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Referrals 0203 988 4682
General 0800 138 8680
General
Referrals 0203 988 4682 General 0800 138 8680

Covid-19 information

Last updated: 4th November 2020

We continue to review all national guidance, statements and requirements related to Covid-19, and are consistently implementing them as required across our full range of services. Given the current restrictions that are in force we have standard operating procedures in place, which include adjusted visiting and leave arrangements. 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. Equally, if you have any suggestions or comments on how we are providing our services during these times, please do not hesitate to contact coronavirusqueries@priorygroup.com.

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

We continue to ensure that all services across our four divisions and central support teams are meeting the requirements to keep everyone as safe as possible in these difficult times. Our pandemic plan remains fully operational, along with a specific focus on the management of flu and other seasonal-related conditions.

Operational leadership arrangements are in place across all services 24/7 and colleagues have access to a dedicated helpline regarding Covid-19 for any queries or requests for support. We are working to the latest national infection prevention and control guidance, alongside 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 patients 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 continue to be 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 site 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 services are currently operating in “Bubbles” and this arrangement has been communicated to children, young people, carers and families. All of our services have Covid-secure arrangements in place which are reviewed regularly to ensure compliance with current national guidance, so that the children and young people can continue to attend with some modified procedures at their school or college. We monitor the impact of Covid-19 on our services daily so that we are responsive to any situation which may arise.

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. With this is mind, our education teams at Priory have been utilising a wide range of digital platforms that can be tailored to support the learning styles of our pupils and enhance the educational experience for children and young people who may not be able to attend their education due to Covid-19.

Our education services are currently operating in “Bubbles” and this arrangement has been communicated to children, young people, carers and families. All of our services have Covid Secure arrangements in place which are reviewed regularly to ensure compliance with current national guidance, so that children and young People can continue to attend with some modified procedures at their school or college. We monitor the impact of Covid-19 on our services daily so that we are responsive to any situation which may arise.

We continue to review all national guidance and update our policies and procedures where necessary, and we have given particular attention to our safeguarding policy to support the enhanced online teaching methods we have put in place over this period. We 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.

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: Will my child’s/young person’s school or college still be open during Covid-19 and the national restrictions that come into force in England on Thursday 5th November?

    A: We will follow all of the national guidance and always aim to keep our schools open. While some schools/colleges across the country may at times be instructed to close, our schools/colleges will remain open in order to continue working with our children/young people, or offer a blended approach to education with some remote education where necessary.

  • Q: Does my child/young person have to attend school?

    A: The Coronavirus Act 2020 sets out the legal amendments to various other Acts, including section 444 of the Education Act 1996 which specifically relates to the legal requirement of parents ensuring that their child/young person is attending education. We will ensure that parents are informed of any changes that are applied as a result of a government review in relation to the opening and closure of schools, and what this means legally for parents around the attendance of their child. Currently, attendance in education is still compulsory.

  • 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:

    • Maintaining good hand hygiene
    • Arranging the delivery of education through bubbles to reduce risk
    • Adhering to the 2 meter social distancing rule when possible Screening and managing reduction of visitors
    • Cancelling of trips
    • Avoiding unnecessary travel 
  • 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 given this as necessary. This is reviewed and actioned daily.

  • Q: How are you dealing with changing guidance and restrictions?

    A:  We continue to review national guidance daily and 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.

    Meetings can be adapted to being managed as conference calls. Travel of staff and managers is reviewed against local restrictions, and all visitors are being screened for symptoms of Covid-19 and other health issues.

  • 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.

  • Q: How are you training your staff during this period?

    A: 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.