FAQs on coronavirus
This page has been most recently updated on 15 April 2020.
During the coronavirus pandemic, we want to reassure all of our customers and their loved ones that we are doing everything we can to continue to provide the high-quality care that we are renowned for. We appreciate that you many have some questions about particular circumstances related to your care and your carer, so with that in mind, we have collated some frequently asked questions that should help to put your mind at ease.
We must add to this that everyone’s situation is completely individual to them, so if there’s a question you have that hasn’t been answered here, please speak to your care manager who will be able to provide further assistance.View our Coronavirus Policy 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 is possible during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and to do so, we are introducing some company-wide protocols and procedures. These will be updated frequently as the pandemic spreads.
You can find the Helping Hands Coronavirus Policy here: www.helpinghandshomecare.co.uk/coronavirus-information/
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 and not the main call centre. Please rest assured that we will not stop your care and will work with you to keep your care in place as much as we can.
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 your loved one does not need hospital treatment, we will of course continue to look after them in their own home. They will be much safer there than in a nursing home or hospital since it will be much easier to limit the risk of cross infection.
What if my carer(s) has coronavirus?
We are following all the latest NHS and Government advice, including asking anyone who has a consistent temperature of over 38°C or a constant cough to self-isolate for seven days, and paying them Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) during that period. 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:
- Carer notifies their manager that they are unwell and unable to go into work.
- 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 for seven days.
If you have a live-in carer, your care manager will arrange for another live-in carer to replace your regular carer as soon as possible.
What if we have an overseas carer who cannot travel because of coronavirus?
If your regular carer is unable to travel, we will look to replace them with a carer who is in the country already. Carers coming in from anywhere outside the UK or Ireland are being asked to self- isolate for seven days before starting or returning to a placement. We will pay for their accommodation costs and pay them half their salary (which is significantly more than SSP).
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 NHS 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.
What should I do if I’m sent emails about coronavirus products?
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 – there is no specific treatment available for COVID-19.
- 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.
For more information on different types of scams and how to protect yourselves, visit www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk
Customer FAQS - unrelated to coronavirus
Do your carers come with their own cars?
Our live-in carers may have their own cars but we will not be able to provide or source for a carer based on them being a car owner. All of our carers are based on their skill set and experience to care for your loved one. All of our visiting carers are required to have their own vehicles so that they can attend their care calls.
Are your carers liable for any accidental / intentional damage in the home?
If a carer breaks something accidentally whilst on placement, we would expect this damage to be covered by the householder’s insurance. In the extremely unlikely event of deliberate damage, the cost would be covered by Helping Hands’ insurance.
Do you employ registered nurses to care for our loved ones?
We employ Regional Clinical Leads, who are also registered nurses, to help advise, support and train our team of over 4,000 carers, but we do not employ nurses to directly deliver care.
Can Helping Hands help with housework?
Yes, or indeed any other help such as shopping or companionship.
Can we meet the carer before they start with my loved one?
For live-in care, we will offer telephone and Skype calls before your carer starts with you. Our carers are not sourced on their location, so it may not be an option for you to meet the carer before care starts. However, if we are able to accommodate this request we will.
Do you charge mileage if the carer takes my loved one out?
If the carer uses their own car yes. If they are driving your car, then no – but you must provide insurance to cover them.
Why do you charge a travel fee of £3.50 per visit?
To help cover some of the costs incurred by the carer in getting to your house.
Can your carers look after pets?
Certainly, so long as we know what pets you have in advance so we can ensure the carer has no problems, such as allergies etc.
Staff FAQs - General
As well as reassuring our customers and their loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic, our carers 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 out 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.
What do we do if someone has been in the branch that has suspected coronavirus?
Research shows it can remain on surfaces for nine days 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 wearing correct PPE during cleaning.
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 Compliance Department who will then support in following Caldicott Guidance on a case-by-case basis.
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, please continue to do so, ensuring that you follow the COVID-19 company policy and Government guidelines around cleanliness and contact.
What are Helping Hands plans to communicate with our customers?
The Marketing Department are actively communicating with our customers, and the CEO and Group MD have further communication plans. There is also local communication in place across the regions.
Where do I get personal protective equipment (PPE) from?
Procurement are 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.
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.
Staff 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 from day one, and the Helping Hands Sickness Policy remains in place.
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 email@example.com
How do I apply for the Hardship Loan Fund?
There is a Hardship Loan fund available for all staff who experience financial difficulty or within in their household. To apply, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
If you wish to change your holiday requests during the next three months, please let us know. We would still encourage you take some leave and benefit from some down time, as we don’t know how long the lockdown will last.
As we have only just started a new holiday year on 1st April, if you are unable to take all your leave this calendar year, a maximum of five days 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.
Staff 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. The options available are:
- 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.
- If they meet the eligibility criteria, they could apply for a Helping Hands Employee Loan.
- We are working with airlines to see if they will schedule emergency flights to get carers back to the UK when they have been allocated work. We will provide more updates on this when we can.
What happens if another provider is covering the two-hour breaks each day?
Ensure that the correct handover 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 new cough or 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.