Relevance of this theme
Successful local outbreak control measures will rely on people self-isolating when asked to do so. This may be as a symptomatic case, a close contact, or someone with a clinical, or other, vulnerability that means they must stay at home to reduce their potential exposure to coronavirus. Some people will have no problem in doing this, through the help of friends or family. However, others may require external support with everyday needs such as food, care, medicines and income.
Additionally, there are a range of people who may be particularly negatively impacted by a period of self-isolation, such as children at risk of violence or with special education needs, victims of domestic abuse and rough sleepers.
Some groups within our community are also at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, mainly due to an underlying clinical condition. These groups were highlighted in Chapter 3: Prevention and Response Plans for Places and Communities, along with preventative measures and outbreak management strategies.
A summary of this range of groups is set out in Appendix 1 This is based on the national COVID-19 guidelines and also on the PHE review of ‘Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19’.
Reasons why we need to ensure that the groups in Appendix 1 can access support to self-isolate safely
Self-isolation is an important tool in the control of COVID-19 outbreaks, and requires cases and their contacts to follow advice on when, and for how long, to stay at home, applying careful distancing and shielding if necessary. There are a number of reasons to support particular groups of people in our communities when self-isolating:
- People may need help with help to access food, medicines and other practical support, as they may not have friends or family who are able to help at a particular moment (for example because they are contacts, who are also having to self-isolate). Without this support, they may experience health impacts purely from isolation, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 or not.
- If they need help, but don't receive it, people may be forced to break their isolation (for example, to buy food or obtain medicines) and potentially expose other people to infection with coronavirus.
- People being asked to apply the highest levels of caution may experience negative impacts from isolation, particularly those who have already experience more isolation, because of their particular social, personal or health conditions. National research from UCL shows that during the Spring 2020 lockdown period, prevalence of anxiety and depression were higher than normal, and many people have felt isolated, some with thoughts of death. This has especially been the case for younger people, people on low incomes and people with a mental illness. Additionally, people become at higher risk of domestic abuse or withdrawal from daily drug use, and these needs require support.
Description of the response so far in supporting vulnerable groups in B&NES
Update: support for self isolation
Steps we have taken
We have seen our ground-breaking Community Wellbeing Hub offer a range of support services through a single helpline and triage process. The Hub has
Received 11,900 calls into the Triage team
Resolved 69% of calls at the first point of contact
Delivered 639 food parcels to residents in B&NES, supporting 803 people
Seeing 3SG volunteers recruit 2121 volunteers and complete 3634 volunteer tasks
- The Hub has led on the support for those required to shield as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) through each of the lockdowns and those self-isolating longer term. The total CEV population for B&NES is around 10,800. B&NES Council has written to all CEV residents (excluding those in care homes) signposting to the support available through the Hub, with 535 individuals directly offered support following their registration on NSSS, and a further 45 individuals requiring additional support for food, mental health, home from hospital and Citizens Advice
Continuing to provide support for self-isolating and CEV residents
The core of the B&NES response to the needs of vulnerable people has been provided by the very rapid and successful development of the Compassionate Community hub.
Virgin Care and B&NES 3SG (who represent Third Sector Organisations) have come together, alongside B&NES council and the CCG, to offer an advice and support hub. Compassionate Communities is a B&NES-wide movement recognising the people and organisations supporting each other who can step in, as and when needed, with actual or virtual support.
The Compassionate Community hub seeks to assist people who are in need of help in the community, including those who have are self-isolating or shielding because of high clinical risk from coronavirus. The hub has combined resources to ensure that, as a service, they are able to provide sustainable and appropriate responses to meet community needs. This includes access to over 2,500 volunteers who have been recruited, checked and trained by 3SG.
The following are examples of support that has been provided:
- collection of a prescription
- accessing a coronavirus test
- provision of emergency food parcels
- provision of gas or electricity meter top-up
- calling and befriending those suffering from anxiety and loneliness
- providing advice to stay fit and healthy
- providing advice on money or employment rights
- transportation to medical appointments
- provisiding advice on your housing situation
- clarifying government guidelines
The support line is accessed by calling 0300 247 0050, and help is prioritised for people who have limited support through other routes, such as friends or family.
Description of the LA's relationship with, and responsibilities to, the different types of providers in this setting
B&NES council, alongside the B&NES Locality of BSW CCG, commissions Virgin Care to provide (or sub-contract) a wide range of community health and care services.
The focus of this theme will be maintaining and developing this model of support for vulnerable people during periods of isolation, recognising that such needs may continue for many months during which other health and care services will seek to re-start or re-normalise services that have been curtailed during the first wave of the outbreak.
COVID-19 and the response to it has meant many people have lost incomes, businesses have closed and the future of some parts of community life is uncertain. These issues are being dealt with as part of the district’s wider renewal plans and so are not included in this more specific local outbreak control plan.