics. All of these have benefits in relation to helping the local health and care system plan the support needed for you currently, so please do ensure you use these and keep these up to date. These are:

  • Capacity Tracker– care homes are required to update this daily or more often if there are any changes.
  • CQC ‘impact of coronavirus online form’ – home care providers are emailed every weekday to update their status.
  • Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS)  - used by 20,000 care providers nationally. Like the above datasets, this also benefits national and local systems planning, but it also provides a useful resource for organisations to store records of staff, training and qualifications and allows you to benchmark your status against other organisations in your area. It is also a pre-requisite to accessing money available from the Workforce Development Fund. 

Day Opportunities testing pilot

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) have given approval for the Council to develop a pilot antigen testing programme for building based day opportunity services located within Staffordshire that will provide a one-off test to staff and service users. We wrote out to all known building-based day opportunity services last week providing further information. If you would like further information about this please email COVID19testresults@staffordshire.gov.uk. 

Dignity in Care Awards 2020/2021

A live stream of the awards celebration and announcement of the winners of the 2020 Dignity in Care Awards will be available to access at 2 p.m. on 11 November 2020 from the Dignity in Care web page. Any staff who can’t watch it as we live stream it can download it at their leisure. We have a few tricks up our sleeve and there will be truly humbling and uplifting accounts of dignity in care in action in Staffordshire in this, so please do join us as we watch this and encourage your staff to do so too. 

Uber Eats and Care Provider Alliance discounts for care workers

The Care Provider Alliance has partnered with Uber Eats to provide discounts on food deliveries for social care staff during the coronavirus outbreak. To benefit from it, the care worker needs to have an existing Uber Eats account, and then they can just join the CPA 10% DISCOUNT profile. Offers are available until 31 December 2020.  

Free access to a live streaming of Christmas Carol at the Old Vic for care homes

There are a number of live streamed performance for care homes (for staff and residents) to access over the Christmas period. Please go to: The Old Vic website for further details. 

I would also like remind you of the following:

  • Infection Control Fund: For those organisations that have not done so before now, please could you return a signed copy of the grant letter sent to us as soon as possible.
  • Business Continuity Plans:  Please email us at ascincidentmanagement@staffordshire.gov.uk to let us know once you have updated your business continuity plan if you have not already done so and/or if you need any help with this process.
  • Planned deletion of inactive NHSmail accounts: Please ensure all your NHSmail accounts are being used and remain active as those not used in 90 days or longer will be removed by end November. Please re-use to reactive your accounts as soon as possible or consider applying for an account following guidance on our Enhancing care provider communications during the COVID-19 outbreak webpage.
  • Please continue to contact us on our ascincidentmanagement@staffordshire.gov.uk mailbox or telephone us on 0300 111 8050 if you have any concerns or queries.


Message to providers from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care: 29 October 2020

The number of cases of Covid-19 across the county has continued to rise sharply in recent weeks, despite everyone’s best efforts.

In order to try and stop the spread of infection, the Government now plans to move Staffordshire to the High Alert Level as of 00:01 Saturday 31 October. 

The main difference in moving to the High Alert level is the legal restriction on people meeting with friends and family they don’t live with indoors. This includes in private homes and public settings such as pubs.

The Government also advise that relatives should not visit care homes, except in exceptional circumstances, for example where residents are at the end of life. We are seeking further clarification from the Government about any other exceptions. 

While non-essential visits can no longer happen, care homes can still promote virtual contact with friends and families.

Our priority is to keep people safe and to get the Alert Level back down again as quickly as possible and the best way to do this is to follow the new rules. Further guidance for people visiting care homes is available here

Thank you for your continued hard work and support.

I would also like to draw your attention to the following:  

Asymptomatic individuals:  The number of asymptomatic cases, both users of services and employees, testing positive for Covid-19 across adult care settings is increasing.  The number of cases reporting ‘cold’ like symptoms prior to testing is increasing – please ensure you are exercising diligence during this period if users or staff are reporting these symptoms. 

Please ensure all staff are adhering to the appropriate PPE guidance (for the relevant care type) and share any possible breaches or concerns at the earliest opportunity to help mitigate the risk of transmission.

Agency Staff in Care Homes: We know staff recruitment and retention can often be challenging in the health and care sector; Covid-19 has only increased this challenge.  The number of agency staff testing positive for Covid-19 in care homes is increasing.  To help maintain the health and safety of everybody, if there is a requirement to use agency staff please ensure:

  • Exclusivity - ensuring agency staff are not working in other health and social care settings
  • Block Booking
  • Covid Status – ensuring you have written evidence of Covid status and including agency staff in your weekly testing regimes
  • Agency staff competence and training, particularly in respect of infection control.

Infection Control Fund: we have now written to all care homes and home care providers based in Staffordshire to confirm their Infection Control Fund allocation.  Could I ask that you please return a signed copy of the grant letter to us as soon as possible to confirm your acceptance of the terms.  Copies of the letters along with the Grant Conditions are available to view on our Information for care homes and Information for home care and extra care providers pages. 

Business Continuity Plans:  As required by the Adult Social Care Winter Plan all providers should review and update their business continuity plans for the autumn and winter, of which workforce resilience should be a key component.  We ask that all providers email us at ascincidentmanagement@staffordshire.gov.uk to let us know if you have done so.  If you have not already reviewed it, please can you do so and confirm to us.  If you are a smaller organisation and struggling to update your BCP please let us know via the same email and we will see what support we can offer. 

 PPE:  This week the Government issued guidance on Personal protective equipment (PPE): local contacts for care providers. This guidance provides a list of local contacts for care providers who are not on the PPE portal. Please remember, details of how you can access an emergency supply of PPE from the council are on the Personal protective equipment (PPE) webpage.

PPE Portal: The order limits for domiciliary care providers and residential care homes have been updated.  You can also now find the details of the PPE portal customer service team on the portal. 

Testing in care homes: all care homes should now be testing staff on a weekly basis and residents every 28 days.  For further information please see our Testing in Care Homes webpage.

Testing in extra care and supported living schemes:  all supported living and extra care providers in Staffordshire which are classified as eligible for a one-off round of testing should now have received an email from DHSC confirming their Unique Organisation Number (UON) and the process they need to follow to register for test kits. 

DHSC have advised that some minor technical difficulties may have resulted in some extra care or supported living services receiving an incorrect or duplicate UON, however the most recent email received on 26 October includes the correct UON number. Please note that if services placed an order with their previous UON, this order will not be affected, however they should use their new UON moving forwards. If your UON isn’t working when trying to register for test kits please email COVID19testresults@staffordshire.gov.uk and we will escalate it to DHSC so they can look into it and get the issue resolved for you.  For any further queries about the process please see our dedicated Supported Living and Extra Care Testing webpage or call the Test and Trace Team on 119. 

Changes to the process for registering test kits: DHSC are introducing changes to the process for registering coronavirus test kits to help NHS Track and Trace improve contract tracing.  From Friday 30 October you will need to include the first line of the individual’s address when registering the kit.  To avoid service disruption and give all providers time to collect this information, for one week only you will be able to add your organisation name as the “first line of address”.

COVID-19: supporting adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults:  The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has provided clarity on the status of day services in areas under High or Very High local Covid alert levels. The high alert level guidance states ‘support groups of up to 15 participants – formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support (not to take place in private dwellings)’ are allowed to gather in groups larger than 6 people, from different households. The DHSC has confirmed that support groups include day services.

I would also like to remind you of the following:

Infection prevention and control: following the message last week: 

As per the national guidance for the provision of home care, any care worker visiting people’s homes to deliver care (domiciliary / home care) during sustained Covid-19 transmission in the UK, is required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as specified in the supporting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – resource for care workers, without exception.  Please note: this applies to care workers delivering care in a supported living setting also.

This includes care workers wearing face masks, to offer protection to both the care workers and the people they are supporting, in all circumstances.  The guidance clearly specifies the required PPE based on the type of care and support being delivered.  

All care workers and agencies should adhere to the guidance at the soonest opportunity.  If the implementation of this guidance negatively impacts on your business continuity, and thus the delivery of care and support, please contact: ASCIncidentManagement@staffordshire.gov.uk in the first instance to discuss your specific circumstances and concerns.

Dignity in Care Awards:  to help us mark the huge difference that dignity in care makes, please put our first ever virtual Dignity in Care Awards celebrations on 11 November in your diary.  If you have nominated somebody, been nominated or are keen to see what this is all about, please join us for this important event.  We’ll shortly be sharing the links to join the award ceremony.

Managers Quality Network Forum:  all slides and presentations from last week’s event are now available on the Virtual Managers Quality Networking Forum page.  I would also invite you to complete the evaluation form for the event which will be live from 30 October until 13 November.  As this was our first ever digital MQNF we’d very much appreciate your feedback on this event.  

You can find copies of previous weekly messages to providers from the Director of Health and Care on the Previous Updates page.

Please continue to contact us at our ascincidentmanagement@staffordshire.gov.uk mailbox or telephone us on 0300 111 8050 if you have any concerns or queries.

Message to providers from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care:  23 October 2020

This week, Staffordshire remains on the local Covid Medium Alert level. However, cases are rising across the county and rising fast. We are working hard with partners to bring the rate of infection down to prevent Staffordshire progressing into a high alert level. All of our districts and boroughs are now at or over 100 cases per 100,000 population. In some areas it is the rapid recent increase rather than the numbers which is also of concern.  We will be continuing to work with Government to ensure that Staffordshire remains at the Medium Alert level for as long as possible while it is safe to do so. We all have a role to play in this and cannot afford to let any of our protective measures slip.

Stoke-on-Trent will move to High Alert, with the associated restrictions, from Saturday 24 October.  For clarity, adult social care workers who live in other areas, including those rated as High Alert, such as Stoke-on-Trent, can continue to come to work in Staffordshire.  Restrictions only apply to people meeting up indoors for social purposes.

Infection prevention and control: Following on from the above, please can I clarify the following:

This includes care workers wearing face masks, to offer protection to both the care workers and the people they are supporting, in all circumstances.  The guidance clearly specifies the required PPE based on the type of care and support being delivered.  

All care workers and agencies should adhere to the guidance at the soonest opportunity.  If the implementation of this guidance negatively impacts on your business continuity, and thus the delivery of care and support, please contact: ASCIncidentManagement@staffordshire.gov.uk in the first instance to discuss your specific circumstances and concerns.

  • Please remember that a 14 day self-isolation period applies in accordance with the Covid-19 Admission and care of people in care homes guidance to all residents returning from hospital into a care home, regardless of whether they received a positive or a negative coronavirus test outcome in hospital prior to their return.

Hospital visitor restrictions: Please note that the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust are bringing back visiting restrictions. The Trust has seen a significant increase in admissions for patients who are Covid-19 positive and expects the number to rise further. For your information, the Trust is now asking visitors not to attend the hospitals, unless:

  • Visiting a patient undergoing end of life care
  • Accompanying vulnerable patients, specifically those with learning disabilities, dementia, mental health or complex needs, as well as those who are unable to make decisions for themselves.

Managers Quality Network Forum: We held our first virtual forum for providers on Monday 19 October which included a Covid-19 update, a live Q&A panel, an update from CQC and workshops on infection prevention and control, mental health and wellbeing, recruitment and retention and digital innovation in care. We were unable when using Microsoft Teams to record the event (for Data Protection purposes), but please go to the Virtual Managers Quality Networking Forum webpage where we will be uploading slides and additional information from the event, which you can view and download. I would like to thank delegates for your active engagement in this and all of our speakers and Care Market Development Team colleagues who organised this. We hope those of you who attended found it useful and informative.

Dignity in Care Awards 2020/2021: I am very pleased to announce that we now have a confirmed date for our Dignity in Care awards on 11 November 2020. We will issue the link to join this imminently. We usually deliver this face to face in the summer months. Determined not to be deterred by this, the Care Market Development Team have planned our first ever virtual awards celebration. If you have nominated somebody, been nominated or are keen to see what this is all about, please do join us for this really important event. It shows clearly what dignity champions / heroes we have in the community and in care settings across Staffordshire and what a huge difference dignity in care makes. 

Infection Control Fund: We have continued to work on our Infection Control Fund allocations this week, and we are now at the point where we are writing out to providers to confirm these. You should be receiving your letter imminently.

Weekend testing:  Testing at the weekends helps DHSC make best use of lab capacity.  As we’re continuing to support care homes by registering them for repeat testing, if you haven’t already we’d really appreciate homes letting us know whether or not they can carry out weekend testing by emailing us at COVID19testresults@staffordshire.gov.uk.  To date 160 care homes in Staffordshire haven’t confirmed this information to us. If you cannot test at a weekend this is not a problem, please just let us know either way as we need this information when placing orders for test kits. 

Testing in extra care and supported living settings:  DHSC have set a timescale of end of October for all eligible settings provided by the deadline to be registered and able to order test kits.  Although there is no deadline for settings to conduct the one-off testing, DHSC plan to analyse data from the programme in mid-November to inform policy decisions.  To help you get ahead with preparing for testing, I strongly encourage you to join one of the regular DHSC webinars for a step-by-step walk through of the process, including a look at the test kits and how to package them, and an opportunity to ask questions.  DHSC will shortly be emailing providers with their unique organisation number (UON) which they need to register for the kit, plus details of the next steps and links to resources and toolkits.  Please continue to look out for emails from organisation.coronavirus.testing@notifications.service.gov.uk.  We will also update our Covid-19 Testing pages with the latest information.

At home antibody testing:  The Government has made home antibody testing available for paid adult social care staff over the age of 18.  The home test uses a finger prick blood test to check for coronavirus antibodies.  You can find more information and how to register for the test on our Antibody Testing page.

Shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from Covid-19: This week has seen the introduction of updated Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from Covid-19 and we understand that communications tailored to where individuals live will follow this. The revised approach is less restrictive than the original guidance. 

New CQC Annual State of Care 2019/2020 report: This year’s assessment considers the state of care before Covid-19 and on the impact of Covid-19 and what happens next. It has explored how sectors and providers have worked together locally, especially in response to Covid-19.

New Equality and human rights in residential care in England during coronavirus briefing: This report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission is intended for decision-makers and providers to support them to comply with their obligations and embed equality and human rights considerations in the ongoing response to the pandemic.

I would also like remind you of the following:

Warning - Planned deletion of inactive NHSmail accounts: At the end of November, all inactive NHSmail accounts (those not used in 90 days or longer) will be removed.  Please re-use to reactive your accounts as soon as possible or consider applying for an account following guidance on our Enhancing care provider communications during the Covid-19 outbreak webpage.

Please continue to contact us at our ascincidentmanagement@staffordshire.gov.uk mailbox or telephone us on 0300 111 8050 if you have any concerns or queries.

Message to providers from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care:  16 October 2020

This week’s update comes amidst a further surge in Covid-19 cases locally, regionally and nationally. For the latest complete week for which data is available (7 days to 12 October), 123.5 cases per 100,000 population have been recorded in Staffordshire, compared to 133.7 for the West Midlands and 161.3 for England.

The whole of Staffordshire is currently on Medium Alert under the Government’s new Local Covid-19 Alert Levels, and we remain concerned about rising cases across the county, in particular in Stafford, South Staffordshire and Newcastle. We are working hard to try and bring rates down and we are calling on everyone to redouble their efforts and stick to the law and national guidance. Providers can find up to date information on local area infection rates on our Staffordshire COVID-19 data tracker. We will continue to keep you updated on any changes to the alert level or restrictions where you operate.

Care providers have been at the forefront of our efforts to tackle Covid-19 and I would like to thank you for your continued hard work and support.

1. New Local Covid-19 Alert Levels: On Monday 12 October, the Prime Minister outlined a new system of “Medium, “High” and “Very High” Alert Levels and associated restrictions to improve consistency across the country. Staffordshire (and all its individual districts) is currently at the lower medium alert level. Guidance is available at each alert level on travel and going to work, care home visiting and protecting people more at risk from Covid -19. A postcode checker is available online to help you find up to date information on the alert level being applied to your area. In particular, please note:

a. Travel:  Adult social care workers who live in other areas, including those rated as High Alert, such as Wolverhampton, can continue to come to work in Staffordshire.  Restrictions only apply to people meeting up indoors for social purposes.

b. Care home visiting: With our ‘Medium’ local Covid-19 Alert Level, providers should continue to be sighted on the National update on policies for visiting arrangements in care homes guidance and our local visiting guidelines, which continue to apply, in our ‘Visits to care homes’ section of our Information for care homes webpage. We will alert providers to any changes that may be applied, should any key changes in national guidance or our current alert level occur. Please be aware of visitors who may be subject to higher level restrictions who may wish to visit from other areas.

c. Protecting people more at risk from Covid-19: The new Alert Levels include advice for those who are clinically vulnerable and extremely clinically vulnerable. Please account for this when you risk assess your staff and individuals in your care. The Government will write to people in the Very High Alert Level areas, should they be advised to adopt formal shielding again.

2. Winter Plan 2020/2021: Please note:

a. We hosted an ‘Adult Social care Winter Plan: Action for Providers’ webinar on 13 October. This was aimed at all providers. Please go to our Winter Plan 2020/2021 webinar webpage to see the recording of the webinar and to access  the presentation slides content (and answers to questions raised in the session when these have been added).

b. I would encourage you to join the Skills for Care Contingency Planning: Protecting your service from COVID-19 winter demands webinar (focusing on protecting your service using service level risk assessments and aligning a Covid-19 specific contingency plan with your business continuity process) scheduled for Thursday 22 Oct 11:00-11:30 

c. Please also consider joining this additional Skills for Care Contingency planning: COVID-19 Maintaining safe staffing levels  webinar on Thursday 29 Oct 10:30 – 11:00.

3. Infection Control Fund: The Council will be confirming proposals for allocation of the Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund: round 2 funding to providers next week. We were hoping to communicate our proposals this week but are still awaiting further national information to inform our allocations.

4. PPE portal: PPE order limits on the portal have already been increased, will be increased further imminently and will continue to be reviewed to reflect the latest public health guidance and modelling as well as customer feedback to meet full Covid-19 PPE demand. For further information on this and some changes to PPE delivery timescales made this week, please visit the PPE portal: how to order COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE). Please note however, that the PPE portal is to meet PPE needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and not business as usual PPE supplies.

5. Testing for supported living / extra care settings: Following our submission of 7 October of all locations eligible for the one-off testing programme, DHSC has planned to start to roll out testing focussed on priority locations this week (from 12 October) and all locations during October. If you have any questions or wish to find out more, providers can join a regular DHSC webinar which will cover the process for ordering and returning kits, preparing for and carrying out testing. For details of next steps, eligible settings should also look out for emails from organisation.coronavirus.testing@notifications.service.gov.uk

6. Warning - Planned deletion of inactive NHSmail accounts: At the end of November, all inactive NHSmail accounts (those not used in 90 days or longer) will be removed. Care home and home care users with inactive accounts will be sent login prompts via text soon. An NHS approved secure email such as NHSmail is highly recommended for a number of reasons, including supporting businesses to securely communicate patient- or business-sensitive information with the NHS and the local authority and contractually for those in receipt of continuing healthcare funding. All care providers who are not using these accounts are advised to re-use them as soon as possible or consider applying for an account following guidance on our Enhancing care provider communications during the COVID-19 outbreak webpage.

7. Safety Innovation & Improvement Fund: Individuals and teams working in health and social care can apply for a new Patient safety and improvement fund. The West Midlands Health and Academic Science Network funding of up to £10,000 is available to support the spread or adoption of an innovation or improvement. Projects involving care homes or managing patient or service user deterioration in general are particularly encouraged.

8. Immigration health surcharge reimbursement scheme: This is now in operation following the Prime Minister’s pledge in May. It has been designed to non-European health and care staff pay to use the NHS. The scheme covers staff such as cleaners and care workers and their dependents who work in health and social care but are outside the scope for the Health and Care Visa. Those eligible can now apply online and access guidance on claiming the reimbursement

I would also like remind you of the following:

Managers Quality Network Forum: Please note that places are still available and you can register now to join us at the next Staffordshire Managers Quality Network Forum (Covid-19 theme) between 1-4 p.m. on Monday 19 October. 

Limited time left for antibody testing: Local antibody testing for adult social care staff will be available until Friday 23 October.  If you would like to book a test, please see our Antibody Testing page for details of the venues and how to book a test.  

Expiring shortly - Free iPAD offer to care homes: Please note that the NHSX free iPAD offer to care homes offer expires on Friday 23 October . Each device includes a 12-month support package and, for those without full access to WiFi, a data-enabled SIM card. The iPads will be ready to use straight out of the box and are intended to improve access to healthcare services for care home residents

Weekend testing: Please email COVID19testresults@staffordshire.gov.uk if you are a care home and you haven’t already done so, to let us know if you agree to carrying out testing at weekends.

Please continue to contact us on our ascincidentmanagement@staffordshire.gov.uk mailbox or telephone us on 0300 111 8050 if you have any concerns or queries.


Message to providers from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care:  9 October 2020 

1. Cases continue to rise across the whole county and have been increasing more sharply in both South Staffordshire and Newcastle-under-Lyme in particular over the last week. Making every effort to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff and those they care for across the adult social care sector and across the county is critical.

2. Infection prevention and control information, advice and guidance:  We have redesigned our website this week, so we now have separate COVID-19 Testing,  COVID-19 PPE and COVID-19 Infection prevention and control pages for you to refer to. We are also working to further develop our infection prevention and control webpage content, so please use the contact details at the end of this message if there are particular areas you would like us to include on there. For now, here are some additional key links to infection prevention and control of information that you may find on other webpages:

  • A range of general guidance applicable across adult social care, including guidance on infection prevention and control is available on the COVID-19 Social care guidance web page
  • We have updated our Current visiting restrictions webpage today as we lift restrictions on non-essential visits in specific areas of South Staffordshire. It is very important that all care homes continue to follow carefully and precisely the national visiting guidance, and the general Staffordshire visiting guidance on this webpage (also available on the COVID-19 Information for care homes page).

3.  As we go into winter, can I remind you of the importance of the Admission, isolation and testing of residents section in the ‘Admission and care of residents in a care home guidance’ referenced above, which covers isolation expectations for residents discharged from hospital or another care facility, which is not dependent on COVID-19 status.  In relation to discharge to home care, the Discharge of patient's own home section of the Guidance for stepdown of infection control precautions and discharging COVID-19 patients would similarly apply.

4. Adult Social Care Winter Plan – The government has recently published its Adult Social Care Winter Plan, including actions for care providers (as well as local authorities and the NHS). This webinar covers the actions for care providers, and how you can check your current position and readiness against these actions. All care provider types are invited to join our ‘National adult social care winter plan 2020/21 – Actions for providers’ webinar on Tuesday 13 October between 1-2 p.m. for. The link for the webinar is here

5. Infection Control Fund: The Council will be confirming proposals for allocation of the Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund: round 2 funding over the next week and will write to providers with more information and a revised grant agreement next week.

6. Antibody testing: Leek and Tamworth have been added this week to the list of venues available for testing. Please visit our Antibody Testing page for more information.

7. PPE: Recent increases in order limits and removal of order information on type II masks are in the most recent PPE portal: how to order COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) guidance. More information on recommended types of gloves to be worn is being reviewed in the COVID-19: how to work safely in domiciliary care in England and COVID-19: how to work safely in care homes guidance.

8. Healthwatch: It’s important that there is every opportunity for care home residents and their families to have their voice heard in describing their experiences during this challenging time. Healthwatch’s ability to carry out their normal ‘Enter and View’ visits has been impacted by Covid-19. However, if you have not already done so, please can you promote Healthwatch’s freephone number (0800 051 8371) within the home, to every resident, and also their family (in the case of residents with fluctuating mental capacity).

9. I would also like remind you of the following:

  • If you haven’t already done so, please make the most of the NHSX free iPAD offer to care homes to care homes (expires Friday 23 October).

Please continue to contact us on our ascincidentmanagement@staffordshire.gov.uk mailbox or telephone us on 0300 111 8050 if you have any concerns or queries.

Message to providers from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care:  2 October 2020 (updated 6 October 2020) 

This week, as we have seen cases of Covid-19 increasing rapidly across Staffordshire and the UK, I would like to draw your attention in particular to two key areas where our intelligence suggests that providers may require further clarity. These are:

1: Testing outcomes and re-testing guidance

See the section below for further guidance on the requirements for re-testing. For further information, please also refer to the Government guidance on contacts for what is meant by a ‘contact’ and also the Government’s Covid-19 getting tested guidance and the Government's graphic summarising testing for care homes.

Positive and no symptoms: re-test 90 days after positive test result, unless they develop new possible Covid-19 symptoms (See note below)

Positive and displaying symptoms: re-test 90 days after onset of symptoms,  unless they develop new possible Covid-19 symptoms (See note below)

Void or inconclusive and no symptoms (assuming no contact with Covid-19 infected individual has occurred): test again asap. No need to self-isolate whilst awaiting the test result, assuming no symptoms are evident over this time period.

Void or inconclusive and displaying symptoms: test again asap. Self-isolate and test again within 5 days of symptoms starting (or complete 10 days of isolation if not re-tested).

* Please note: this has been updated to reflect that the retest period has been extended from six weeks to 90 days as set out in Section 5 of the latest Government guidance Covid-19: management of staff and exposed patients or residents in health and social care settings.

2: Self isolation and infection control

Please ensure your staff and in the case of residential settings, your residents follow the Stay at home guidance around self isolation, noting in particular that self isolation of Covid-19 positive care home residents (symptomatic or not) is 14 days. In addition, please follow guidance on risk reduction dependent on the environment in which you are working:

I would also like to draw your attention to the following:

It was announced on 1 October that County Councils Network members will receive £285m or 52% of the available Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund: round 2 funding. The Council has been granted £8,273,798 in total (see Annex B of the guidance) and we will plan and communicate how this will be dispersed over the next fortnight.

Please register now to join us at the next Staffordshire Managers Quality Network Forum between 1-4 p.m. on Monday 19 October. The event is centred around Covid-19 and we have a range of speakers, including a representative from CQC, with updates and workshops available for you to listen to and participate in. Alongside this, we are running a “Live” Question & Answer Panel, including myself, and other senior colleagues from the Council, MPFT and Staffordshire and Stoke Clinical Commissioning Groups.

NHSX this week launched a free iPAD offer to care homes to help care homes provide care to residents by supporting video consultations with health and care professionals, supporting access to NHSmail, connecting care home residents with loved ones remotely and getting direct access to digital tools or systems to support resident care. Included also is a data enabled SIM card supporting wi-fi connectivity. A wider range of additional digital and technical guidance is also available and broadband connectivity offers.

DHSC may prioritise delivery of test kits to those who can conduct weekend testing. Whilst this will not be possible for a number of homes, we would be very grateful if you can agree to carrying out testing at weekends where you are able. If you have not done so already, please email COVID19testresults@staffordshire.gov.uk to confirm either way or for further information.

Antibody testing is still available for social care staff in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. This includes staff working in residential and nursing homes, supported living, extra care, home care, day opportunity services and personal assistants. Venues are available in Stoke and Stafford with an additional pop up venue soon to be announced in Tamworth and Leek. Please keep an eye on our Antibody Testing Webpages for further announcements.

From 24 September 2020 all venues in England and Wales which are visited by members of the public or have customer receptions need to legally clearly display a NHS QR code poster. Visit create a coronavirus NHS QR code to create a poster or the common questions link if you have questions about this or the Covid-19 app.

Please continue to contact us on our ascincidentmanagement@staffordshire.gov.uk mailbox or telephone us on 0300 111 8050 if you have any concerns or queries.

Message to providers from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care: 25 September 2020  

This is the first of a series of short weekly online briefings as we enter the winter months.  This is likely to be a challenging period and the intention is to help adult social care providers be as prepared as possible. 

The number of cases nationally is rising steadily. Over the last two weeks the national COVID-19 alert level has risen from three to four and we have seen a series of additional restrictions with the introduction of the ‘Rule of Six, as well as more stringent enforcement of existing measures.

The Government’s Adult Social Care Winter Plan was launched on 18 September 2020 and was supported by the Adult Social Care COVID-19 Support Taskforce report. Together, these outline the learning from the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and the actions care providers should be taking to curb the spread of coronavirus infections through the winter. Also included are national plans to ensure access to free PPE for all care providers up until 31 March 2021 and a promise of a further £546 million to help fund additional costs of infection prevention and control.  

Our local care home visiting guidelines have been updated in line with this and are available through our Information for care homes webpage. 

The areas of Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell and Wolverhampton are now under Government Intervention with further restrictions on social gatherings in people’s homes. Staff can travel into the affected area for work and staff from the affected area can travel into Staffordshire for work. 

We ran an infection control, testing and PPE update webinar for care homes on 18 September 2020. Please refer to our Information for care homes webpage for presentation slides and the webinar. Written answers to questions raised will follow once these are completed. 

Employers of adult social care staff have a responsibility for ensuring they are vaccinated against seasonal flu. Please see the Social care flu vaccination guidance for further details.

The PPE portal: how to order COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) guidance (last updated 21 September) outlines the arrangements for ordering supplies and has updated detail about the National Supply Disruption Response. See also our PPE webpage for advance notice of new changes applying to the local PPE distribution procedure from 28 September 2020.

Please refer to our updated webpages on Antibody testing and our new webpage dedicated to Care home testing for recent testing updates.

Thank you for your ongoing diligence in these extremely challenging times. Please continue to contact us on our ascincidentmanagement@staffordshire.gov.uk mailbox or telephone us on 0300 111 8050 if you have any concerns or queries.

 PPE alerts

Alcohol-based hand sanitiser and risk of vehicle fires – alert retraction 26 June 2020

NHS Property Services has retracted advice that hand sanitiser kept in vehicles can pose a fire risk following an evidence review.  Find out more on the National Fire Chiefs Council news page.

Updated alert 3 July 2020 Type IIR masks - Cardinal Health and Fluid Resistant Surgical Masks

See the document below for information about an updated alert relating to Cardinal Health Type IIR masks and a previous alert about Cardinal Health fluid resistant surgical masks:

Updated PPE alert  (296 KB) 3 July 2020

3 August 2020:  Message to providers from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care

RH update 3 August 2020 (223 KB) 

 20 - 26 July 2020

Death in service support

The government has published guidance (19 June 2020) on actions for local authorities and social care providers can take following the death of a person who worked in adult social care in England and a range of bereavement resources.

Contact by Test and Trace Service

We have an important message for care providers and their staff about contact from the Test and Trace Service on the Covid-19 testing and infection control page. 

New mental health and wellbeing resources

On our other help for providers page, you will find details of the Government’s risk reduction framework for social care employers (19 Jun 2020) and resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of individuals in receipt of adult social care services, including a dedicated app for the adult social care workforce

30 June - 6 July 2020

Tiger Eye Protector removal from the supply chain with effect from 10 May 2020

For the urgent attention of providers who have requested eye protection via our emergency PPE distribution system.

When we issued this to you it may have included sets of eye protection provided to us by the central PPE Supply Chain made by a company called Tiger Medical Products (see photograph in the document below and on the right hand side of this section).

We have now been advised that these are not suitable for use within COVID-19 settings and you should cease using them immediately. Below is the letter from DHSC outlining why they should no longer be used and what you need to do if you have been using them.   

We in particular draw your attention to the need to report any incidents of splashes or droplets to staff members using these products via RIDDOR. However, it should be noted that the bigger risk is for those staff who perform aerosol generating procedures, rather than usual care activities.

If you have stocks of this product please take the following actions: 

  • all Tiger Eye protective goggles and frames must be taken out of use immediately
  • secure them in a safe area where they will not be used until we will notify you of the action you can take regarding the return or disposal of this equipment once this has been clarified. Please confirm to us by email to ascincidentmanagement@staffordshire.gov.uk that you have done so.


8 - 29 June 2020

Message for providers from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care

RH market update 8 June 2020 (202 KB)

24 May - 7 June 2020

Message for providers from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care

RH market update 22 May 2020 (145 KB)

17 - 23 May 2020

Message for providers from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care 

RH market update 15 May 2020 (174 KB)

10 - 16 May 2020

Message for providers from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care 

RH market update 4 May 2020 (179 KB)

3 - 9 May 2020

Message for providers from Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care

RH Market update 24 April 2020 (151 KB)

4 - 11 April 2020

Care Quality Commission change their way of working

CQC have changed how they're working in response to Covid-19.  Details can be found on the  CQC Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information page.

30 March - 3 April 2020

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, sent a letter of thanks (54 KB) to the social care workforce for the work that it is doing.

24 - 29 March 2020

The letters below set out the emergency measures we are introducing to provide financial stability and support for providers of home care, care homes, extra care, supported living and building based day services for adults with a learning disability.

These are available to download and print out:

17 March 2020

A summary of key elements of our response is set out in a letter from the Director of Health and Care, Dr Richard Harling which is available to download and print out:

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