What's New Bulletin 73 - 23 December 2021

This is the seventy third weekly provider bulletin, containing information on guidance, procedures and new initiatives. Very urgent or high priority communications may still be issued on an ad hoc basis, but we will try to keep these to a minimum.

COVID RELATED INFORMATION

  1. Thank you letter and reminder of the importance of booster jabs from the Corporate Director of Adult Social Care, Birmingham City Council and Department of Health and Social Care priority booster letter for social care staff evidence of employment (information for all providers)
  2. Workforce Recruitment and Retention Fund round 2 (information for all Birmingham providers)
  3. UPDATED GUIDANCE Government Guidance: COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients and residents in health and social care settings (information for all providers)
  4. REMINDER Government guidance: Visiting Arrangements in Care Homes Care Home and a message from the Care Quality Commission regarding visits over the festive period (information for all care homes)
  5. Updating the Capacity Tracker over the festive period – daily updates still needed (information for all providers)
  6. UPDATED GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to your employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19) (information for all providers)

IN OTHER NEWS

  1. Message for Birmingham contracted Home Support Providers: bulk package take up options (information for all Birmingham contracted home support providers)
  2. Critical cyber security alert (information for all providers)
  3. Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) Made with Care recruitment campaign (information for all providers)
  4. Infection Prevention and Control Champions Network launched (information for all providers)
  5. Update on the Care Quality Commissions (CQC) regulatory approach (information for all providers)
  6. Care Home BSol Deterioration Service Guide (information for Birmingham and Solihull Care Homes)

COVID related information

1. Thank you letter and reminder of the importance of booster jabs from the Corporate Director of Adult Social Care, Birmingham City Council & Department of Health and Social Care priority booster letter for social care staff evidence of employment (information for all providers)

A letter to local social care workforce from Professor Graeme Betts, Corporate Director of Adult Social Care, Birmingham City Council, has been circulated to providers. If you don't have a copy, please email marketintelligence@birmingham.gov.uk . In addition to thanking employees for their work to support the health and social care system, it emphasises the importance of and encourages everyone to take up their COVID vaccinations.

Social Care workers and family carers (family members & friends who care for someone with a disability or long-term health problem) can request priority access to COVID-19 booster vaccinations, following NHS England operational guidance issued to all vaccination centres on the 14 December regarding the delivery of boosters. In order to get priority access at a vaccination centre, sites will likely ask to see a workplace photo ID, or a recent letter or payslip from their employer as proof of their employment.

For some social care workers and unpaid carers having an ID is not possible, and they therefore may feel discouraged from requesting this priority service. We have circulated to providers a letter from Dept Health and Social Care which provides an alternative for social care workers and carers without identification documents, to help them access the priority booster vaccination programme. If you don't have a copy of this letter, please email marketintelligence@birmingham.gov.uk

Information on vaccination walk in centres can be found below:

Walk-ins – Birmingham & Solihull NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Service

Vaccinations can be booked online below (staff can book 2 months after their 2nd dose for an appointment to receive their booster vaccination once 3 months has passed);

Book or manage a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination - NHS

Two Q&A leaflets have been issued, focusing on COVID-19 booster and flu vaccinations this winter. You can download all care staff winter vaccine materials below, including posters, social media graphics and stickers. A new winter vaccines communications toolkit is also available, featuring case studies, expert blogs and a range of materials to promote flu and COVID-19 boosters.

2. Workforce Recruitment and Retention Fund round 2 (information for all Birmingham providers)

Further the government announcement of the Workforce Recruitment and Retention Fund round 2 on 10 December and the published guidance last week we are working as quickly as possible to be in a position to distribute funding in January. Further updates will be provided through this bulletin. For more information about the grant please use the link below to the government website.

Please note the any grant money paid to care providers is conditional upon a commitment to weekly updating of the Capacity Tracker. Therefore if you are not updating the Capacity Tracker every 7 days the Council will not allocate funding.

Workforce Recruitment and Retention Fund for Adult Social Care, Round 2

3. UPDATED GUIDANCE Government Guidance: COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients and residents in health and social care settings (information for all providers)

This guidance covers the management of staff, patients and residents who have been exposed to COVID-19. It has been updated to reflect the changes to self-isolation periods for staff in care settings. Please note this guidance is different to that of the general population and should be read in full. The full government guidance can be found below:

COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients and residents in health and social care settings - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

4. REMINDER Government guidance: Visiting Arrangements in Care Homes Care Home and a message from the Care Quality Commission regarding visits over the festive period (information for all care homes)

The government guidance sets out how care homes can support families and visitors to visit residents. Following on from the Department of Health and Social Care letter to care providers dated 10 December (attached for reference), this guidance has been updated to add new restrictions on care home visiting due to the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. This includes reducing the number of visitors each care home resident can receive to 3 (not including essential care givers or preschool age children), requiring testing or self-isolation following visits out of the care home, and changing testing arrangements for staff and essential caregivers. The full guidance can be found below:

Visiting arrangements in care homes

The CQC have issued a statement highlighting the importance of visits to people living in care homes over the Christmas and New Year's period. They outline the ways in which visits can be carried out in a way that mitigates the risks of COVID-19 infection, as well the role visits can play in helping alleviate the potential isolation experienced by people living in care homes. The full statement can be found below:

Statement on supporting visiting over the festive season | Care Quality Commission (cqc.org.uk)

5. Updating the Capacity Tracker over the festive period – daily updates still needed (information for all providers)

On behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Capacity Tracker team, we would like to thank you and all of your staff, once again, for your ongoing support during what has undoubtedly been another very challenging year. Unfortunately, due to the Omicron variant and the national focus on booster/vaccinations and supporting the hospital discharge process, we need to maintain the data collections over the Christmas period to support our continued reporting and monitoring of this latest phase in the pandemic. We want to assure you that all the information you upload into the Capacity Tracker is important and reviewed and reported every day by DHSC and NHS colleagues together with ministers and a number of agencies including UK Health Security Agency, the CQC plus others. Ensuring your data is up-to-date means we can all provide a complete national picture which helps target support and inform policy decisions across social care and the NHS. Please also ensure your open or closed status is up to date an correct.

If you have questions or queries regarding how to update the data and where to report specific scenarios, please contact Capacitytracker-guidance@dhsc.gov.uk

If you are experiencing technical issues with Capacity Tracker, please contact necsu.capacitytracker@nhs.net or the Capacity Tracker Support Centre on 0191-691-3729.

6. UPDATED GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to your employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19) (information for all providers)

This guidance covers how to use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to claim back employees’ coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This scheme will be reintroduced from mid-January 2022. Further guidance will be available as soon as possible.

The full guidance can be found below:

Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to your employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

IN OTHER NEWS………….

7. Message for Birmingham contracted Home Support Providers: bulk package take up options (information for all Birmingham contracted home support providers)

In order to support our hospital discharges and citizens requiring long term care after a period of enablement support we are facilitating the take up of groups of care packages that are currently out to the market through the CareMatch Portal within your designated areas.

A list showing the packages that are available in groups, either all of those in an area or a smaller batch, has been circulated to providers. If you don't have a copy, please email marketintelligence@birmingham.gov.uk These are open to all home support providers on our general Home Support 2019 contract (unless currently suspended or being decommissioned). If you are interested in picking up a group of care packages in your area and wish to discuss this further, including how call flexibility can support with this, then please urgently contact your Area Commissioners to discuss further. You can find details of your area commissioners below;

Who to contact in the commissioning team

8. Critical cyber security alert (information for all providers)

A vulnerability has been found within Apache Foundation Log4j2 (‘Log4j2’) that could enable attackers to access IT systems from where they could deploy cyber attacks such as ransomware. Care providers should notify their IT teams or person responsible for IT, and ensure actions are taken. The primary action is for IT leads to work with their digital/IT suppliers and follow their advice about mitigating cyber vulnerabilities.

Further details are available in this NHSX briefing on Digital Social Care

9. Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) Made with Care recruitment campaign (information for all providers)

The Department of Health and Social Care have launched a campaign to help social care providers fill the vacancies at their services. In January there will be a burst of television advertising to inspire the public to apply to roles in care. The campaign will work most effectively if people who have been inspired by the advertising are able to find suitable vacancies in their area.

To make the most of this have a look at the resources that have been produced, below. It includes support to help you write a job advert to appear on the Department of Work and Pensions' website as well as resources to help you advertise your vacancy via social media and posters.

Recruiting social care staff

10. Infection Prevention and Control Champions Network launched (information for all providers)

In November the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in partnership with The Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) launched the infection, prevention and control (IPC) champions network. The IPC Champions Network will help maintain and continuously improve standards across the care sector.

Infection, prevention and control (IPC) champions network

As part of the network, the QNI will host regular virtual events which focus on a variety of IPC topics, and which will also feature guest speakers. The network will also produce a regular newsletter and host a QNI-moderated Facebook page that will enable frontline staff to share experiences within IPC implementation and tips on best practice. These activities will ensure that good focus is kept on IPC as we head into the winter months and beyond, and empower frontline staff to take responsibility for implementation of infection prevention and control measures.   

Sign up to receive the IPC Champions Network Newsletter

11. Update on the Care Quality Commissions (CQC) regulatory approach (information for all providers)

Please see the following message from the CQC:  

“We are continuing to inspect social care settings only where there is a clear risk to safety, or where we can support increasing capacity across the system. In adult social care, this includes an ambition to complete 1000 infection prevention and control (IPC) inspections and respond rapidly to requests to set up new Designated Settings. From January, we will begin a programme of activity to support the creating of additional capacity in the system. This includes rating adult social care services that are registered and not yet rated, and inspecting those currently rated as Requires Improvement to identify improvement and re-rate where possible.

We know that services across health and social care are experiencing considerable pressure from the spread of the Omicron variant and winter. While our priority always remains to keep people safe we will continue to ensure that our approach remains appropriate and proportionate. We also want to recognise the work of everyone in health and social care. Your efforts ensure people are able to receive care and the delivery of the vaccination programme.”

12. Care Home BSol Deterioration Service Guide (information for Birmingham and Solihull Care Homes)

The West Midlands Academic Science Network Deterioration Programme was established in March 2021; its focus is to improve management of residents’ deterioration and quality improvement in care homes across Birmingham and Solihull.  This national directive is being delivered locally through the BSol Deterioration Network, which has complied Service Guides listing the relevant service pathways which will signpost care homes to deterioration support services.  Please do refer to the following service guides for Solihull and Birmingham; please note the column in yellow on the Birmingham Guide, indicates services that can ONLY be accessed by Concept Care Homes in Birmingham.

The West Midlands Academic Science Network

Furthermore, we would like to use this opportunity to understand which care homes are currently using deterioration tools and would request you to complete a short survey monkey, link below.

BSOL Care Homes Managing Deterioration Survey

Training is being offered, on Deterioration Tools & Guides, taking place on the 19 January 2022, you can register for the webinar below:

Birmingham and Solihull Deterioration QI Webinar - Part 1

For further information, please contact  sheebamir@nhs.net - Programme Manager, or sophie.greave2@nhs.net - Project Support Officer.

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