Information for families

Information for families of people we support can be found here

More general information is listed below.

New letter to families 11/04/2022

We have a new open letter to all family members of the people we support from Rachael Dodgson – her first as group chief executive. The letter covers the latest visiting rules for families as well as an introduction from Rachael, comments on how we are facing the challenges of recruitment and the ways in which we involve and engage families.

Please download the appropriate letter from the options below and make sure that all family members of the people your teams support receive it as soon as possible in the most effective way.

New guidance for adult social care 01/04/2022

New guidance has been issued by the government in the last 24 hours for adult social care in England. Our Pandemic Emergency Response Team will be meeting early next week to discuss this and we will share any changes for our colleagues as soon as possible. In the meantime, please continue to follow our current rules and guidelines.

Covid rules changing for general public 01/04/2022

You may have seen in the news that pandemic-related rules for the general public are changing in both England and Wales. From today (1st April) in England, lateral flow test kits are no longer free to members of the general public except over-75s and over-12s with weakened immune systems, and contact tracing has ended. We will update you about our procedures for testing shortly, although it should be noted that we are well stocked with lateral flow test kits centrally. In Wales, lateral flow test kits will remain free for everyone with symptoms of Covid-19 until the end of June and contact tracing will continue.

While face coverings are no longer legally required in shops or on public transport, facemasks remain compulsory in health and social care settings. Dimensions colleagues must also continue to self-isolate as before if you catch Covid-19.

Evidence of a negative test still required for all visitors 18/03/2022

We are aware that the government has now issued guidance which states that while visitors to Registered Care Homes still need to provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test before entering, this is no longer required for visitors to supported living services. However, the executive team has decided that we will continue to require evidence of a negative test result for all visitors to any of our services – including contractors, family members and business support colleagues. This is because rates of Covid-19 remain high and we need to continue doing all we can to keep the people we support and colleagues safe.

As well as requiring a recent negative test result, we are also continuing to require all visitors to have their temperature checked before entering (this must be below 37.8 degrees Celsius), wear PPE and sign our Covid-19 health declaration form.

Self-isolation still required 18/03/2022

Even though self-isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 is no longer a legal requirement in England, it remains a requirement in the social care sector and for all colleagues at Dimensions.

PCR test still required for those with symptoms 18/03/2022

Please be aware that anyone who has symptoms of Covid-19 should continue to get a PCR test until the rules change on 1st April. Until then, if you receive a positive lateral flow test result you are only exempt from needing a PCR test if you don’t have any symptoms. We are awaiting guidance on testing rules for the social care sector following 1st April and will share this when we have it.

Vaccination not required for job applicants 11/03/2022

Now that plans to make vaccination mandatory for health and social care workers in England have been scrapped, we will no longer be asking any job applicants to confirm their vaccination status or intention.

U-turn on mandatory vaccinations confirmed 04/03/2022

This week the outcome of the government’s consultation on reversing its previous policy on mandatory vaccinations in England was confirmed. This means:

  • If you work in or visit a Registered Care Home, the requirement to be fully vaccinated or clinically exempt will end on 15th March 2022. Until 15th March, the current rules continue to apply, including the requirement for all visitors to sign the visitors’ book. From 15th March onwards, it will no longer be necessary to see any visitor’s vaccination evidence.
  • For all other colleagues, the previously planned requirement to be vaccinated from 1st April 2022 has been shelved and we no longer need to see evidence of your vaccination.

We appreciate this has been a difficult matter for many colleagues and, while Dimensions continues to urge all colleagues to get vaccinated, we are pleased to see this mandatory requirement put behind us.

Importance of booster jabs 04/03/2022

Having a booster Covid-19 vaccination is important to protect us all against serious illness. You can book to have your booster here on the NHS website, or you can go to a walk-in centre with no appointment needed – you can see the locations of walk-in centres here.

Rule changes for meetings – but no changes in services 25/02/2022

Yesterday the last legal rules intended to combat the spread of Covid-19 were lifted in England. This means that it is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid-19, although the government still advises you to do so. In addition, vaccinated contacts of people who have tested positive will no longer be asked to do daily lateral flow tests for seven days and contact tracing will end.

However, new government guidance has clearly stated that there are no changes yet for health and social care settings. This means that all of our infection control measures remain in place for services – including the use of PPE, daily lateral flow tests before work and the requirement for visitors to prove a negative test result received on the same day and to have their temperature checked. All previous requirements also remain in place for people we support who have been away and are returning home. We will continue to keep all these measures under review and will follow all current government guidance.

Face coverings still required in Wales 25/02/2022

In Wales, face coverings are still required in indoor public buildings. Some of the laws are changing on 28th February, but even after this date, face coverings will still be required in shops, on public transport and in health and care settings. We ask colleagues in Wales to continue wearing face coverings in all these settings, and also in training sessions and meetings if this is a requirement of the venue.

Second boosters on their way 25/02/2022

As you may have seen in the news, the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended a second booster jab against Covid-19 for all those aged over 75 and other vulnerable people in the spring. We will keep you informed about what this will mean for people we support. There are no indications at this stage that booster jabs will also be offered in the spring to health and social care workers, although a further round of booster jabs for other groups is expected in the autumn.

New letter to families 25/02/2022

We have a new open letter to all family members of the people we support from Steve Scown – his farewell letter as Chief Executive. The letter also covers the current situation regarding infection control measures and gives family members another opportunity to take part in the current survey.

As the survey is being organised regionally, there are again six versions of the letter, each with a different survey link. PDF forms of the survey were shared with the last letter.

The letters to families will continue, written by Rachael Dodgson.

Change to testing regime in England 04/02/2022

From 16th February, all support colleagues in England will need to take a lateral flow test every day they are working before they start their shift, as is already the case in Wales. Regular PCR tests for colleagues without Covid-19 symptoms will be dropped, although PCR tests will still be available to those with symptoms. There will be no changes to the regular asymptomatic testing for the people we support or to testing requirements in the event of an outbreak.

We are awaiting guidance on exactly how the new testing regime will be rolled out in England and will share any further details as soon as we can. Until 16th February, colleagues should continue with current testing procedures.

Vaccination requirement rescinded 04/02/2022

As you will know from other communications this week, the government is rescinding both the legal requirement for workers in Registered Care Homes to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and the plans to extend this requirement to all health and social care workers in England from 1st April. We have, therefore, ended dismissal proceedings for unvaccinated colleagues. We will provide a further update at the conclusion of the government’s short consultation period on the changes.

Please be aware, however, that all of our infection control measures remain in place, and it remains a legal requirement for visitors to Registered Care Homes, other than friends and family members of people who live there, to prove their vaccination status until current measures are officially repealed or new measures replace them.

New letter to families 04/02/2022

We have a new open letter to all family members of the people we support from Steve Scown. The letter informs family members in England about the government’s U-turn on mandatory vaccinations and our response to this, and also launches the new family and friends survey.

The survey is being organised regionally so that we can analyse the results more productively, and for this reason there are six versions of the letter, each with a different survey link and form. Please download the appropriate letter from the options below and make sure that all family members of the people your teams support receive it as soon as possible in the most effective way.

There will be a further farewell letter from Steve Scown to families before the end of the month.

New letter to families 01/02/2022

We have delayed the next main letter to families until next week when we hope to have a clearer understanding of the government’s intentions regarding the vaccine mandate for social care workers. However, we want to share a short letter in the meantime directly with family members of people supported in Registered Care Homes in England to let them know about the ending of limits on the numbers of visitors.

Please download the appropriate letter from the two options below and make sure that all family members of the people your teams support in Registered Care Homes only receive it as soon as possible in the most effective way.

Plan B ends, but our measures remain 01/02/2022

As you will have seen in the news, the government has ended its ‘Plan B’ measures in England which means, among other things, that face coverings are no longer mandatory in indoor public spaces and on public transport (although a number of shops and transport providers have introduced their own rules) and there are no longer limits on visitor numbers to Registered Care Homes. It is important to note, however, that the pandemic is not yet over and even though the Omicron variant is less dangerous than earlier variants, it can still be deadly, especially for vulnerable people. Therefore we are not yet easing any of our infection control measures – including the use of PPE, regular testing for colleagues and a requirement for negative lateral flow tests and temperature checks for all visitors to services. We will keep you up to date with any future changes to government guidance in these areas.

Restrictions in England are eased 21/01/2022

The government has announced the end of ‘Plan B’ restrictions in England, which means that from this week people are no longer advised to work from home if they can and, from Thursday 27th January, it will no longer be a legal requirement to wear a face covering when inside public buildings or on most public transport. For now it will remain a legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive Covid-19 test.

Testing and self-isolation guidance 14/01/2022

Following the changes to rules on testing and self-isolation in England announced last week, the government has now issued guidance specifically for health and social care workers. In the light of this, we have updated our own guidance and you can download it here. The guidance now states that if you receive a positive lateral flow test result, you must stay at home and self-isolate immediately, but you don’t need to take a confirmatory PCR test –unless you have symptoms or you work in a Registered Care Home.

When to end self-isolation 14/01/2022

Yesterday the government announced that the self-isolation period in England is being reduced to five full days if negative lateral flow test results are received on days 5 and 6. However, specific guidance on how this affects health and social care workers has not yet been issued, and so colleagues should continue to follow our rules on self-isolation until we update them. These state that fully vaccinated colleagues can stop isolating on day 7 (day 8 in Wales) if they receive a negative lateral flow test result 24 hours apart on days 6 and 7, and continue to test daily with lateral flow tests until day 10.

If you are still testing positive for Covid-19 after 10 days of self-isolation, managers can now undertake a risk assessment to determine if you can return to work.

Close contact guidance for England 14/01/2022

Some confusion has arisen about the current rules for people identified as a close contact of someone with Covid-19, and this is because the rules for health and social care workers are now more rigorous than for the general public. Whereas members of the general public can now continue working and take regular lateral flow tests unless they develop symptoms, for health and social care workers the guidance is as follows:

  • If you have been in contact with a positive case at work while wearing PPE, and there has been no breach in the wearing of PPE, this is not considered a close contact.
  • If you have been in close contact with a positive case outside of work, and haven’t had Covid-19 over the last 90 days, you must obtain a PCR test and not return to work unless the test is negative. Following a negative result, you must take a daily lateral flow test for 10 days after the first contact, even on days you are not at work.
  • If you have had Covid-19 in the past 90 days, you shouldn’t have a PCR test but do still need to take the daily lateral flow tests.

Differences in Wales 14/01/2022

There are a number of differences between England and Wales regarding current advice for health and social care workers. In Wales, lateral flow tests need to be taken daily following contact with a positive case for seven days, not 10 as in England. Health and social care workers in Wales also have to take lateral flow tests every day they are working before starting their shift.

A negative test result is required before colleagues can return to work in Wales after day 8, and if they continue to test positive, they must isolate for the full 10 days. The Welsh guidance does not give any advice as to what to do in the event that positive results continue to be returned up to day 14, and so in this case the colleague should contact the contact tracing team to seek further advice.

Importance of booster jabs 14/01/2022

Getting a booster jab against Covid-19 is a very important way of protecting ourselves against the Omicron coronavirus variant. Click here to watch Deborah Sturdy, chief nurse for adult social care in England, explaining this. You can also click here to watch Dr Nikki Kanani MBE explaining how to book your booster jab and emphasising why it is so important, especially if you work in the social care sector.

Don’t delay your jabs 14/01/2022

If you are not yet doubly vaccinated against Covid-19, time is now running short for you to get both jabs before the deadline for colleagues in England of 1st April. As we have said before, please don’t delay having your jabs until the last moment because there are various things that could unexpectedly delay your ability to get vaccinated – such as actually catching Covid-19 which would mean you can’t be vaccinated for 28 days.

Changes to rules in England – but not yet for our colleagues 07/01/2022

The government has updated its guidance for England by removing the need from 11th January for someone without Covid-19 symptoms to obtain a confirmatory PCR test following a positive lateral flow test. Anyone who has symptoms of Covid-19 should still book a PCR test as soon as possible.

However, currently there has been no change to the guidance for health and social care workers and so, until we hear differently, all operations colleagues in England should continue to follow Dimensions guidance on testing and self-isolation after a positive result.

Stricter rules announced in Wales 17/12/2021

The Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has announced that nightclubs will close in Wales from 26th December and social distancing will be reintroduced in shops and workplaces. He also issued new guidance on reducing contact with others, saying “a smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas”. You can read full details here on the Welsh government’s website.

New rules on close contacts, face coverings and venues 17/12/2021

MPs also voted this week to change a number of the rules in England to combat coronavirus. Firstly, fully vaccinated people who come into close contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case now need to take daily lateral flow tests instead of self-isolating.

Secondly, the legal requirement to wear a face covering in most indoor public places in England, including shops, cinemas and places of worship, has been confirmed – although it does not include pubs or restaurants. At Dimensions this now means that face coverings will have to be worn at all times when attending training sessions, and also whenever a colleague is working in a Dimensions office, service or external venue.

Thirdly, new ‘vaccine passport’ rules mean that people will need to prove their vaccination status, or that they have received a negative test result in the last 48 hours, to access venues such as nightclubs or large events.

You can read Access Social Care’s analysis of the legislation enacting these changes by clicking on the relevant link below:

MPs vote to extend vaccination requirement 17/12/2021

As expected, the House of Commons voted this week in favour of legislation that will extend the requirement to be doubly vaccinated against Covid-19 to all health and social care workers in England, and we expect this will take effect from 1st April 2022.

New guidance on visits 10/12/2021

A number of family members of people we support have asked about our rules for visits over Christmas in the light of the current situation. We have prepared comprehensive guidance on visits for both England and Wales which you can download below:

These include a limit of three regular visitors for each person living in a Registered Care Home, plus one designated essential care giver who can continue to visit even if there is a Covid-19 outbreak. The new regulations also state that people who stay away at the homes of family members or friends will now have to self-isolate for 14 days on their return if they are not fully vaccinated or exempt. In short, we are still supporting visits to our services and from our services to the homes of a family member or friend. This has been explained in a new letter to families from Steve Scown.

New letter to families 10/12/2021

As Christmas approaches, many family members have questions about our current rules on visits in the light of the current situation with the pandemic. In order to address these, we are sharing a new open letter to the family members of people we support from Steve Scown. Attached to the letter is our full current guidance on visits, either in England or in Wales, which makes it clear that we are still supporting visits. The guidance also has a helpful summary in bullet points.

Covid passes for the people we support 10/12/2021

Now that NHS Covid passes are required to access some venues, it is important that fully vaccinated people we support have their own pass wherever possible. This can be on paper or on a personal smartphone. We are looking at developing guidance for people we support and colleagues to assist with this.

Booster jabs roll-out speeded up 03/12/2021

In the light of the emergence of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, the government is speeding up its booster roll-out. All adults are to be offered a booster jab before the end of January, and the minimum gap between a second dose and the booster has been halved to three months. Everyone who is currently eligible – including those aged 40 and over, frontline health and social care workers and those at increased risk from the virus due to health conditions – can now book their booster jab, which you can do online here. People not in these groups are being asked to wait until they are invited.

You can read more about the booster roll-out here on the government’s website.

Vaccination rules different in Wales 03/12/2021

In England, it is now illegal to work in or visit a Registered Care Home unless you are fully vaccinated or exempt, and this requirement is being extended to all social care settings from April. However, there are currently no plans to introduce similar rules in Wales. Therefore, the requirement to get vaccinated does not apply to colleagues in Wales. Similarly we are not requiring Welsh colleagues to send in their NHS Covid travel passes. We are, however, still encouraging all colleagues in Wales to get vaccinated, and to get your booster jab when you become eligible.

New rules to combat the Omicron variant 03/12/2021

As you will have seen in the news, the emergence of the new Omicron coronavirus variant has led the government to impose new restrictions in England. From Tuesday this week, face coverings are again mandatory in shops and on public transport (as they already were in Wales) for everyone unless they are medically exempt. Those who are exempt include people who cannot tolerate wearing a face covering due to reasons relating to their disability.

Furthermore, anyone who is identified by NHS Test and Trace as having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the Omicron variant will have to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status or negative test result. All people entering the UK will also have to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival, self-isolating until they receive a negative result.

No changes to rules on visiting 03/12/2021

The recent announcements do not include any new restrictions on visiting Registered Care Homes. The latest government guidance released on 25th November states: “There are no nationally set restrictions on friends and family visiting their loved ones in care homes. We expect and encourage providers to facilitate visits wherever possible, and to do so in a risk-managed way.” Neither has there been any change to rules on visiting people in supported living settings. We are keeping a close eye on the situation and will let you know about any changes to government guidance should they be announced.

Family letter and flowcharts on visiting rules next week 03/12/2021

We are aware that some family members are unclear about what our rules are around visits over the Christmas period in the light of new restrictions. Next week we will be sharing new open letters to families, including flowcharts to explain the rules clearly. There will be different versions for families whose loved one is supported in an English Registered Care Home, in an English supported living service and in Wales.

New guidance on working across services 03/12/2021

The government has issued this refreshed guidance on restricting workforce movement between care homes and other care settings. There is not a great deal of change, and the guidance continues to stress that restricting staff movement remains an important measure to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection. There is greater clarity now regarding which staff should have their routine movement restricted, and the guidance also describes how providers and local authorities may allow staff movement to meet specific service requirements or to alleviate capacity concerns and to ensure continuity of care. Furthermore, there are additional details on how restricting the movement of staff providing direct care will usually be recommended in response to an outbreak in a specific setting so as to avoid ‘seeding’ of outbreaks between settings.

New letter to families 19/11/2021

We have a new open letter to the family members of people we support from Steve Scown. Attached to the letter on page 4 is a bullet point summary of the contents.

On account of the fact that the rules are so different in Wales, we will be making separate arrangements to communicate with family members of people supported by Dimensions Cymru.

New rules take effect in Registered Care Homes 12/11/2021

The new rules on mandatory vaccinations for workers and visitors in Registered Care Homes in England came into effect yesterday (11th November). It is now illegal for anyone who is not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to visit or work in a Registered Care Home unless they are exempt from the rule or a family member or friend of a person who lives there.

Vaccination requirement to be extended to all health and social care workers 12/11/2021

The government announced this week that, following a consultation, it is planning to extend the requirement to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to all health and social care workers in England from 1st April 2022. You may have seen this in the news this week, although the headlines focused only on NHS workers. To be clear, the proposal is to extend the rule to all regulated activity, including supported living.

Guidance issued on the proposed change indicates that the requirement will extend to any worker who “has direct interactions with patients and service users for the purposes of the provision of the regulated activity”, including “those non-clinical ancillary workers who may have direct, face to face contact with patients but are not directly involved in patient care”. This is very wide in scope and at Dimensions we believe it will cover all Business Support colleagues as well as those in direct support roles.

It is expected that the legislation will pass through parliament before Christmas and we will, of course, study the finer details of this. Our Vaccines group is working on the necessary preparations, and our solicitors Anthony Collins are advising us on the employment law aspects of the change.

There are currently no proposals to introduce a mandatory vaccination requirement for any health or social care workers in Wales.

Lateral flow tests still required 22/10/2021

For the avoidance of any doubt, please be aware that all visitors to our shared services still need to have taken a lateral flow test on the day of the visit and receive a negative result before being allowed to enter the home. This includes contractors, family members and visiting colleagues not based at the service. All visitors (including colleagues) will also be required to have their temperature checked before entering (this needs to be below 37.8 degrees Celsius) and will need to follow all infection prevention control measures and wear appropriate PPE. These rules apply to shared supported living services and Registered Care Homes.

Booster and flu jabs 15/10/2021

We continue to encourage all colleagues who are offered a booster Covid-19 vaccination (which should be from 180 days after your second vaccination) and a flu vaccination to have them, and sometimes both are being administered together. We understand that some colleagues are reticent about having a booster jab because they don’t feel it is necessary or they worry about side effects. It is important to bear in mind that immunity against Covid-19 does wane over time, and the impact of fresh waves of Covid-19 together with a resurgence of the flu over the winter would be very significant. Having your booster and flu jabs protects you but it also protects others.

The government has launched a new campaign to urge the general public to have Covid-19 booster and flu jabs when offered them as new research suggests that adults in England are severely underestimating the combined threat of Covid-19 and flu this winter. You can read more about this here on the government’s website.

New letter to families 15/10/2021

We have a new open letter to the family members of people we support from Steve Scown. Importantly, there are two versions for people supported in England – one for families of people who live in Registered Care Homes, and one for everyone else.

Please download the appropriate letter from the options below:

Applying new rules in Registered Care Homes 08/10/21

As previously communicated, from 11th November it will become illegal for anyone to work in or visit a Registered Care Home in England unless they are fully vaccinated or exempt from the regulation. To make sure we are ready for this change in the law, we have been starting to implement the new procedures in Registered Care Homes this week, including by asking all visitors to sign a visitors’ book and reminding them of the new rules which will come in shortly.

We have notified local contractors that the rules come in on 11th November. Therefore, until that date, visiting contractors such as maintenance workers should be reminded about the new regulations but can still be admitted even without proving their vaccination status.

It is also important to reiterate that even after 11th November, family members and friends of people living in a Registered Care Home won’t need to prove their vaccination status because they are legally exempt, but they will still need to sign the visitor’s book.

Living in the same household as someone with Covid-19 01/10/2021

Some confusion has arisen about what to do if you live with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. To clarify, the government’s guidance in England is that fully vaccinated people (and people aged under 18 years and 6 months) who live with someone who has Covid-19 do not need to self-isolate themselves but they should take a PCR test (unless they have tested positive in the last 90 days) and daily lateral flow tests for 10 days after contact with the positive case, and endeavour to stay as far away from other members of their household as possible. When spending time in shared areas, they should wear a face covering and take meals to their room to eat.

In Wales the rules for social care workers are different and stipulate that anyone who lives in the same household as someone with Covid-19 should self-isolate for 10 days regardless of their vaccination status.

Visitors to Registered Care Homes 24/09/2021

Following the change in the law on 11th November, it will also be the case that all visitors to Registered Care Homes who are not permanent members of staff based at that service will have to prove their vaccination or exemption status before entering, and they will also have to sign a visitors’ book. We are implementing this rule from 4th October so that any issues can be ironed out before the law itself changes.

To be clear, it won’t be acceptable for any visitor (including Business Support colleagues, contractors, etc.) to refuse to provide evidence on the grounds of confidentiality. If a visitor says no, they simply will not be allowed inside a Registered Care Home.

Having a Coronavirus vaccine animation

Our Involvement & Engagement team have produced this accessible animation about the Covid-19 vaccine. Watch it below, or on YouTube here.

If you have concerns please speak to your locality manager for updates. You may find the following links helpful:

Families page

Advice, resources and activities

Everybody else, please speak to your usual contact at Dimensions.

If you cannot reach your usual contacts, please complete the contact form here.

This page will be regularly updated.