Information and support for families
Helpline for families
We have set up a helpline for the families of the people we support. The line is open from 9:30am to 1:30pm, Monday to Friday, and will give family members the opportunity to ask questions of our team of family consultants.
Phone 0300 303 9161 or Email: Family.firstname.lastname@example.org
This page was last updated on 21st May 2021
Roadmap out of lockdown
As you may have seen in the news, the Prime Minister announced a four-stage roadmap out of lockdown, with each stage dependent on certain conditions being met. All changes will take place across England, so there will be no return to the local tier system, and the hope is that all legal limits on social contact can be lifted by 19th July. You can read full details here on the BBC website.
Restrictions removed – but infection control measures remain
All restrictions on social gatherings will be removed in England on Monday 19th July, and in Wales on Saturday 7th August. In England, the legal requirement to wear a face covering on public transport or indoors in public buildings such as shops will also be removed and replaced by guidance to do so (apart from in London where face coverings will remain mandatory on public transport).
However, this is happening in the absence of government guidelines on how the social care sector can continue to keep vulnerable people safe and against the backdrop of rapidly increasing case rates. Therefore, our Pandemic Emergency Response Team has decided to adopt a cautious approach and all of our current infection control measures are to be kept in place for now, subject to regular review. These measures include the use of full PPE in services and the requirement for all visitors to services to have tested negative for Covid-19 and to wear a facemask.
CEO Steve Scown has written an open letter to the family members of people we support to explain the current situation. The letter includes a summary of our rules on visiting after the removal of legal restrictions, and you can download the letters at the bottom of this page.
Our roadmap out of the pandemic
We are very pleased to share our roadmap out of the pandemic for the Dimensions group. The roadmap uses the same dates as the government’s roadmap for England, and if the government’s dates change due to unforeseen circumstances, ours will too. For each of the dates, our Pandemic Emergency Response Team will confirm if the change will go ahead on the preceding Thursday and we will then communicate the decision in the bulletin sent out on Friday morning. The change will then be effective from the Monday.
Zoom calls for families
Our team of Family Consultants and Associate Family Consultants have set up two monthly drop-in sessions for families. They are on the second Thursday of every month from 10am to 11am and from 7.30pm to 8.30pm. The next sessions are on 8th April and 13th May and are for general questions, mutual support and chat. Joining details are available from the helpline for families.
The team is also keen to set up a group for siblings and cousins of people we support, so please let the helpline for families team know if you would like to join.
As you may have seen in the news, the NHS app, which can be downloaded to both Android and Apple smartphones, can now be used as a ‘vaccine passport’ to prove that you have been vaccinated against Covid-19. This app is not the same as the government’s Covid-19 app which is used for contact tracing and to check into venues.
The ability to prove our vaccine status will probably become increasingly useful for a variety of purposes. However, the NHS app does work with confidential health data and so, while we encourage you to consider downloading it on your personal mobile device, please do not download it on to a Dimensions device. More information on the app, and options to download it, are available here.
Indian variant concerns
You may have seen news about a new coronavirus variant originating in India which is now spreading in the UK. Current evidence suggests that this variant may be more contagious than other variants, but also that the vaccines are still effective in protecting against it. For this reason we don’t believe there is any cause for alarm, but the emergence of the new variant does add yet further weight to the case for getting vaccinated and for continuing to follow our rules on PPE and our other infection control measures.
Free rapid coronavirus tests available
Anyone who shares a household, childcare bubble or support bubble with at least one child in nursery or school, or a student at college, or with anyone who works in a school, nursery or college can now order free rapid lateral flow coronavirus test kits here on the government’s website. A test kit contains seven tests and you can order one test kit per household each day.
People we support and Learning Disability Registers
We believe that the vast majority of the people we support are on their GP’s Learning Disability Register, and so are being prioritised for vaccination. However, there may be some who aren’t and so Access Social Care has produced this guide to Learning Disability Registers and this letter template for family members to request that their loved one is included in the register.
Watch out for vaccine scams
Unfortunately, criminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to scam members of the public. Some people are receiving suspicious emails offering the COVID-19 vaccination. To protect yourself and your family members from fraud remember that there is never any charge for the vaccine, which is being provided free to everyone by the NHS. You should never be asked for payment or your bank details.
Court of Protection’s view on vaccination
The Court of Protection this week ruled that an 80-year-old woman lacking capacity should be given the Covid-19 vaccine against the wishes of her son. Although all court decisions are based on individual situations, the judgement indicates how thinking is developing when it comes to best interest decisions. If you’d like to read further, you can find the full judgement here.
Conditions that mean people are prioritised for vaccines
The government has pledged to offer a Covid-19 vaccination to everyone in the top four priority groups by mid-February. The fourth of these groups includes anyone who is aged over 16 and is classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. Please be aware that the list of conditions which mean that someone is officially regarded as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ includes Down’s syndrome, a ‘severe and profound learning disability’, diabetes, morbid obesity, ‘severe mental illness’ and epilepsy. Anyone who has any of these conditions should be prioritised for a vaccination. The full list of conditions can be found in this document.
Frequently Asked Questions
We all have many questions about the new coronavirus, Covid-19 and our response to the pandemic at Dimensions. In order to answer some of these, we are regularly updating a comprehensive Frequency Asked Questions document. You can download the latest version by clicking here.
Advance care planning
In response to Covid-19 we are aware that some providers are being contacted by primary care services to ensure that advanced care planning is in place for people who receive care and support. This includes people who have learning disabilities and autism, in particular those who are in care homes. Dimensions position statement sets out some key points for colleagues about which to be vigilant, so as to support processes around advanced care planning.
Letters to families
Our CEO Steve Scown has written open letters to families, which can be downloaded below.
Accessible advice, resources and activities to get through the coronavirus crisis
Now that the government has told everyone to stay indoors as much as possible, there is a greater need than ever for people to stay active and connected from home. Visit our ‘Advice, resources and activities to get through the coronavirus crisis’ resources page to find a wealth of ideas, activities and resources for life at home, so you and your loved one can stay active and connected.