Kate Allen, CEO Update 5th June 2020
Is it safe to come out yet?
Whilst many in the country are getting back to some semblance of normality, in some ways for most of Autism at Kingwood it has never been anything other than to ‘keep doing what we do’, to keep supporting autistic people. However, despite the new guidance on social distancing, professionally we are not encouraging groups of up to 6 people to meet in their gardens. We have to keep reminding ourselves and each other that the danger of Covid-19 has not gone away and it still poses a great threat to some of the people we support; easing out of lockdown does not mean all risks have gone away.
With that firmly in mind we are following government advice to stay at home where possible, and that includes when supporting some people with their day to day activities.
However, lockdown easing does mean that where it is not a high risk for people to visit with their families in outdoor spaces we can support and facilitate that. The definition of high risk is a measurement that we will take with the individual (where possible), with their relatives and with their staff teams. In most circumstances we will continue to ask families and relatives not to visit shared houses or flats where there might be contact with other people we support. Whilst the risk of visiting your relative might be low, it could pose serious threats to others.
Autism at Kingwood staff are required to keep wearing facemasks when within 2 metres of someone we support. Whilst it is not a requirement for relatives, where this might cause confusion for the individual or where the relative has a lot of contact with other people (maybe through their work) we might ask if you would consider doing the same. This helps us to send a consistent message to people we support that the mask is important for everyone.
The Association of Directors of Public Health are advising that now is the time for steady leadership, careful preparation and measured steps. I couldn’t agree more as our transmission rates have been so low and we want to keep it that way. I am so grateful to everyone who has worked hard together to keep each other safe; not one person we support or employee has been hospitalised. This is incredible and long may it last. This week has also passed with no new cases amongst people we support or employees, although one employee is still recovering. Every week I talk with the CEO’s of other providers who share sad stories of people they support and/or employees dying as a result of this virus. While the outbreak is coming under control and the NHS is in a better position to cope with cases of Covid-19, there is still no vaccine. People are still dying and we need to keep being alert to the risks. And we will.
In addition to the ongoing concerns of COVID-19, I, along with the rest of the world, have been horrified at the death of George Floyd, and it is right for me to reiterate that Black Lives Matter at Autism at Kingwood, especially in light of the recent review that found that BAME Britons were more likely to die from Covid-19 than white people. Further investigative work into why is ongoing. I am mindful that as a predominantly white led organisation, we should question ourselves on our practice to ensure there is no racism, intended or otherwise. If you are black and someone we support, a family member or friend of someone we support, or a member of our staff, your input on how we could do better is invaluable. Please help us learn #BlackLivesMatter
Finally, I’d like to extend a further welcome to the 42 new employees who have joined us since the beginning of March and the Coronavirus outbreak. I’ve met almost everyone through the online Induction training we have delivered, ensuring that despite social distancing we can maintain our friendly reception to the organisation and introduction into who we are and why we do what we do. Every Kingwood employee makes a difference to the life of an autistic person and making a positive difference is one of the best things to do in life.