The Prime Minister has set out clear instruction that all those who can stay at home, do so with immediate effect, in order to stop the spread of coronavirus - www.gov.uk/coronavirus
The council is focusing its efforts at present on the following agreed priority areas, as well as continuing to run as many Council services as possible:
- Heath and Social Care - guidance and support to our adult and children social care services, including commissioning and supporting our Care Providers and also working collaboratively with our health partners to create urgent capacity in our health system and establishing the necessary infrastructure to clear our hospital beds as quickly as possible.
- COVID -19 Resident Support - guidance and support relating to resident including rough sleeping, community safety and claiming benefits.
- COVID-19 specific support to 2,500 South Tyneside Businesses - providing and delivering financial support packages, business rates support and guidance on business operations. This is requiring mobilising significant dedicated capacity.
- Our Workforce - continuous COVID-19 information and guidance to our workforce related to critical and non-critical workers, employee wellbeing, ICT support etc. Redeploying our workforce across the authority to deliver services for residents and businesses
The Council is working with the Government to help support the most vulnerable residents who have been advised to 'shield' from society for a period of at least 12 weeks.
South Tyneside Council is working with National Government to implement a new service to look after the 1.5 million most vulnerable citizens with the greatest health needs and identifying all those in South Tyneside who require shielding support. The service will be operational from Friday.
Those within this extremely vulnerable health group are being contacted by NHS England to confirm that they need to 'shield' themselves at home for at least 12 weeks. For those who do not have a social network to support them, the Council is working around the clock with National Government to establish and agree a three-fold offer to support them:
National Government have determined that the direct delivery of basic food parcels from food industry partners to doorsteps should be coordinated at national level. The Government has confirmed that they are working on definitive food supply arrangements and there will likely be a ramping up of this offer over time. In the meantime, where residents have no other support network the Council will do its utmost to provide an appropriate food offer.
The support network for the supply and delivery of medicines is actively being determined by National Government and, where necessary, we will play our part.
The Council, working with our fantastic voluntary and community sector is best placed to provide support to those who might be feeling isolated. For volunteers it may feel as though they are ready and waiting to be deployed and a little frustrated that they're not yet playing a more active role. However, volunteers can be assured that we are working through delivering this in a safe approach.
Last night Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, announced plans for a 250,000-strong volunteer force to help the NHS deal with the UK's coronavirus outbreak. This now provides a formal route for those in our voluntary and community sector who wish to play an immediate active role. The roles available to volunteers include Community Response volunteers, Patient Transport volunteers and NHS Transport volunteers.
Those wishing to apply to become a volunteer must meet the following requirements:
- Volunteers must be 18 or over, and fit and well with no coronavirus symptoms.
- Those in higher-risk groups (including those over 70, those who are pregnant or with underlying medical conditions) will be able to offer support by telephone.
- Patient transport driver volunteers will also require an enhanced DBS check and will receive guidance to do this role safely.
The application form for those in your communities who wish to get involved can be found at Good SAM: NHS Volunteer Responders
Once we have confirmation of registration those volunteers provide a potential resource for our local support offer.
The Council's immediate priority is to get the critical infrastructure in place to reach the most vulnerable, using current Council resources and networks. Some volunteering groups are already active in the community, checking on vulnerable residents and helping out where they can.
The Council will also need to ensure that we are providing support to our other vulnerable residents, who may not have a critical medical condition, but who for other reasons may require some provision from the Council.
A bespoke COVID-19 support line will be activated by the Council within 48 hours for those residents who have no other network of support available. This will 'go-live' on Friday 27 March and I will advise you of the dedicated number early Friday morning.
The Council Contact Centre number is 0191 427 7000 from Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm and Saturday 9am - 1pm. The emergency out of hours number is 0191 455 6111 and is to be used for emergencies only.
Service disruptions will continue to be updated at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/coronavirus.