It is important that plans to re-open are effectively communicated to staff, people using the service, and any carers (paid or unpaid) who may be accompanying them. This should be done before the service re-opens.
For staff, this will ensure they understand and follow any new procedures required to reduce the risk of spreading the infection and keeping themselves and those who use the service safe. Plans must be communicated to all staff. This must include those who are employed within the service but do not provide direct care to supported people such as ancillary, administrative, catering or cleaning staff.
For supported people, their families and unpaid carers, effective communication will mean they know what to expect when they return to the service. It should help them understand any modifications made and the rationale behind them. This is particularly important where there are new routines and procedures that people will need to understand and follow. Some paid staff who support people outwith the day service may also play an important role in understanding and reinforcing people’s expectations.
There will be some supported people and families who are concerned about the risk of attending a service. Communication which seeks to address key concerns and gives people clear information about new arrangements will support them to decide if they wish to return to the service or if there is another way to have their needs met.
Services should consider the best way to communicate with each individual, taking into account the preference of the supported person and their unpaid carers. Services may wish to develop easy-read versions of documents or versions in other languages. Alternatively, other options may be considered and offered, including video messaging, phone calls, text messages, face to face or email.
It is important that when services communicate using these additional measures, that they consider the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), the need to update their existing privacy policies and, where relevant, process any personal data in compliance with that legislation. When face to face communication is preferred and suitable, ensure that the relevant physical distancing guidance is adhered to.
Informing the Care Inspectorate – service notifications
Once all partners are content the appropriate modifications have been made and risk assessments undertaken prior to re-opening a registered support service, the Care Inspectorate must be advised. This is managed through a “Changes to Service Delivery due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)” notification. This informs the Care Inspectorate about operational changes specifically related to COVID-19. This notification is available through the Care Inspectorate’s eForms.
Services that do not update their status, will be considered as closed by the Care Inspectorate. Registered service will have inspection visits.
Services intending to re-open must make themselves familiar with changes to the Care Inspectorate’s notification process as well as any new guidance that has been developed while the service has been temporarily closed. Services should also consider if there are changes to conditions of registration that need to be discussed with the Care Inspectorate. For example, if a registration certificate specifies days of the week and/or opening times for operation, this may have changed to reflect capacity changes e.g. more sessions but with fewer attendees at each.