Kate Allen, CEO weekly update 8th May 2020
Whilst the country waits for government direction on the end of lockdown, there is no doubt that society is gradually easing itself as there are noticeably more people out in the community. However, our approach remains the same; that we must protect each other and the people we support through social distancing and protective equipment such as face masks and hand washing. Incredibly since the middle of March we have purchased more than 50,000 gloves, 12,000 aprons and almost 7,000 masks at costs in excess of £7,000 and we will no doubt buy more.
Our autism support workers and managers have been fabulous, with many providing additional cover for staff absences, working overtime and cancelling annual leave plans. The same applies to our regular agency workers who we consider to be part of the Autism at Kingwood team and who have also stepped in to ensure support is provided to those who need it most. We currently have 33 staff absent (30 last week), of whom 22 are self-isolating and shielding; 11 employees are absent due to sickness including symptoms and confirmed cases of coronavirus. None have needed hospitalisation. We are pleased that local testing facilities are improving and that a number of staff have accessed these, with swift results. One person we support is continuing to be affected by Covid-19 but has remained at home and is doing ok. We have had no new cases amongst the people we support in the last week, which is encouraging and a testament to our staff and our approach
Inevitably PPE and additional staffing comes at an additional cost and the Government has distributed emergency funds totalling £3.2 billion to local authorities, to help the social care sector’s additional costs incurred.
Oxfordshire County Council has issued each provider in their authority with a one-off payment equivalent to 10% of the usual contract income; Reading Borough Council issued a 3% uplift for 3 months on council commissioned services also as a one off payment; Wokingham Borough Council offered 3% to smaller support packages (which doesn’t apply for most of the people we support) and just recently also set up an emergency fund to recover the additional costs incurred as a result of Covid-19 and Buckinghamshire County Council also has an emergency fund.
While the emergency funding available isn’t covering all of our additional costs, as an accountable organisation with a robust business model, we have a modest financial reserve which we can call upon at times of crises. We will continue to call upon Government and local authorities to address the social care funding shortfall going forward.
Those we support continue to inspire us with how they are coping and our staff inspire us with the many creative ideas they are using to work around the difficulties presented by lock-down. The Royal British legion itself has drawn many parallels between the struggles of the Second World War and what we are going through today.
As well as thinking about what the Government announcement this weekend will bring with regards to lifting some of the lockdown measures, we will all be taking time to remember the sacrifices of a generation who fought determinedly for our future 75 years ago, when Britain celebrated the end of Second World War. Whilst VE day marked the ‘beginning’ of the end, the repercussions of the war continued and required a sustained countrywide effort to bring us as a society through. Hopefully we will turn a similar corner this weekend with the beginning of the end of coronavirus, but similarly our efforts will be sustained to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the people we support, our staff and the wider community. We remain united, just as communities united 75 years ago.
Kate Allen, CEO