Sefton Council and local authorities across the Liverpool City Region have written to the care sector including residential care home owners and managers to update them on measures required by the significant increases in COVID-19 confirmed cases across Merseyside.
Letters have also been sent to schools setting out new requirements for visiting adults. The Government has placed the wider Merseyside area on the “area of concern watch list” meaning that our testing data is being reviewed daily by the Government and Public Health England and if increases continue, restrictions could be imposed.
Therefore, to protect their vulnerable residents, Merseyside’s Councils are asking care homes to limit interactions with people from outside who may be carrying coronavirus.
Protecting our most vulnerable residents has been a priority for Sefton Council since the start of the pandemic, which is why, regrettably, we are instructing care homes to limit visits into care homes.
The following visits will continue but we will be reviewing this position on a weekly basis.
- Essential visits by health professionals
- Visits from families and relatives to those residents who are receiving end of life care may continue subject to robust risk assessments.
- Garden visits subject to risk assessments.
All other non-essential visits and visits by family members into care homes are suspended until further notice.
To maintain contact with family members the Council is encouraging people to keep in touch with their loved one through digital channels such as Zoom or WhatsApp and we will support care home staff to facilitate safe contact in this way.”
Cllr Paul Cummins, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care said: “We know this will be a disappointment for care home residents and their families across the City Region and we acknowledge the hard work our Sefton Care homes have undertaken to manage the risks of an outbreak but it’s vital we take this action to prevent COVID-19 getting into care homes and spreading among residents.
“Younger people are less likely to be affected seriously by COVID-19 and are often asymptomatic and our concern is that when they visit they will unwittingly pass the virus on to their vulnerable relatives for whom coronavirus could be very serious or even fatal.”
Sefton Council’s letter also explains to care sector providers that it is working with council colleagues across City Region to ensure a coordinated response to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. This work includes requirements around a consistent approach to the Government’s recently-introduced ‘rule of 6’.
This includes considering the benefits and risks of people returning to day services, their transport arrangements and the number of days they may be able to access services.
In the letter, Sefton Council expresses its ongoing appreciation that care providers are all doing their best to support people and keep them safe. It also highlights the need to be aware of the risks posed by groups of people coming together while also taking the needs of service uses and their families into account.
Cllr Cummins added: “With numbers of coronavirus cases rising across the region, it is important that we weigh up the significant benefits our day services can provide for users and their families with the risks of groups of them coming together to use them.
“We are working closely with our colleagues across the City Region to ensure we are taking a coordinated and proportional approach that ensures people can understand what is happening and what is not and that no-one is missing out because they are a resident of a particular area.”
Sefton Council has told care providers it will be arranging a meeting with them in the coming days to discuss the concerns and questions and they may have.
Schools have been told that from now on, all adults will be required to wear face coverings when visiting or entering the school premises and just one adult will be able to enter the premises for drop-off and pick-up.
Parents and carers dropping off or collecting their children are being asked to arrive and leave promptly and not to congregate at the school gate or in the playground. Also, school staff are being asked to wear face coverings when they come out onto the playground.
Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Safeguarding, Cllr John Joseph Kelly said: “It is important that our children get back to school and resume their education and I would like to thank all of our teachers, schools and education staff, parents and carers and the pupils themselves for working with us to achieve this as safely as possible.
“However, we know that since the Borough’s schools have re-opened, we have seen a number of class and year bubbles as well as school staff being sent home to isolate owing to positive test results or people showing coronavirus symptoms.
“I am pleased at the way each of these schools has dealt with the circumstances by following Public Health England guidelines and liaising with the Council to manage the situation.
“With number of COVID-19 cases rising across the region and Merseyside having been identified by the Government as “area of concern” we now need to introduce these extra measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“We know that children and younger people are less likely to be affected seriously by COVID-19 or may even be asymptomatic but the concern is that they could take the virus home to potentially vulnerable relatives for whom coronavirus could be very serious or even fatal.”
In the letter to schools, the Council also says that further new measure maybe necessary in the future.
Cllr Kelly added: “I hope these extra measures will help reduce the virus spreading in our school community and prevent more pupils and staff being sent home but if they don’t, we may have to contact schools about potential further measures.”