COVID-19 Update and our continued services
No-one could have predicted how quickly life changed at the beginning of March, so we really appreciate your patience where we have not been able to provide our usual level of service. Sadly, many restrictions are still ongoing but CHS staff have continued to work hard to make sure we can still provide almost all our services as usual.
- Our Head Office remains closed to visitors, but our staff continue to work remotely from home in accordance with government guidelines and are on hand if you need them
- During lockdown our Housing Services team checked in with tenants we knew might find things challenging to offer support
- We are continuing to run our emergency and non-emergency repair service; please contact the usual number 0300 111 3555 or report repairs using myCHS or Live Chat
- Gas Safety checks are now being carried out as normal and you will be contacted to arrange a date for this
- Repairs and servicing visits in communal areas will continue in the usual way to ensure safety and compliance
- Internal cleaning of communal areas, window cleaning and handy person visits will also continue in the normal way
- Gardening/Grounds Maintenance visits will continue in line with the agreed schedule. Our contractors have all been briefed on hygiene precautions
However, if you have a scheduled appointment for a repair and are self-isolating or do not want a contractor entering your property at this time, please contact them directly to cancel. If a contractor does attend your property, distance yourself and your family by at least two metres and ask them if they can wash their hands before and after the visit.
Business as usual at our other services
- Our Care Homes and Housing with Care schemes continue to remain open with staff providing, as always, high-quality care and support to all our residents and tenants in very difficult circumstances
- Our nurseries have remained open throughout the duration of the pandemic, offering child care to key workers during lockdown and since July staff have been welcoming all the children including some new ones back into the nurseries
- Staff in our Community Support Services continue to offer support to their residents throughout lockdown helping them to adjust to all the changes
- Our Money Advice team continued to offer their invaluable support during lockdown to tenants who needed it and are on hand to offer advice for as long as it is needed
- Our Digital Inclusion team helped to get people online so they can keep connected with friends, family and work colleagues.
- Our CLAS team distributed lots of vouchers to families who needed some extra support during lockdown and continue to help those when they need it
Lockdown and Fairies at Sunflower Nurseries
At the start of lockdown Sunflower Nursery in Cambourne decided to do something for the community and create some positivity and bring our community together during these unprecedented times. The children have been busy creating an enchanted forest of trees on the edge of the nursery, getting crafty making fairies and other decorations to sit in the trees alongside our caterpillar in which each child decorated a stone.
Staff members have also been adding motivational messages to the nursery’s positivity tree, which the Cambourne community has been invited to add their own contributions to as well. It’s been lovely to watch and listen to children and families talk about the fairies and read the positive quotes during this difficult time.
Older People’s Services
It has been a unique and surreal six months in the life of CHS’s Older People’s Services (OPS). The Covid 19 journey began for us on March 16th with the closure of our nine homes and schemes to visitors in all but exceptional circumstances.
At first it was difficult to get personal protective equipment (PPE) for our staff as our usual supplier quickly ran out of stock – we sourced new suppliers and have had a steady and reliable source since then.
The staff have been impacted in many ways; a handful have tested positive for the virus and had to isolate, one has been very poorly but now recovering. They have had a rollercoaster of emotions – frightened to come to work, scared they will infect their own families, sad to see residents becoming ill and in some cases suffering the loss of their own loved ones to the virus. Despite this they have shown true professionalism, boundless care and bravery.
Easter weekend was the peak of the outbreak in care homes when all residents were isolated in their rooms and have largely stayed there, except for daily exercising. Families can now meet with their loved one outside, but many are very cautious and happy that homes remain closed until July.
Support from families and friends of residents has really helped our staff cope and kept their morale up. CHS have not suffered as many deaths as other homes in Cambridgeshire. We had 4 deaths at Langdon House confirmed as Covid 19 with 5 more (unable to be tested) who were assumed to be affected, we had 4 deaths early on at Alex Wood and two in Extra Care (in March). There have been no further Covid related deaths in the last 3 months and so we feel confident that measures in place are working well and we are investigating to see if we can identify how the virus got into the homes so that we can learn from this.
All our care home residents and staff are tested regularly in line with the Government’s plan and of around 250 people only two residents have tested positive so this is very encouraging, and only a handful of our care home staff/family have tested positive and needed to isolate.
All of our sheltered schemes and Vera James House in Ely have remained free of the virus throughout. June brought a respite from Covid issues and staff were able to take some long awaited holiday and a well-earned rest before planning for reopening the homes in August.
Getting PPE is no longer as difficult but access to testing for some staff remains problematic and adds to our costs. Family visits have been carried out in CV19 secure conditions or outdoors, with the advent of 2nd wave of Covid 19 in September, the care homes returned to limited internal visiting unless for end-of-life visits. Each home has a designated area which is CV19 secure to allow some contact with families wearing PPE.
We have learnt a lot about how we can work effectively under these difficult circumstances, staff have appreciated each other’s skills and support and we have worked through it together. We have been especially grateful for the ongoing support of relatives, who have been so understanding while unable to see their loved ones.