Information for families
Information for families of people we support can be found here
More general information is listed below.
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.
Booster jabs on the way 17/09/2021
As you may have seen in the news, booster Covid-19 vaccinations will start to be rolled out across the UK from next week for people who have had their second dose of a vaccine more than six months previously. This is because there are some signs that levels of protection against Covid-19 weaken over time. The order of priority for these booster jabs will be the same as in the initial roll-out, which means that clinically extremely vulnerable people and frontline health and social care workers should be offered a booster shortly. Flu vaccinations will also be offered. We will update you as soon as we receive any more information about this.
Registering with the NHS app 17/09/2021
You can prove your Covid-19 vaccination status with the NHS app. If you’re unclear about how to register with it, help is at hand with this handy five-minute video.
CQC: Vaccination of people working in Registered Care Homes 06/09/2021
In their latest newsletter, CQC discuss the changes coming into force on 11th November 2021, when it will become a legal requirement for anyone working or volunteering in a Registered Care Home to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, unless medically exempt.
People we support identified as a close contact 20/08/2021
On Tuesday evening the government issued this guidance which covers what people supported in a care home or “another social care facility” should do if they have been identified as a close contact of someone with Covid-19, including someone they live with. The document states that the same guidance should be followed for those who are fully vaccinated as for members of the general public, “in conjunction with the testing requirements for Health and Social Care workers”. These requirements are set out in the previous item (self-isolation until a negative PCR test result is received followed by daily lateral flow tests for 10 days). We have decided that this guidance should apply to all fully vaccinated people we support in shared supported living settings as well as in Registered Care Homes.
Self-isolation guidance 17/08/2021
From Monday 16th August fully vaccinated people who are identified as a close contact of someone with confirmed Covid-19 will not need to self-isolate as long as they receive a negative PCR test result. This includes health and social care workers (including all of our support colleagues) in England, but they will then also need to take daily lateral flow tests for the next 10 days as an extra precaution. This applies from 16th August even for people already self-isolating on that date.
It is important to note that in both England and Wales, the new process only applies to people who are fully vaccinated, and there is still a legal requirement to self-isolate if you receive a positive PCR test result. Also, social care workers who receive a positive PCR test result will not now be able to return to work until they receive a negative PCR test result.
Access Social Care 17/08/2021
Access Social Care, a charity which upholds the rights of people with learning disabilities by providing legal advice and support to them or their support providers, has seen an increase in referrals since pandemic restrictions were eased.
Beware vaccine passport scammers 17/08/2021
As we have reported previously, unfortunately the pandemic has seen a rise in scam emails, text messages and phone calls. The latest scam we have been made aware of is an email with links that direct you to a fake but convincing ‘NHS’ website where you are asked to pay £4.99 for your ‘digital coronavirus passport’. However, the NHS will never contact you to ask for payment details to obtain an NHS Covid Pass. You can get this for free through the NHS app, or you can request a free printed document proving your vaccination status here on the NHS website.
New self-isolation rules 10/08/2021
Rules on self-isolation are changing shortly in both England and Wales. In England from 16th August, and in Wales from 7th August, people who are fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people under the age of 18 will no longer need to self-isolate if they come into close contact with a positive case. Instead they will be encouraged to take a PCR test (in Wales PCR tests will be recommended on day two and day eight). It is important to note that in both England and Wales, self-isolation rules are not changing for anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated or for anyone who develops Covid-19 symptoms or tests positive for Covid-19.
Effectiveness of the vaccine 10/08/2021
The latest analysis on the direct and indirect impact of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, reported in the government’s vaccine surveillance report, suggests that the vaccines have so far prevented between 21.3 and 22.9 million infections and between 57,500 and 62,700 deaths. These figures go to show just how effective the vaccines are not only in preventing serious illness but also in preventing infections.
Vaccine passports 30/07/2021
There is more and more in the news about so-called vaccine passports becoming part of everyday life, and already people may need to evidence their vaccine status for foreign travel or to attend events. There are two ways to prove that you’re fully vaccinated. The main way is by downloading and using the NHS app – this is not the same as the NHS Covid app used for logging into venues and contact tracing. You will need to go through an automatic process on the NHS app to prove your identity, and after that you will be able to display a QR code on the app or download a PDF document to prove your vaccine status. The other way is to request a printed letter confirming your vaccine status, which is free and will arrive within five working days. You can apply for this by calling 119 or visiting this page on the NHS website.
Compulsory vaccinations a step closer 27/07/2021
On Tuesday the House of Lords approved the legislation that will make it mandatory for all staff in Registered Care Homes in England to be fully vaccinated. The Regulations will shortly be signed by the Secretary of State and this will be followed by a 16-week grace period in which anyone who is not yet vaccinated will have enough time to book and receive both doses before the new rule takes effect – probably in early November. We will be working out the implications for Dimensions over the next few weeks and for now there are no changes.
NHS restrictions remain in place 27/07/2021
Despite the removal of most restrictions, England’s Chief Nurse has reminded the public that everyone accessing or visiting healthcare settings must continue to wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules. Public Health England’s infection prevention control guidelines and hospital visiting guidance are set to remain in place for all staff and visitors. Click here for more information.
Guidance for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable 27/07/2021
The government has issued this new guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from Covid-19 following the ending of almost all legal restrictions in England. People in this category include those with Down’s syndrome, among other conditions. In general the advice is to remain cautious, take normal precautions such as regular hand washing and, critically, to get vaccinated.
Restrictions removed – but infection control measures remain 16/07/2021
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 by visiting our dedicated families page.
Face coverings while out and about 16/07/2021
Although the legal requirement to wear face coverings while on public transport and inside public buildings is to be rescinded in England from Monday, we recommend that all colleagues continue to wear them to reduce risks of infection. If you are supporting someone out and about and will be within two metres of them, it remains a requirement to wear PPE.
Legislation passed on compulsory vaccinations 16/07/2021
As expected, the House of Commons passed legislation on Tuesday to make double vaccination mandatory for all staff at CQC-registered care homes in England, with a few exceptions such as for those who cannot be vaccinated for clinical reasons. You can read more about this here. The legislation will not come into effect just yet, so there are no immediate changes and we are awaiting government guidance on this. We will keep you up to date with any developments. In the meantime please ensure you log any vaccinations on RADAR.
New letter to families 16/07/2021
We have a new open letter to the family members of people we support from Steve Scown. Attached to the letter are a bullet point summary of the letter and a summary of our rules on visits to and from services. 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 on Covid-19 testing 09/07/2021
The government has published this new guidance on coronavirus testing for adult social care workers in England. The document contains some useful charts explaining testing processes in different social care settings, including Registered Care Homes, supported living settings and day care centres. The only significant change from previous advice is that an outbreak in a service is now considered to be over 14 days after the last positive test, rather than 28 days.
Letter from new Health and Social Care Secretary 09/07/2021
The new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, has written this open letter of thanks to social care workers for everything they have done to keep people safe through the pandemic. He writes, “This past 18 months, you’ve all moved mountains to keep people safe. You don’t only have my gratitude, but my word that I will now do everything I can to look out for you.”
At Dimensions we believe strongly that the pandemic has demonstrated without doubt that social care workers deserve fairer pay. To this end, this week we joined the #BetterPay4SocialCare campaign, and we are making the case for fairer pay in a variety of forums – including the social care umbrella group VODG and the Future Social Care Coalition. You can sign a petition demanding better pay for all care workers here.
CQC to publish details of Covid-19 deaths 09/07/2021
The CQC has confirmed that it plans to publish on 21st July details of all Covid-related deaths in Registered Care Homes in England that occurred between 10th April 2020 and 31st March 2021. You can read more about this here on the CQC’s website.
Dispelling vaccine myths 02/07/2021
There are many myths circulating about the Covid-19 vaccines, especially on social media. However the BBC is highlighting one particular claim that a large proportion of those dying with the Delta variant of coronavirus had been vaccinated. Those making this claim use real figures in a misleading way to arrive at the false conclusion that the vaccine may not be working or may even be doing more harm than good. In fact, the vaccines are already estimated to have directly saved 27,000 lives in England and have been shown to be highly effective. You can read more about this here.
Just a minute… 25/06/2021
We would like to let you know about the JAM Card, which allows people with a learning disability, autism or communication barriers to tell others they need ‘Just A Minute’ discreetly and easily. Those with a communication barrier are often reluctant or unable to tell others about their condition, but the JAM Card allows them to ask someone to be patient in a simple non-verbal manner. It is available for free as a plastic card or as a phone app. Click here for more information.
Mandatory vaccinations – no immediate changes 17/06/2021
The government has confirmed that it will introduce legislation to make vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory for all staff in CQC-registered care homes in England (with some limited exemptions). It will also make vaccination mandatory for all visitors to CQC-registered care homes, and will consult on extending this requirement to staff in domiciliary services and the NHS. There are currently no plans to makes these changes in Wales, but that may change. We have yet to see the text of any new law, and this would have to be passed by parliament before taking effect. We will share more details as soon as we have them.
Government delays exit from pandemic restrictions 15/06/2021
As you may have seen in the news, the government has delayed the final removal of restrictions on social gatherings in England, originally planned for 21st June, until 19th July. In Wales, which moved from alert level 2 to alert level 1 on 7th June, there has been no decision yet as to when all restrictions will be removed.
We have said all along that the dates in our own roadmap out of the pandemic would change if the government’s dates changed. Therefore, our Pandemic Emergency Response Team will consider the implications of the decision at its meeting on Thursday.
Out of lockdown and into life 11/06/2021
As lockdown restrictions ease, many colleagues and people we support may experience some anxiety. Our Involvement and Engagement team has produced a great animation particularly for the people we support on how to deal with coming out of lockdown and returning to the things they enjoyed before the pandemic struck. You can view this video on our Youtube Channel here, and we encourage you to share this with the people you support.
Experts answer questions on the vaccine 04/06/2021
The government minister responsible for the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, Nadhim Zahawi, and two of the country’s leading clinical experts, Professor Jonathan Van Tam and Dr Nikita Kanani, have participated in an interactive webinar giving social care workers the chance to ask questions about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. The webinar was recorded and you can watch it here on YouTube. It takes about 48 minutes and is helpful in dispelling some myths about the vaccine.
Local guidelines to be followed 28/05/2021
The government is advising against indoor meetings in areas where the so-called Indian coronavirus variant is spreading fastest, as well as all but essential travel in and out of these areas. Eight areas are currently on the list: Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen, Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside. Some confusion has arisen because the advice is only guidance and not a legal requirement, but we have followed government guidance throughout this pandemic and so we urge anyone living or working in these areas to follow it in this case. This will mean stopping indoor visits in the affected areas and being extra careful when out and about, but colleagues can still travel into or out of these areas to get to work.
Making coronavirus tests more accessible 28/05/2021
We have been working with the Test and Trace team at the Department of Health and Social Care to explore how they can make the process of accessing home PCR coronavirus test kits before planned admission to hospital easier for the people we support. They are asking for feedback from anyone who has had to take a home PCR test before going in to hospital for elective care, so if someone you support has experience of this, please get in touch with Public Affairs Manager Andie Gbedemah (firstname.lastname@example.org).
New guidance on visits 21/05/2021
In the light of the easing of pandemic restrictions earlier this week, we have updated our guidance documents on visits to Registered Care Homes and supported living services, and visits out from supported living services, in England. You can download these documents from the list below. Similar guidance will be applicable to Wales and further details on this will follow.
- Guidance on visits to Registered Care Homes in England from 17th May 2021
- Guidance on visits to supported living settings in England from 17th May 2021
- Guidance on visits from supported living settings in England from 17th May 2021
Our existing guidance on visits from Registered Care Homes continues to apply.
Guidance on support bubbles 21/05/2021
The government has updated its guidance on support bubbles in England following the further easing of restrictions last Monday – you can download it here. The guidance covers questions such as who is eligible to form a support bubble and how you can change your support bubble. It also makes it clear that people can continue to meet in groups larger than six people or two households indoors where this is reasonably necessary for providing care or to attend a support group of up to 30 people.
NHS app 21/05/2021
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 21/05/2021
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.
On to the next stage of the roadmap 14/05/2021
Our Pandemic Emergency Response Team has confirmed that we will move ahead into the next stage of our roadmap out of the pandemic for England on Monday. This means that people we support in Registered Care Homes will be able to have up to five designated regular visitors indoors (not including children), although only two will be able to visit on any one day. Visitors will still need to be tested for coronavirus beforehand and risk assessments will need to be in place. For other people we support, the national rules apply – which means they will be able to have up to five visitors indoors (the Rule of Six includes the person being visited), or more if the visitors are only from two other households. Communal areas in shared supported living settings will also re-open. We will share more comprehensive guidance on visits shortly.
More generally, in England, indoor hospitality venues will re-open and the Rule of Six, or two households, will apply inside – with people allowed to hug. Groups of up to 30 people will be allowed outside, overnight stays in people’s homes or hotels will be permitted, indoor sports and entertainment venues will open and foreign travel to a very limited number of countries will be allowed.
The rules are changing in Wales at the same time and in a very similar way to England. Full details on the easing of restrictions in Wales can be viewed here.
New letter to families 30/04/2021
We have a new open letter to the family members of people we support from Steve Scown. The letter includes summaries in bullet points of both the letter and current visiting rules. 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.
- Letter to families of people supported by Dimensions in England
- Letter to families of people supported by Discovery in Somerset
For people we support recovering from Covid-19 30/04/2021
We would like to share two videos produced by the NHS for people with learning disabilities who are recovering from Covid-19 or suffering from ‘long Covid’:
Updated guidance on visits from Registered Care Homes 26/04/2021
Following the easing of restrictions in England and new guidance issued by the government, we have produced this new guidance on when and how to facilitate visits of people we support from a Registered Care Home to their family’s home. The guidance makes it clear that outdoor visits are still preferable, but that there are cases in which an indoor visit to a family home can be supported following a risk assessment and with infection control measures in place. This could be for a few hours or overnight, if supported by the risk assessment.
This guidance does not cover short trips outside, such as to the shops, and it only applies to Registered Care Homes. For people in supported living settings, the rules on visits to other people’s homes are the same as for the general population.
This guidance replaces the guidance previously shared below.
New guidance on visits to services 16/04/2021
Following the latest easing of restrictions in England on Monday, we have issued this new guidance on visits by family members and friends to people we support, which starts with a summary of the key points. People who live in Registered Care Homes are now allowed up to two designated regular visitors indoors, and we are also allowing two designated visitors indoors for the people we support in shared supported living if they cannot meet outdoors and if not having visitors indoors would cause them distress. These visits must be risk assessed and will require all visitors taking a rapid coronavirus test and receiving a negative result before the visit takes place. We are continuing to encourage outdoor visits, including to back gardens, wherever possible.
Vaccinations and tests during Ramadan 16/04/2021
The holy month of Ramadan began on Monday evening. During this month Muslims fast during daylight hours, which includes abstaining from eating and drinking. Some Muslims also refrain from smoking, taking medicine and chewing gum during the fast because they understand fasting to mean that nothing may enter the body, and some observers have taken this to include receiving vaccines or taking a coronavirus test.
The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) has issued statements reassuring Muslims that taking Covid-19 tests or receiving a vaccination during the fast is permitted. Their view is that neither involves nutrition entering the blood and that, therefore, neither can be construed as breaking the fast. This is also the learned opinion of many Islamic scholars. More information is available here on the BIMA website, and we would also like to share this presentation from Wokingham Council which deals with a number of related issues from the perspective of the Muslim community.
Vaccination booking service halted 09/04/2021
The English National Booking Service for the Covid-19 vaccinations was suspended at the start of this month for all non-NHS health and care professionals. Support workers and family carers who have not booked their first vaccination yet can no longer use it, so if this applies to you and you wish to get vaccinated, you should contact your GP. GPs have been advised that they should support care workers who come forward for vaccines.
A number of sector bodies, including VODG which Dimensions is a member of, have signed a joint letter to the Secretary of State urging the government to reintroduce access to the National Booking Service for all social care workers.
Rules in Wales 09/04/2021
Our roadmap out of the pandemic only applies to England because the rules and timeline are slightly different in Wales. There is currently no confirmed date for when it is hoped all restrictions will be removed in Wales, and every stage of the process is contingent on a review process. There will be an easing of restrictions on Monday, and the current situation and plans for the next stage of the roadmap are detailed here on the Welsh government’s website. The Welsh government has also produced this guidance for supported living (you may need to copy and paste the link into your browser). We are encouraging risk-assessed garden visits to our services in Wales, and for the people we support in self-contained accommodation, we are continuing to facilitate support bubbles.
Clarification on visiting rules 02/04/2021
Now that limited outdoor gatherings are allowed in England, we would like to clarify certain points about the current rules governing visits to people we support. The rules are different in Wales and we will provide clarification on these shortly.
Currently all the people we support can receive visitors outside, including in a private garden, and there is no need to designate anyone as a regular visitor for outdoors visits. The only rules that apply are that gatherings are limited to six people (or two households of any size) and that people of different households should maintain social distancing. Colleagues who are providing support to someone during an outdoor visit do not count towards the maximum number of people who can gather. For outdoor visits, including in gardens, no coronavirus test is needed and PPE only needs to be worn if social distancing won’t be possible.
People who live in a Registered Care Home can also receive a visit indoors by a single designated regular visitor, as long as the visitor returns a negative lateral flow coronavirus test before entering and wears full PPE. While this rule does not apply to supported living, it may still be possible to facilitate visits indoors to people in shared supported living services but, as before, this is determined by individual risk-based assessments and can only go ahead if it is deemed that not allowing such a visit would be distressing for the person we support.
The new rules have no effect on support bubbles. This means that a person we support who lives alone is eligible to form a support bubble with one other household, or maintain a support bubble where it has already been in place.
Understanding the current rules 02/04/2021
In England the government’s roadmap out of the pandemic is now being implemented, but it can be difficult to remember exactly which rules now apply. To help, the government has produced this poster which clearly explains the rules that apply to the current period following the easing of some restrictions on 29th March.
Free rapid coronavirus tests available 19/03/2021
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.
Useful factsheets from Access Social Care 19/03/2021
The charity Access Social Care has produced a range of helpful factsheets for social care workers during the pandemic. They cover topics ranging from understanding the current restrictions to mental capacity and welfare benefits. You can find them here.
Zoom calls for families 19/03/2021
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 (open from 9.30am to 1.30pm, Monday to Friday) on 0300 303 9161 or at email@example.com.
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.
New letter to family members 12/03/2021
We have a new open letter to the family members of people we support in England from Steve Scown explaining the new rules on visits. The full and updated guidance on visits is also attached to the letter.
Updated guidance on visits 12/03/2021
The government has announced that, from 8th March 2021, people who live in Registered Care Homes in England will be allowed one regular visitor indoors. The visitor will be allowed to hold hands with the person they are visiting, but they will be required to wear PPE and to take a coronavirus test before entry.
To reflect these changes we have updated our guidance on visits to our Registered Care Homes and shared supported living services in England. Very briefly, the guidance states that People we support in Registered Care Homes can receive regular visits indoors. People in shared supported living can only meet a family member or friend outside in a public open space for now, although we are expecting new guidance for supported living shortly. This guidance on visits currently only applies to Registered Care Homes.
People we support and Learning Disability Registers 12/03/2021
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.
Our roadmap out of the pandemic 09/03/2021
We are very pleased to share with you today 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.
Having a Coronavirus vaccine animation 04/03/2021
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:
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.