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Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance for the housing, homelessness and support sector

We are in daily contact with the Welsh Government's housing and social care teams, working with them to consider and respond to the risks and concerns affecting the homelessness, housing and support sector. We have provided them with a number of scenarios and questions and we will be attending a Welsh Government meeting on Monday to aid the development of guidance for the homelessness and housing support sector. We are also part of a weekly Welsh Government conference call regarding the social care sector. 

While we recognise that our members are anxious to receive information, we will not be circulating any advice that hasn't been approved by the Welsh Government / Public Health Wales. We have a responsibility to ensure that the information we provide is appropriate and does not result in unintended harm to people using or delivering services.

We will update this web page with any further information as soon as we receive it.

General information and resources:


Update from the Welsh Government (13 March 2020)

I appreciate that many of you are anxious to ensure that you have measures in place to respond appropriately in the event of confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst your tenants to protect them, other tenants and your staff.

To this end I attach for your reference;

  1. Updated guidance for social or community care and residential settings
  2. Guidance for employers and businesses

These provide general guidance which will be relevant to general needs settings and some supported accommodation settings. You should monitor the Public Health Wales website for further guidance, updates and for Welsh language versions. Please note that the employers guidance is currently being translated and signed off formally, so this is a draft version shared in the interests of providing you with as much information as we can at this stage.

https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/

We are working with partners to generate further, sector specific guidance and will provide updates as and when further information becomes available.

Please also find below a brief Q&A which you may find useful if landlords are in the situation where they have a confirmed case within their properties. We will aim to build on this Q&A in collaboration with colleagues in the sector and make it available via our website in due course;

Q: Where a case has been confirmed should a landlord’s staff continue to visit the property?

  • You will need to decide if a visit is necessary for the safety and wellbeing of the tenant, for example in an emergency or if there is a safety related repair needed.
  • In the event of an urgent or safety related repair visit being needed the following general precautions should be taken;
    • The member of staff making the visit should maintain a distance of 2 meters from the infected person – if possible ask the infected resident to remain in a different room from where the work needs to be undertaken. The contractor/staff member should avoid touching their face and ensure that hands are washed thoroughly once they leave the premises

Q: Should we inform other tenants (especially where the individual is self-isolating within a block with communal areas)?

  • No, unless there is a very specific and immediate risk to others but note that PHW will generally undertake contact tracing where a case is confirmed.

Q: Is there a necessity to deep clean entire blocks / communal areas when a case has been confirmed in a location?

  • The general advice is to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. The landlord may wish to advise the resident to undertake such cleaning of their external door furniture this being the most likely area with which other members of the public may come into direct contact. If the landlord plans to undertake this themselves they should be careful to do so in a sensitive manner so as not to risk causing unnecessary concern to other residents or drawing undue attention to the individual resident.
  • If the resident has access to and has used common areas then the PHW local health protection team will advise on any requirement for cleaning
  • Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors, stairwells, lifts) do not need to be specially cleaned and disinfected unless PHW advise otherwise.

Q: How soon after diagnosis can the property be ‘unflagged’ and no longer deemed a risk in terms of infection spread?

  • We suggest that 14 days would minimise risk.

 


Statement from Emma Williams, Welsh Government Deputy Director for Housing Policy (6th March 2020):

We have received a number of queries regarding guidance to protect staff, tenants and service users in the face of the growing concerns around the spread of Coronavirus. In broad terms concerns fall into two categories; firstly the more general preventative and cautionary actions to be taken by all staff working in the sector and secondly the specific actions that may need to be taken by those working with vulnerable individuals in hostels, emergency and supported accommodation and via outreach.

I have discussed with policy colleagues leading on the response here in Wales who feel that in relation to the general functions of social landlords the guidance currently being finalised for ‘general employment’ situations along with the guidance for social and community residential settings should meet the sector’s needs. The current Government guidance relating to social and community care settings can be accessed at the link below. The ‘Employers’ guidance will, we understand be finalised imminently. We will issue a link to further guidance as soon as it has been finalised and agreed.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-social-or-community-care-and-residential-settings-on-covid-19/guidance-for-social-or-community-care-and-residential-settings-on-covid-19

Outreach, hostels, emergency and supported accommodation

Regarding advice and guidance for the sector working in hostels, emergency and supported accommodation or via outreach particularly with rough sleeping and other vulnerable populations we recognise the legitimate concerns being raised and are considering them with colleagues in WG and Public Health.

We also have a growing list of further specific questions on which we will seek to provide Q&A on over the coming days. Please direct further specific queries to housing&regenerationgovernmentbusiness@gov.wales 

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© Cymorth Cymru 2020
Company Registration No: 5093332
Charity No: 1116774