Staff COVID-19 Frequently asked questions
Below are responses to some questions you, as staff, may have about COVID-19 and what you should do.
What is COVID-19
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus which was first identified in Wuhan City, China in January 2020.
The incubation period of COVID-19 is currently believed to be between 2 to 14 days. The incubation period is the time between someone being exposed to an infection and developing symptoms. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after return from a risk area or contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, they have almost certainly not been infected.
Please contact the Government’s wed site for the most recent information
Transmission of COVID-19 is most likely to happen when there is close contact (within 2 metres or less) with an infected person. It is likely that the risk of infection transmission increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person. Respiratory secretions, from the coughs and sneezes of an infected person, are most likely to be the main means of infection transmission.
There are two main ways COVID-19 can be spread:
- Directly; from close contact with an infected person (within 2 metres) where respiratory secretions can enter the eyes, mouth, nose or airways. This risk increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person who has symptoms.
- Indirectly; by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching own mouth, nose, or eyes.
The advice Bield is giving is in line with Health Protection Scotland and the NHS. This is advice is subject to change, but in the meantime we are doing all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections, including:
- Additional and frequent cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces (e.g. hand rails, door handles, light switches, table surfaces).
- Signage in each development to promote hand hygiene, ensuring that everyone has access to hand washing facilities and is encouraged to use these.
- As far as possible limiting the number of visitors to those providing care or to help a vulnerable person. In line with Government guidance this is only possible if carers are well and have no symptoms like a cough of high temperature and nobody in your household does, they are under 70, not pregnant and don’t have any long-term health conditions. Please refer to the Government guidance for the most recent advice and full information.
- Mobilising our volunteers to assist us to provide additional services to our tenants.
- THINK campaign
Think – do you really need to visit today?
Help us to keep our customers safe.
Is there another way you could communicate with your relative/friend?
Not everyone shows symptoms right away, can you be sure you are ok?
Keep us all safe and follow social distancing guidance.
Please contact the NHS web-site for the most recent information.
Communicating with our Customers
It is important that we communicate with our customers, to make them aware of the risks of COVID-19 to both other customers and visitors and that they should let staff know if they:
- Have been confirmed as having COVD-19
- Have symptoms of COVID-19
- Are self-isolating for any reason and if this has been advised or is precautionary
The NHS guidance is that if you've developed a cough or fever in the last 7 days you should stay at home for 7 days from the day your symptoms started. If you are unable to attend work you should let your line-manager know as soon as possible so suitable cover can be arranged. As per NHS guidance you should also contact your GP or NHS 24 if you have shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, if your condition becomes worse during the 7 days you are at home, or if your health has not improved after 7 days.
Please contact the NHS web-site for the most recent information.
The following may be small things that sound simple, but they are important:
- Live well, eat well and sleep well
- Get plenty of fresh air and try to exercise
- Stay connected with people, we will be offering daily team contact using one of our virtual platforms so that you can stay connected to your colleagues.
- Manage the news, stay informed but manage how much time you spend listening to the news, reading social media and be aware of how it is making you feel
- Relax: be aware of what helps you to cope with stressful situations and try to do more of it. Using apps such as ‘Breathe’, ‘Calm’ are also helpful if you can’t get out.
- Try to have fun even on difficult days finds things to laugh about and feel able to do this with colleagues.
Changes to your development
Yes. In line with the Governments guidance to reduce infection.
No as the Government advice is that you should not meet others, even friends or family, in a social capacity, as this will increase the likelihood of infection spreading.
Please contact the Government’s website for the most recent information.
From 23rd March 2020 we will be temporarily closing all of our guest rooms. This is to limit the number of new people coming into a development with the aim of limiting the potential spread of infection. The guest rooms may also be needed for emergency situations and so will need to be available. If customers have family or friends due to stay in one of our guest rooms on or after this date, please could you advise them of this situation.
Whilst we do not want our customers to become isolated, the Government’s advice remains that you should be self-isolating and limiting your visitors to those providing personal care or support inside your home and inside the development.
However, as Scotland begins to move out of lockdown, we are beginning to allow customers to access the outside garden space at our developments.
As each of our developments are very different, we are not able to provide definitive guidance about accessing outside space for each site here. However, In general, terms if the garden space at a development has been opened for use, then anyone using these areas should adhere to government guidance. This means that only a limited number of people should be in the gardens at any one time so that social distancing can be maintained and customers are only meeting with one other household at a time.
If a customer is displaying symptoms of Covid-19, they should continue to avoid leaving their flat and not access any communal space. Friends and family from outside the development visiting should also be free of Covid-19 symptoms and should not visit if they have symptoms.
When using gardens, please be considerate of others and stay for a limited time to allow others to use this space. Customers and visitors should only access the garden areas and should not congregate in other shared spaces in developments such as corridors. We will advise when other communal lounges and other shared spaces are able to be used again when lockdown measures are eased further.
We recognise that for many of our customer’s, health professionals and carers play a vital role. These staff will comply with infection control procedures as required. Bield will not restrict access to developments for these professionals, but requests that everyone visiting a development takes recommended hygiene actions to prevent the incidence or spread of infection and acts according to the Government guidance.
Please contact the Government’s wed site for the most recent information.
Only essential care should be provided and the minimum number of required staff should be present. Single use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be used and immediately after use be bagged and disposed of and take appropriate hygiene steps afterwards to prevent any onward contamination. Bield is developing a guidance document on the use of PPE and it will be posted on this wed-site. In the meantime if you need clarification then please contact your line manager.
This would be very difficult to do as the times which staff are on-site vary and so there will be significant periods of time when there is no onsite staff presence. Using other methods, such as requesting visitors to sign in and out would also increase the chance of contamination and infection. Therefore we will not try to keep a record of visitors to developments.
Ideally customers will be able to make their own arrangements to request help. If there are extenuating circumstances and tenants may be left in a vulnerable situation, please use your discretion in how you assist and contact your Housing Officer or Head of Service for guidance.
We will be working with other agencies to provide support for meal provision and we are mobilising our volunteer network to assist.
Due to the restrictions on social gatherings all our dining rooms are closed.
The laundry facilities will not be closed. However, to limit the potential for unnecessary contact you may be advised that laundry rotas are being put in place and these will need to be observed. It is important that where relevant, carers have priority use of the laundry in the morning as they may need to respond to more people than usual.
As our customers are self-isolating, meals should be provided to their own home. Where we have capacity, this service will be offered to vulnerable people where a meal service is provided. We recognise that there is not just one answer as to how suitable arrangements are made. Please contact your Housing Officer or Head of Service for guidance about what you should do.
Staff must wash hands between delivering food.
Contingency plans should be made in RHWM developments. Each development will be in a different position and so there will be discretion required by local staff about how to manage this. Please contact your Housing Officer or Head or Service to discuss the options and actions to take in detail.
Lifts should only be accessed by individuals from the same household, due to the small space available within these. They shouldn’t not enter the lift if there is another individual inside and should wait until this is free before entering. This may result in a longer wait, however, will enable a safe social distance to be maintained.
Repairs and Maintenance Works
Please let your Housing Officer and Head of Service know immediately. In confirmed cases of COVID-19, the Public Health local protection team will be in contact with Bield to discuss the case to find out who has been in contact with the individual and advise on actions which should be taken, including any quarantine arrangements which may be necessary and cleaning of communal areas which may need to be undertaken.
Please keep up to date with the NHS web-site for the most recent information.
Please let your Housing Officer and Head of Service know immediately. Government guidance at the moment states that there is no need to do anything while test results are pending. At present, most tests do come back negative and therefore no action needs to be taken while a case remains unconfirmed, although the current guidelines on prevention should obviously be followed.
Please keep up to date with the NHS web-site for the most recent information.
We are only responding to emergency repairs. These are works required to prevent danger to life or limb and/or serious damage to the property.
Following checks on tenants’ status, only emergency repairs will be carried out at present. The risk assessment protocol set out in the Grapevine briefings must be followed by Bield staff and contractors, weighing up the necessity of the repair against the risk of tenants/staff/contractors contracting the virus and/or breaching official advice in carrying it out. If you don’t have access to Grapevine then please check with your line manager of Head of Service.
The Scottish Government has confirmed that housing associations can suspend Right to Repair timescale requirements in circumstances which Bield, or our contractors, have no control over and which make it impossible to do the repair within the maximum time set out. Bield must advise customers if we are suspending Right to Repair timescales and mark COVID 19 on the start of the top line of the works order instruction.
You should continue with the current procedures that are already in place and report all repairs to the Repair Line during office hours and to your listed contractors, if you are working at developments out of office hours. Your usual contact number will be redirected if the Repair Line operative is working from home. It is likely that the call will go to an answer machine but leave a message and one of the Repair Line Team will get back to you. Please confirm all out of hours works instructions to the Repair Line team as usual, at the next opportunity, to ensure orders are issued and contractors get paid. It is important that you carefully consider the priority of each request so that we are able to respond to the highest of priorities, as quickly as possible, at peak times. We will discuss the priority rating with you when you call.
Urgent Repairs will be treated as the next highest priority. You should continue with the current procedures that are already in place and phone all repairs to the Repair Line during office hours. It is important that you carefully consider the priority of each request so that we are able to respond to the highest of priorities at peak times. It is important to manage expectations on when this work can be completed as we are only dealing with emergency repairs.
You should continue to Log all Non-Urgent Repairs via the Non-Urgent workflow. Although these are the lowest priority and it is very unlikely we will be able to complete works within the expected timescales during this outbreak, we do not want to lose sight of these, and they will be attended to when possible. It is important that you carefully consider the priority of each request as what could be considered non-urgent for some people, could be an emergency for others. We will take your advice on these situations.
Continue to log all void assessments and submit via the voids workflow as normal. During this period please can you make sure that the Property Officer and contractor is aware of the void circumstances before entering the flat as specialist cleaning may be required first if the tenant has been infected.
We will follow all advice provided by Public Health officials and will attend to emergency repairs as soon as possible. Contractors will be using protective clothing such as disposable coveralls, face masks and gloves. Tenants may be alarmed by this, however this will enable the repair to be carried out.
Guidance of the use of the protective equipment is being developed and will be added to this website.
We are following Government advice and there is a reduced requirement for testing during the COVID-19 restrictions. This is to reduce the number of visitors to the developments and help reduce the risk of infection.
Annual gas servicing visits to Bield properties are suspended for the next three weeks limited to emergencies only. This will be reviewed after that period has elapsed. The SFHA is in discussion with the Scottish Government/Scottish Housing Regulator with regards to the potential for suspending the requirement for annual gas safety checks.
If Bield is unable to carry out a check/repair, we must record this in CTX or Keystone and that this is related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Where an annual safety check is delayed because of either your or the tenant’s view of the risk, it may be helpful to review the information held on:
- The access history from previous safety inspections
- The age and type of appliance
- Known maintenance issues with that sort of appliance
- The repair history of the appliance
- Construction or technical issues that may be relevant
- Any issues around risk or vulnerability that may exist in the household
The Association of Gas Engineers are currently in talks with the HSE regarding the possibility of extending the 12 month period for gas servicing.
The normal Inspections carried out be the Development Managers such as flushing toilets in void flats should be carried out as normal.
Responsive Repairs to essential safety systems should carefully considered and where necessary, be prioritised as an emergency.
Yes, where possible. This is dependent on the contractor and where they are able to resource the service, these types of external works will continue as there is limited contact with staff or customers necessary. These works are not considered high priority during this outbreak unless they are re-prioritised as emergency or urgent works. For example, where lack of grounds maintenance is causing a serious trip hazard.
All works have been suspended.
All planned works have been suspended.
All meter reading visits have been suspended by Utility companies however they will be able to use estimated readings to prepare bills. Please continue to take meter readings for void properties when they arise.
The On Call Property Service will continue as normal and Heads of Service will also be available for support.
Bield’s Financial Position
We wanted to reassure you that Bield is in a good financial position to weather the storm.
This is what we have done;
- Bield is financially strong and has enough cash reserves and access to borrowings, should they be needed, to continue our ongoing operations.
- Bield has substantially completed the business transformation process. It was designed to make sure, that as a company, we were correctly structured and resourced to provide the best possible service for our tenants.
- Bield has implemented a strong and well planned response to the pandemic and a steering team meets daily to ensure that we are continually monitoring and reacting to the changing situation.
- Decisions have been taken to postpone all discretionary spend and delay capital expenditure in the short term to prioritise the resources and manage cash flows.
- In addition to our operational activities we have adapted to home working and continue to keep critical financial operations running, such as paying suppliers and staff.
This is what the sector and Scottish Government has done;
- The Scottish Government has recognised the housing and care sectors as a core service. They have prioritised their support for the sector and are committed to making sure that we continue to receive all the financial support that we need, to ensure that we can keep providing the vital services that we offer to our customers.
- The Scottish Government has introduced a number of new funds to address the Corvid-19 problems. These have been set up to help all businesses giving them access to grants and loans. We can access these should we need too.
What does this mean for you personally?
- We will continue to pay salaries as normal.
- Normal business expenses will continue to be paid.
- We will be working hard to make sure that staff have all the necessary equipment that they need to carry out their jobs.
COVID -19 Health and Safety Staff briefing
Sourcing adequate stocks of personal protective equipment for frontline care and housing staff is one of Bield’s top priorities. We have been engaging with existing and new suppliers, and have had donations from some contractors, to obtain supplies of nitrile gloves, coveralls, goggles and facemasks. We are participating in a PPE Social Care Triage system operated by the NHS and deliveries are now going out to developments. A PPE supplies email in box is being setup for staff to use where they cannot obtain PPE supplies through their normal stockists. Guidance on the use of PPE is being developed and information will be posted on this website.
All staff should observe the contact boundaries advised by the NHS and set out in the procedures Bield have published on Grapevine. Procedures in relation to awareness of risk from customers and processes for attending to emergency situations are also set out in the Grapevine briefings. If you do not have access to Grapevine contact your line manager or Head of Service for more information.
This should be considered for tenants who have either been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who have had symptoms. This would be expected to be carried out only at the end of the recommended isolation period if the tenant is hospitalised or leaves the property for any other reason during their illness.
Disinfectant cleaning of communal areas and kitchens will also be required. A list of contractors who can be contacted to carry out specialist cleans, where on site staff do not have capacity, has been collated by Bield and is available in the Contractor’s Book.