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Blackpool Council in the UK shares their experience on the measures they have put in place so far to support their most vulnerable residents, their social care providers and workforce in light of the coronavirus spread.

Measures put in place by the Council to protect the most vulnerable residents

The county council has set up a strategic group looking at the developing situation in the area, led by the Police with a list of strategic partners.

The strategic group has daily coordination meetings both internally and with other partners, particularly providers of care (both domiciliary and residential/nursing) and National Health Service colleagues.

Social work staff have been dispersed to work from home settings, to enable new assessments and reviews and any safeguarding work to continue, whilst assisting in social distancing.

The Council has a central hub staffed by mainly managers with a small number of operational staff. This is providing an Authority wide overview of how provision is being affected by staff absences and coordinating responses to this, e.g. staff available from day centre closures being brought in to provide some level of personal care to people affected by this in their own home or to deliver meals, do the shopping for vulnerable residents.

Risk rating in respect of people living at home in receipt of home care services is on-going to prioritise those most in need as service availability reduces.

Staff availability for residential and nursing home settings from areas where provision has been reduced is being considered as a potential staff resource to maintain provision. This has not yet been necessary, but it is predicted as numbers infected or those who are symptomatic increase.    

The Council is assisting with the distribution of personal protective equipment to providers of care. 

The Council is setting up both an email address and a telephone help line for people to both volunteer their services in the coming days and weeks, and for people to call if they are having any difficulties, and they do not know where to go to.
The crisis is affecting social services

Workforce has been reduced by a combination of reasons, the main ones being as follows: those within high risk groups being unable to undertake some of their normal daily tasks due to official guidance to self-isolate; some staff or their family group members being symptomatic and having to self-isolate; school closures and child care responsibilities.

Annual leave cancellation and extended working hours is being considered, although no mandatory measures yet in place.

The uptake of new work has reduced as Providers struggle to maintain existing service delivery.

The Council has not seen yet a significant demand increase, suggesting perhaps that local community, faith and family arrangements are meeting some previously unmet need. It is yet too early to say whether there will be increased community cohesion and mutual assistance or whether the self-interest exemplified in panic buying will be the dominant outcome. Probably some combination of both but it is hoped the former becomes dominant.

The focus at the moment is on the Council’s ability to manage existing need/provision, although this will of course impact on how service delivery priorities change in responding to the most vulnerable, and the consequent reduction of service delivery to the less vulnerable.