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Frequently asked questions about coronavirus

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FAQs on coronavirus

This page was most recently updated on 11th January 2021.

As we enter a second lockdown across England, we want to reassure all of our customers, their loved ones and our employees that we are doing everything we can to continue to provide the high-quality care that we are renowned for, whilst ensuring that we all remain as safe as is possible during the ongoing pandemic.

We continue to work closely with Health Authorities, the UKHCA and Care Regulators in England and Wales in order to protect employees and our customers whilst maintaining service delivery.

We appreciate that you may have some questions relating to your care or your carer and hope that the following frequently asked questions will help to put your mind at ease.

As everyone’s situation is individual to them, we may not have answered all of your questions here.  Please speak with your care manager if further assistance or clarification is required.

Contacting us during lockdown

In line with government guidelines, most of our office teams will be working fully or partially from home throughout lockdown. We continue to have arrangements in place to ensure you can still contact each of our teams, with call diverts in place as needed and email contact being maintained.

 

View our coronavirus guidance Views our Ways of Working Policy

Customer FAQs - General

What extra precautions are Helping Hands taking?

At Helping Hands, we want to ensure that all our employees and customers remain as safe as possible during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and to do so, we have introduced some company-wide protocols and procedures. These will be updated frequently as the pandemic continues.

This virus is very contagious, so it’s important that we all follow our coronavirus guidelines and NHS guidelines in order to protect ourselves and our customers.

 

Will Helping Hands still provide care for me or a loved one if I’m/they’re self-isolating or have coronavirus?

If you are a Helping Hands customer and suspect that you have coronavirus, you must contact your local care manager as soon as possible. Please rest assured that we will not stop your care and will work with you to keep your care in place whilst protecting our carers.

We will assess each situation on a case-by-case basis but ultimately, we will aim to keep a continuation of care for any customer self-isolating or with a confirmed case of coronavirus.

If a loved one does not need hospital treatment, we will of course continue to look after them in their own home.

 

What if my carer(s) has coronavirus?

We are following all the latest NHS and Government advice, including requiring anyone to self-isolate if they test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), are displaying symptoms of coronavirus or have been told to stay at home by NHS Test and Trace. Carers who are self-isolating or have coronavirus will be replaced by another carer on a temporary basis. This is the same procedure that would be followed if a carer was unwell, which is:

  1. Carer notifies their manager that they are unwell and unable to go into work.
  2. They will be told not to return to work until they are better. If they have been advised to self-isolate, they will be off work in line with Government guidance..

If you have a live-in carer and both the customer and carer show symptoms of coronavirus, they can self-isolate together if the customer is comfortable with this situation.  Alternatively,  your care manager will arrange for another live-in carer to replace your regular carer as soon as possible.

 

What if we have a regular overseas carer who cannot travel because of coronavirus?

If your regular carer is unable to travel, we will look to replace them with an alternative suitable carer.

 

I’m considering arranging care with Helping Hands – do I need to worry about coronavirus?

Helping Hands are following advice from the Government, NHS and Care Quality Commission (CQC), and have put extra precautions in place to protect both our customers and carers for this period of coronavirus outbreak (as detailed above). It’s still business as usual, and there are no differences to the high-quality care we provide or arranging packages of care for new customers. If the advice from the Government changes, we will update our position as necessary.

 

Should I consider moving or moving my loved one to a care home?

We believe that it is much easier to limit infection risk if someone stays in their own home, rather than moving to an environment where many other high-risk people are in close proximity to each other. There are actually some benefits to receiving home care, such as having the consistency of the same carers, one-to-one care and being in your familiar home environment.

 

I am worried about my relative’s mental wellbeing during lockdown – how can you help?

We understand how difficult it is for everyone not being able to see their family and loved ones in the way they are used to, and our carers will help by responding positively if a customer shows signs of anxiety or concern.

Digital technology is helping our carers with ways to keep their customers entertained and enjoying life, with online games, music streaming, looking at family photos and internet shopping. Through apps like FaceTime and Skype, our carers can help customers to maintain connections remotely with their families and loved ones. Our carers are very aware of how this coronavirus crisis is impacting those they care for and are dedicated to helping our customers to live well and enjoy life.

 

What should I do if I’m sent emails or receive calls about coronavirus products?

Some criminals are using coronavirus to trick people into sharing personal or financial information through emails and calls. We are doing everything possible to keep our customers safe during the coronavirus outbreak, but here are a few things to be aware of:

  • Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.
  • There are lots of fake products online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus, but these are not real.
  • Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – any treatment must be approved by your GP.
  • Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to say no.
  • If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID.
  • Be aware of potential scams relating to NHS Test and Trace –  this article gives details on how the Test and Trace process works.

For more information on different types of scams and how to protect yourselves, visit www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk

 

Are Helping Hands using the NHS Test and Trace app?

Yes – we are encouraging all of our carers and staff to use the NHS Test and Trace system via their mobile phones whenever they enter a company office or branch. Those who don’t have smartphones must sign in and leave contact details so that we are able to get in touch with them if necessary. Find out more below.

NHS Test and Trace info

Employee FAQs - Coronavirus

As well as reassuring our customers and their loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic, our employees are just as important to us, and we want to reassure all of you that we’re doing our utmost to keep you safe.

We’ve collated some of the most commonly asked questions that should put your mind at ease, whatever your current situation is. If there is anything you’re unsure of or are unable to find the answer to here, please contact your line manager in the first instance.

 

If someone with suspected COVID-19 has been in contact with customers and carers, what do we do?

The person with suspected COVID-19 needs to be tested and confirmed as a carrier of COVID-19. Their manager then needs to report to the  Regional Senior Team who will then support in following Caldicott Guidance on a case-by-case basis.

 

What do we do if someone has been in the branch that has suspected coronavirus?

Research shows the coronavirus can remain on surfaces for up to 72 hours without cleaning; therefore the recommendation is to clean every horizontal surface using personal protective equipment (PPE) with a suitable cleaning product – clean, warm water and clean cloths – disposing of all consumables post-clean. Focus on areas such as handles, phones and ensuring you wear correct PPE during cleaning.

 

What are Helping Hands plans to communicate with our customers?

We are actively communicating with our customers on a regular basis to keep them informed on our plans and progress, with additional contact being made by the CEO and Group MD as required. There is also local communication in place across the regions.

 

How can I help my customer to stay in contact with their family?

Carers can help a customer to use their phone if they want to FaceTime or Skype (or use a similar video phone app) with a family member.

 

Where do I get personal protective equipment (PPE) from?

Procurement are continually working with suppliers and we have secured supplies which are being sent out to branches. There will be some reserve stocks held at Support Office in the eventuality that deliveries are delayed to branch. If you are running short, you must contact your manager immediately.

 

How do I obtain proof and clarification that I am a critical key worker?

A standard letter is now available and should have either been emailed to you or sent in the post. If you have not received this, please contact your manager.

 

I don’t have a Helping Hands ID card – how do we get some form of authorisation to go and make purchases on behalf of our customers in the dedicated shopping hours?

A letter from the organisation has been issued to carers to show to the supermarkets. You should receive this via email or post. If you have not received this, please contact your manager.

 

Will the VPN support working from home?

When working from home, unless you need to use Cold Harbour or Helping Hands platforms, it is recommended that you do not link into the VPN to prevent system overload. However, if you do need to access the Helping Hands platform, the VPN is robust enough to support.

 

What is the plan for new business meetings during the epidemic?

Following NHS guidelines and GP best practice, new business meetings should move to Skype/FaceTime/telephone meetings to avoid unnecessary face-to-face contact. However, if you feel it is necessary to conduct a face-to-face meeting and the customer is in agreement, please continue to do so, ensuring that you follow the COVID-19 company guidelines and PPE guidance together with the Government guidelines around cleanliness and contact.

 

If friends or family are looking for work and want to become a carer, what information can we give them about the training we provide?

We want to give assurances that we will take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of all concerned during training.

  • Training will be completed online where possible.
  • Any face-to-face training needed will be completed through shadowing with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) being provided, and following social distancing and hygiene protocols
  • Managers will sign off competency before a carer is allowed to start work. We will be prioritising applications from those people with prior care experience.

 

Do you have anything we can share on our personal social media accounts for anyone we may know who is currently at risk of losing their jobs for us to promote Helping Hands as a care worker?

You can use any posts on the national Helping Hands social media pages and share them via your personal account. Use the following accounts:

Facebook – @liveincare @homecarejobs

Twitter – @Helping_HandsUK

Instagram – @helpinghandshomecare

LinkedIn – Helping Hands Homecare

 

How do I obtain proof and clarification that I am a key worker for leaving my child in school?

A standard letter is now available and should have either been emailed to you or sent in the post. If you have not received this, please contact your manager.

 

I don’t have a Helping Hands ID card – how do we get some form of authorisation to go and make purchases on behalf of our customers in the dedicated shopping hours?

A letter from the organisation has been issued to carers to show to the supermarkets. You should receive this via email or post. If you have not received this, please contact your manager.

 

If friends or family are looking for work and want to become a carer, what information can we give them about the training we provide?

We want to give assurances that we will take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of all concerned during training.

  • Training will be completed online where possible.
  • Any face-to-face training needed will be completed through shadowing with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) being provided.
  • Managers will sign off competency before a carer is allowed to start work. We will be prioritising applications from those people with prior care experience.

 

Can I use my phone to correspond between a customer and their family?

Carers can allow a customer to use their phone if they want to FaceTime or Skype (or use a similar video phone app) a family member.

 

Data Protection and employee data during coronavirus 

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there may be a need to share information quickly or adapt the way we process your personal data in the interest of public health.

In addition to the reasons we collect and use your personal information as outlined in Helping Hands Privacy information policy, we may share information with government agencies and/or a legitimate public health authority such as the NHS or as part of a national COVID test and trace or vaccination program.

In accordance with GDPR, personal data will be shared in a safe and secure way; limited to only what is necessary and appropriate.


Employee FAQs - Live-in carers

What happens to live-in carers who are unable to return to the UK for scheduled placements and therefore aren’t being paid?

We can confirm that these employees will not be losing their jobs because of coronavirus. As these employees have been paying tax and national insurance whilst working in the UK, they may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are in self-isolation.

 

What happens if another provider is covering the two-hour breaks each day?

Ensure that the correct handover (PPE/ social distance/hygiene) is given aligned to the customer’s support plan but you will also need to contact your manager to discuss further.

 

Can we still go shopping for our customers?

Yes – as long as you are fit and well and not showing any of the symptoms – a persistent new cough or high temperature. All carers have been provided with a letter to show at supermarkets to confirm that you are essential key workers and are shopping for a vulnerable person. You should receive this via email or post. If you have not received this, please contact your manager.


Employee FAQs - Finances

Do I get paid if I am sick?

In line with the new Government guidelines, if you are eligible, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be paid.

 

Can I claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) through the company?

The SSP qualification criteria is as follows: –

  • Average pay more than £118 per week during the last eight weeks
  • Have done “some work under their contract”

For further queries, please contact payroll@helpinghands.co.uk

 

My holiday has been cancelled – can I cancel my booked leave and what if I can’t take all of my accrued leave by the end of the holiday year (31 March 2021)?

As we continue working in the national effort against coronavirus, you will not lose your holiday entitlement if you do not take it before 31st March 2021.

We would still encourage you take some leave and benefit from some down time, but if you wish to change your holiday requests, please let us know.

A maximum of five days holiday entitlement can be carried over into the next years’ entitlement (21/22). This not only ensures you won’t lose your leave, but also gives flexibility to the business at a time when it is most needed.

As previously, any future holiday requests will be reviewed and approved in line with the needs of the business.


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