Should I keep my setting open during this scary time? If I do will I help the spread of coronavirus?

I work with clients from many different parts of the care sector.  Their current worries range from:

  • We work in a residential home so need to keep going – what if all the staff are off sick?
  • My day nursery can’t afford to lose any more money what if I have to shut and pay wages?
  • I run a group for teenagers each week – should we stop meeting?
  • Our day centre is full of adults at risk – some with health issues – what should we do?

It is a worrying time for all of us and certainly has echoes of how many of us were feeling many years ago during the foot and mouth epidemic, the fuel crisis and subsequent worries over Ebola and swine flu.

And as always, the answer is never straightforward.  We all have a duty to minimise any risk.  Interestingly, the main advice is what all of you who have been on my food safety course have DONE to pass the course – good handwashing.  Reassuring to see from an article in the Guardian (02.03.20) that hand gel work YES BUT the best is good old fashioned soap, water and washing for 20 seconds! 

  • So, control what you can – are you sticking to this advice and are you teaching all the children and young people you work with to do the same?  So that is the first bit of advice. 
  • The second is to be careful what you are overheard saying to whom – we all know that especially children are very good at listening in to conversations and I have been really alarmed at the level of anxiety that some young children are experiencing.  We need to help them to deal with scary thoughts and support them in facing life’s challenges and building resilience.
  • As with other areas of service delivery, you need to take a risk-based approach.  This works in just the same way as first aid and safeguarding.  So for example, if you run a youth group in a rural area where all the children come from one village and go to one school, this presents a lower risk than a group which hosts children from lots of different schools and areas.  Some simple adjustments to day to day routines can help to reduce the risks too.
  • Business continuity plans – yes we all moan and groan but this it what they are here for!  What can you do to sustain your business?  Do you have off site systems which can support – can someone who is in an administrative role work from home by logging into your IT systems?
  • Talk to staff and service users.  See what they think!  Your team are much more likely to be supportive if you involve them in decision making and are open about the financial situation.  If staff do need to take time off in isolation, but are well, are there ways they can be supporting the business while they are at home?  I have been working with a supplier to make sure I can deliver trainings via internet video link – can staff do any training which they are off?  Do records need to be updated?  Could your records management policy be adapted to enable staff to work securely on updating information while not on site…?  My experience of managing many teams is that staff will work with you if you are open with them.
  • Keep checking the latest government advice at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public - don’t keep issuing your own advice – signpost people to hear so that there is consistency.

As always, if you need any specific advice let me know!

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