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Referrals 01325 331 703
General 0800 138 8680
General
Referrals 01325 331 703 General 0800 138 8680

COVID-19 information

Last updated: 23rd September 2020

Following the announcement of additional COVID-19 related restrictions in many areas, we have re-enacted our standard operating procedures for local outbreaks, including the implementation of our exceptional visiting protocol. This means that all visits to services within the affected areas are now suspended, apart from those falling within a number of specific circumstances.

If you believe the service supporting your loved one may be affected by these restrictions, please contact the site directly to discuss the local arrangements being put in place.

Message from our Group Director of Nursing & Executive Lead for Infection, Prevention and Control

As the COVID-19 position continues to evolve, our teams remain focused on implementation of the latest guidance across all our services to ensure we provide the best possible care to the individuals we are supporting. Further to my previous update, I can confirm that our pandemic plans are fully operational and are subject to daily review to ensure their ongoing effectiveness.

24/7 operational leadership arrangements are in place and all services and colleagues have access to a dedicated helpline for any queries or requests for support. We are working to the latest national infection prevention and control guidance, alongside local restrictions to manage local outbreaks as determined by the Government and local authorities. We continue to work to the standards and requirements relating to COVID-19 through our pandemic management arrangements, including our monitoring and provision of the appropriate PPE. All of our young people have access to testing as do our staff.

Our teams are in regular contact with key commissioners and are following national guidance related to the provision of information, including nationally-required reporting. On this basis, I regret that we’re unable to respond to requests for business continuity plans or general preparedness information. Instead, we are directing external stakeholders to the information contained on this webpage, which we continue to update on a regular basis. However, if your query relates to a specific individual placed at one of our services, please contact that location directly using the contact details available on this website and we will do whatever we can to assist.

Kind regards,

Jane Stone
Group Director of Nursing & Executive Lead for Infection, Prevention and Control

Message from our Chief Operating Officer

During this challenging time, there is a need for us to change working practices in order to keep our children and staff safe. I need you to know that my number one priority is the safety of those children in our schools, children’s homes and fostering service. (I understand that some of the changes to visiting protocols may be upsetting, please be rest assured that we will do all we can to ensure contact takes place, albeit at times using alternative media).  

The senior team across our children’s services are committed to supporting our service through this difficult period. Every day we monitor each site to ensure that they have the correct supplies, children are feeling well and various quality aspects. We monitor for government guidance daily and enact it immediately. We have researched and implemented many innovative ways to deliver education in our schools and our children’s homes continue to amaze me with the creative activities they come up with in order to engage children. Our staff are certainly going the extra mile for which I am eternally grateful.

Our education teams at Priory have utilised a wide range of digital platforms, tailored to support the learning styles of our pupils, whilst practicing social distancing. Our schools have remained open throughout and we continue to work with parents and local authorities to support with referrals and placements, for both this academic year and September.

During these difficult times, it is important that we work together to combat this global pandemic. We must ensure that we keep communication lines open and support our children with both their physical and mental health. My team and I will do all we can to ensure that we support each Local Authority, parent, staff member but most importantly our children.

Chris Strong
Chief Operating Officer
Priory Education and Children’s Services

Education

Education during this time has had to change under the government recommendations of social distancing, providing onsite learning to vulnerable and key worker children only. With this is mind, our education teams at Priory are utilising a wide range of digital platforms that can be tailored to support the learning styles of our pupils.

Alongside digital learning, there are a wide range of physical work packs being sent out, supported with 1:1 telephone or video conferencing from our teachers. This way we are able to continue providing education to the widest range of needs and abilities. We have updated our safeguarding policy and procedures to support this change of teaching and are confident that we can continue to deliver the highest quality education possible during this time, as well as continuing to safeguard our learners.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Priory Education and Children’s Services as part of the Priory Group, is a component of a multi-nation network of services and supply routes. This gives us a wide array of expertise and resources which have enabled the development of detailed contingency plans during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

By using the experience and systems already aligned through our Priory Healthcare and Adult Care divisions, we have been able to put in place a system of personal protective equipment (PPE) supply. This will give access to all sites of a minimum of 72 hours of supply of all standard PPE set out in the National Infection Control Guidance. This emergency supply will provide enough time for our urgent supply system to engage, which allows for either the provision of PPE from our existing reserves or for supply from partner sites within the near vicinity to be provided.

We have access to supplies through the approved national supplier system with contracts established with a number of the main companies. In addition to this, we have the potential to make use of the National Supply Disruption Response (NSDR) and Local Resilience Forums (LRFs), which we have not yet needed to test.

There are clear protocols in place for the use of PPE and management escalation systems in place to ensure that any challenges within the system are able to be addressed on a 7 day a week basis.  

Information on visiting

We are currently implementing social distancing in our education and childcare settings, as advised by the government. All visits will be screened prior to taking place and prior contact must be made with the service to discuss any visits. Individual services will conduct their own risk assessments around visitors and visiting dependent upon the current presentation of staff and young people.

Referrals

Our usual practice of receiving and reviewing referrals will continue. We are committed to working closely with Local Authorities and families to ensure that children and young people have access to education and care. Our services have identified support in their regions for things such as staffing, resource, space if required, and key skills, through their continuity plans.

We understand that Local Authorities will continue to require services for individuals whose changing placement requirements may override the restriction of movement set out by the government. For example, this could include children and young people who may be facing a children’s home closure. We will therefore continue to accept and review these referrals on a case-by-case basis.

For those who will require a new placement but the referral is not urgent, please do send these through to us as normal. Due to the ‘stay at home’ agenda we are reviewing alternative ways in which we can offer assessments through Skype and other online communication platforms.

Admissions

In the event of a child or young person being referred who is self-isolating, or is confirmed as having COVID-19, we will continue to process this request as usual and seek to offer a placement, once they are cleared as fit to move location. Where a decision has been made to admit a child or young person, please be assured that a thorough pre-admission checklist, which will include robust risk assessment, will be completed. This screening and assessment will take into consideration all relevant factors, such as the location the young person is coming from, their current health, potential exposure to COVID-19 and the current status of the Priory service into which they will be moving. All risk assessments will be signed off by a member of the senior leadership team, who are taking every possible step to ensure the continued safety of all young people and staff within Priory Education and Children’s Services.

Discharges

It is important to us that Priory Education and Children’s Services is able to continue to support you and your service users during this time, and we commit to do all we can to ensure risks are managed and monitored, whilst continuing to facilitate placements, where all parties deem it safe. Discharges are not possible when a young person may be in isolation, we will work in partnership with the Local Authority to ensure support during this time.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Below you will find a helpful list of answers to the frequently asked questions (FAQs) we have been receiving at Priory Education and Children’s Services, regarding COVID-19.

We will be updating the information on a regular basis, therefore do revisit this website page. If you have any questions or specific placement enquiries, please do get in touch.

  • Q: What steps are your organisation taking to protect your staff and young people?

    A: A full business continuity plan is in place for each service. The organisation is following all government/public health advice and communicating with parents/carers, young people and staff. The following immediate steps are in place:

    • Hand washing routines
    • Screening and managing reduction of visitors
    • Cancelling of trips
    • Avoiding unnecessary travel


    Please also see the Priory blog which is updated on a regular basis, click here to view. 

  • Q: How will your organisation respond if the estimated 30% of the workforce is affected by the virus?

    A: Services are assessing staff absence, alongside pupil attendance and required staffing levels on a daily basis. We are taking decisions based on safety on at least a daily basis. As a large organisation, we have access to regional resources which we can access in relation to staff support, providing additional operational assurance and staff numbers.  

  • Q: Are your employees able to access all of the necessary information and documents they need to work from home?

    A:  We operate through a virtual private network (VPN) and staff have access to this or are being given this as necessary. This is reviewed and actioned daily.

  • Q: Have you already postponed meetings, events or travel, and what impact has this had?

    A:  Meetings are being managed as conference calls. Trips are being cancelled for the foreseeable future, travel of staff and managers is being reduced, and all visitors are being screened for symptoms of COVID-19 and other health issues. Our business is large and flexible enough to accommodate the rapid changes being communicated and any impact is being mitigated as far as possible. Any serious impact will be communicated to our local authorities, if identified. We are minimising any impact on children and young people as a priority.

  • Q: How will you communicate with employees, customers and suppliers if you have to close your offices and premises, including satellite locations?

    A: Senior staff are able to work from home and will be able to communicate via secure email to appropriate stakeholders in a timely manner.

  • Q: If your offices are closed, are you still able to collect payments and pay your bills?

    A: Yes, business continuity plans have been put in place which will allow support functions, including sales ledger, accounts payable and payroll to work remotely.

  • Q: Have you contacted your critical suppliers to discuss their COVID-19 plans?

    A: The supplier relationship is being closely managed through regular contact. Our suppliers have their own business continuity plans in place, which we are happy will mitigate any potential impact.

  • Q: Do you have alternate suppliers?

    A: Yes, we have group preferred suppliers which we are liaising with, however we also have a wider supplier network who we have been in contact with to ensure contingency plans, if any issues are incurred. 

  • Q: Are your services sustainable?

    A: We are a large national organisation and benefit from the wider support and flexibility that this affords. We have a number of support services in our company which our services can draw upon in order to continue. Our services have identified support in their regions for things including staffing, resource, space if required, and key skills, through their continuity plans. 

  • Q: Will you still be looking at referrals during this time?

    A: Yes, our usual practice of receiving and reviewing referrals will continue. In the event of a young person being referred who is self-isolating or is confirmed as having COVID-19, we will continue to process this request as usual and seek to offer a placement, once the young person is cleared as fit to move location.

  • How are you training your staff during this period?

    Our training has been adapted where necessary and we have made good use of online platforms to enable us to train our staff via video conferencing methods. Any critical face-to-face training required undergoes a thorough risk assessment and is in line with all government guidance.