Kate Allen, CEO update – 24th April 2020
One month and one day ago the country entered lock-down with much anxiety and apprehension about what was to follow. No one can deny the seriousness of this situation as sadly more than 18,000 people have died as a result of the coronavirus outbreak; a shocking number of lives affected.
It has been a mixed week at Autism at Kingwood but what keeps us all going is that of the 140 people we support only 3 have displayed symptoms so far and all have recovered.
As key workers Autism at Kingwood employees are trying very hard to minimise the risk of transmitting and contracting the Covid-19 virus. Since the outbreak we have had a total of 64 staff absent, with 36 currently off work. The reasons for absences vary greatly and whilst 21 members of staff have been symptomatic over that period, fortunately there have been no cases where people have needed to be hospitalised which is of great relief. Frustratingly although the testing is available to symptomatic key workers and people we support, the results can take up to 3 days to come back. However, whilst none of our employees have used the testing facilities themselves yet, we do know of others who have and the process was relatively straightforward. We have comfortable levels of PPE stocks at the moment and we are closely monitoring the rapidly changing guidance from Public Health England, along with that of our local authorities.
During this time we have continually had to respond to the changing situation and this doesn’t just apply to our frontline staff. We made changes to our recruitment processes very quickly sending out an APB on 20th March calling to people who may be facing uncertainty about the future of their employment to come and speak with us. With social distancing rules in place (and the lock-down 3 days later) we offered online interviews the same week with offers made within 24hours and a request for escalated DBS checks all submitted within days. We haven’t lowered our training standards either; with me, Estelle, Karen and Lynn delivering our first online Induction training just 10 days later. Since then we have delivered 3 online induction training courses, countless e-learning courses and revised both our autism programme and positive crisis avoidance training.
This change in approach has meant we have welcomed 23 new employees onto the Kingwood team since 20th March with a range of backgrounds from experienced social care workers to a qualified hairdresser. This is an incredible 77% increase on our usual recruitment statistics and whilst our new employees may have joined during a particularly anxious time we will do our best to welcome and support them, as we try to do with all of our employees. For a long time people we support have formed part of the interview panel as paid employees and we are delighted that some have now continued to offer their services to interview online. We look forward to them helping us in coming weeks.
Whether new members of the Kingwood team or long standing; frontline key worker or our wonderful HR Recruitment Officers, every Thursday when I go out onto my street to clap it is with the entire workforce of the organisation and their families in my thoughts for keeping the people we support safe, supported and as happy as possible during this remarkable time in our lives.
Kate Allen, CEO