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GMB All Social Care Noticeboard

GMB has been working to ensure you are protected throughout this unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 UPDATE FOR SOCIAL CARE WORKERS IN ENGLAND

Date: 14/11/2021

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

GMB continues to have concerns about the safety of our members in the workplace, specifically regarding PPE. We continue to hear reports of PPE that is low in quality and protection. GMB has consistently called on Government to review Public Health England guidance and increase the level of protection available to our members working in health and social care.

This issue is a priority more than ever now as we see the effects of a new strain of the virus with higher transmission rates. The Government have a responsibility to do everything in their power now to protect workers.

GMB has contacted Government again calling on them to increase PPE guidance to level 3 for all health and social care workers who need it.

READ A COPY OF OUR PRESS STATEMENT & LETTER HERE

 

COVID-19 VACCINATION – ENGLAND

New operational guidance has now been issued regarding the vaccination of frontline health and social care workers. This provides for an immediate requirement to vaccinate frontline health and social care workers.

NHS Trusts (including acute, mental health, community and ambulance trusts) have now been instructed to establish ‘hospital hubs’ by mid-January with responsibility for vaccination of individuals. It outlines that priority is to be given to frontline staff at ‘high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment. This includes:

  • frontline social care workers directly working with vulnerable people who need care and support irrespective of where they work (for example in hospital, people’s own homes, day centres, or supported housing); or who they are employed by (for example local government, NHS, independent sector or third sector).

GMB supports the vaccination programme and the prioritisation of all health and social care workers. However, we understand there may be reasons why an individual cannot be vaccinated. Individuals should discuss any issues or concerns they have with their line manager and contact your local GMB Representative for support if required.

The Government have published detailed information regarding the vaccine for social care workers which we would advise our members to read. It can be accessed at:

COVID-19 vaccination: a guide for social care staff - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Guidance has also been issued for women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding. It can be accessed at:

COVID-19 vaccination: a guide for women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

GMB attends weekly stakeholder meetings with the Department of Health and Social Care to discuss the national vaccine programme and will ensure you are aware of developments and further advice when it becomes available.

GMB’s priority remains in keeping our members safe at work which is why throughout the Pandemic we have been regularly updating our Coronavirus Hub with all the information you need to keep yourself safe.

Get It Right! GMB Coronavirus Hub

If you have concerns that you may have contracted Covid-19 in the workplace, please record your details on the GMB COVID-19 Risk Register

 

SOCIAL CARE NOTICEBOARDS

You can read and share the latest guidance and advice for social care members on the GMB websites dedicated noticeboards. Please keep checking regularly for updates.

 

UNION VISITS TO YOUR WORKPLACE

It will be many months before we see a return to any form of ‘normality’. Covid-19 will still present a danger to social care workers and the people you care for. As a result, it means that your GMB Union Representatives may continue to have difficulties visiting you in your workplaces.

However, we want you to know that we are still here. We are considering a variety of ways that we can get information to you and engage with you on your issues in the workplace. One way to do this is to arrange a virtual online meeting for your workplace. If you would like to book one of these please contact your local GMB representative or email PublicServices@gmb.org.uk

 

ARE YOUR CONTACT DETAILS CORRECT?

It is essential that your membership details are up to date so that we can ensure you are kept up to date with advice and guidance relevant to you.

You can update your details by contacting your local GMB Representative or online using the GMB website at gmb.org.uk/mygmb-edit

 

Not a GMB Member? Join today gmb.org.uk/join

 More information about being a GMB Representative in your workplace

Follow and like our Facebook Page – GMB Social Care

Follow us on Twitter - @GMBSocialCare

 

Past Bulletins

Date: 12/01/2021

GMB Letter to Secretary of State for Health & Social Care

GMB have written to Matt Hancock raising our members' concerns around the current guidance for PPE in Health & Social Care settings.

Our suggestions included:

"...specifying higher performance face coverings and masks, this should particularly be considered in settings where people are more vulnerable to the consequences of the disease and/or are more likely to be infectious."

"...engineering, procedural and personal controls... [to be] applied rigorously to ensure they are effective."

"Organisations and individuals should reassess their environments in the light of new evidence about transmissibility of the new variant to consider whether they have maximised all the steps they can take to reduce the probability of transmission."

The full letter is available to read here, we will update the noticeboard in the event we recieve a response.

 

Date: 11/01/2021

HCMS Covid 19 Remuneration Guide

The healthcare employer has released it's remuneration guide for permitted and paid absence including furlough, sickness, and self-isolation after testing.

Read the full guide here

 

Date: 06/01/2021

TESTING

Government have committed an additional £149 million to increase Covid-19 testing in care homes. The money will be distributed by local authorities to care homes in their areas. This money is to be used to ensure staff are tested twice per week with rapid tests - this is in addition to the weekly PCR tests that you should already be having. Twice weekly rapid testing of staff will assist care providers that have to move staff between care homes due to staffing levels.

The funding can also be used to help care homes in Tiers 1, 2 and 3 with costs arising from facilitating visits from family and friends.

 

VACCINATION

Social care residents and care workers are to be prioritised for vaccinations. GPs have been asked to prioritise care home residents and staff out of their supplies of the vaccine and have been encouraged to administer vaccines in care home settings before the end of January. There should be 12 weeks maximum between first and second dose - both doses must be from the same vaccine type.
 

Your employer should be communicating with you on this with details of how you will be able to access the vaccine. If you have any concerns please speak with your local GMB Representative.


NHS England have a dedicated webpage where you can access all the latest information on the vaccine programme - Coronavirus » COVID-19 vaccination programme (england.nhs.uk)

Statistics regarding the numbers of vaccinations will also be regularly updated at - Statistics » COVID-19 Vaccinations (england.nhs.uk)

 

RISK ASSESSMENTS

Employers must carry out a risk assessment, looking specifically at risks of exposure to Covid-19. All steps must be taken to reduce the risk of employees catching the virus to as low as possible. Risk assessments must be carried out by a ‘competent’ person – someone who knows and understands both the workplace and the work. In GMB recognised workplaces, we expect Safety Reps to be consulted on any risk assessment carried out.

Once the risk assessment is performed and the necessary measures are in place, it is critical that the standards are upheld, and the risk assessment regularly reviewed to ensure it is still accurate. During the current Covid pandemic, the situation is changing regularly and dramatically, and three months is too long between inspections and meetings. GMB firmly believes that inspections should be much more frequent, and specific to consider primarily Covid issues.

For most workplaces, a weekly inspection and committee meeting should be implemented, to ensure that any issues identified can be urgently addressed. In some workplace where either the Covid risk is high, or workers are grouped into many cohorts (small teams), it may be better to organise daily floor walks, so that cohorts do not have to mix. Whichever method is adopted, the most important consideration is that issues can be quickly identified and addressed, and the information can be quickly shared with the workforce.  

GMB expects employers to be updating risk assessments in consideration of the new variants of the virus. Please speak to your local GMB Rep if you have concerns about risk assessments in your workplace.

 

GMB’s priority remains in keeping our members safe at work which is why throughout the Pandemic we have been regularly updating our Coronavirus Hub with all the information you need to keep yourself safe. You can check it out at: Get It Right | The Coronavirus Hub | GMB

If you have concerns that you may have contracted Covid-19 in the workplace, please record your details on the GMB Risk Register at: COVID-19 Risk Register | GMB

 

SOCIAL CARE NOTICEBOARDS

You can read and share the latest guidance and advice for social care members on the GMB websites dedicated noticeboards. Please keep checking regularly for updates.

 

UNION VISITS TO YOUR WORKPLACE

It will be many months before we see a return to any form of ‘normality’. Covid-19 will still present a danger to social care workers and the people you care for. As a result, it means that your GMB Union Representatives may continue to have difficulties visiting you in your workplaces.

However, we want you to know that we are still here. We are considering a variety of ways that we can get information to you and engage with you on your issues in the workplace. One way to do this is to arrange a virtual online meeting for your workplace. If you would like to book one of these please contact your local GMB representative or email PublicServices@gmb.org.uk

 

ARE YOUR CONTACT DETAILS CORRECT?

It is essential that your membership details are up to date so that we can ensure you are kept up to date with advice and guidance relevant to you.

You can update your details by contacting your local GMB Representative or online using the GMB website at gmb.org.uk/mygmb-edit

 

Not a GMB Member? Join today gmb.org.uk/join

 More information about being a GMB Representative in your workplace?

Follow and like our Facebook Page – GMB Social Care

Follow us on Twitter - @GMBSocialCare

 

 

Date: 21/12/20

END OF YEAR ROUND UP

 

As the year comes to an end, GMB Union wants to thank all social care members for their hard work and efforts during the year and for their continued membership with GMB.

This year has been extremely difficult for everyone, but especially for all those who continued to work throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic providing essential services within our social care system.  We have had to collectively fight from the start of Covid-19 to ensure our members were protected – physically, mentally and financially.

We have made many representations to Ministers and the Department of Health & Social Care, ensuring they knew the reality of what our members were facing on the frontline.

We have had some successes throughout the year which include:

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for social care workers in residential care who had initially been excluded from Public Health England and government guidance. GMB and other Unions campaigned to make sure you had access to the PPE needed to keep you safe at work.
  • Influenced the government’s taking back central control of the logistics for delivery and supply of PPE which included ensuring social care received essential equipment.
  • Free car parking for social care workers.
  • Government funding to pay full and normal pay for residential social care staff who were off work due to Covid-19.
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payable from day one, instead of day four of sickness.
  • Inclusion in the Furlough Scheme for vulnerable social care workers.
  • Access to regular testing.
  • Death in Service Life Assurance Scheme for Covid-19 deaths.

It is without doubt that all social care workers have been consistently failed throughout Covid-19 and that is why GMB will not stop calling for an independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Pandemic. Unfortunately, that inquiry will come too late for the hundreds of health and social care workers who have lost their lives.

GMB’s priority remains in keeping our members safe at work which is why throughout the Pandemic we have been regularly updating our Coronavirus Hub with all the information you need to keep yourself safe.

GMB Coronavirus Hub

If you have concerns that you may have contracted Covid-19 in the workplace, please record your details on the GMB Risk Register. 

COVID-19 Risk Register

 

Covid-19 Vaccination

It is with great relief that some of our elderly population have now been vaccinated. It will take many months for people in the prioritised categories to be vaccinated but we hope to see the vaccination programme roll out speedily and efficiently over the coming months.

Health and social care workers have been identified as a priority group of workers to be vaccinated and we have already started to see some social care staff be vaccinated, although the vast majority will not have access until the New Year.

GMB supports the Covid-19 vaccination programme and would encourage our members to have both the Flu and Covid-19 vaccination. However, this is not mandatory, and we understand that some of our members are not able to be vaccinated e.g. for health reasons; pregnancy; etc. We therefore would expect that no member suffers a financial detriment as a result of not being vaccinated. If you have any concerns regarding this, please speak with your local GMB Representative.

 

Mental Health in Social Care

A mental health crisis is looming within social care. This comes after years of austerity and cuts to services. The inability of the care sector to recruit and retain staff led to a 110,000+ vacancy crisis prior to Covid-19. Almost a year of fighting Covid-19, with little or no time to rest and recover before we headed into the second wave and winter has left many social care staff unable to cope.

Thank you to those who took part in the recent GMB mental health survey. We would now like to ask you some more questions so we can understand what we need to do next in this crucial area for our social care members. You can complete the survey online at gmb.org.uk/mhCARE 

COMPLETE THE SURVEY

If you are struggling, please speak out.

Mental Health Resources

 

Are your contact details correct?

It is essential that your membership details are up to date so that we can ensure you are kept up to date with developments in social care issues relevant to you.

You can update your details by contacting your local GMB Representative or online using the GMB website.

 

Union Visits to your Workplace

It will be many months before we see a return to any form of ‘normality’. Covid-19 will still present a danger to social care workers and the people you care for. As a result, it means that your GMB Union Representatives may continue to have difficulties visiting you in your workplaces. However, we want you to know that we are still here. We are considering a variety of ways that we can get information to you and engage with you on your issues in the workplace. One way to do this is to arrange a virtual online meeting for your workplace. If you would like to book one of these please contact your local GMB representative or email PublicServices@gmb.org.uk

 

GMB Representative Taster Sessions

Have you ever been interested in the role of GMB Representative in your workplace but unsure whether you have the skills or can commit the time? Why not join one of our Social Care Rep Taster Sessions? If you’re interested, email PublicServices@gmb.org.uk and we will be in touch with more details.

 

Lee Mead – Exclusive Ticket Giveaway

Lee Mead is best known for winning the title role in the 2007 West End revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat through the BBCs show ‘Any Dream Will Do’. He is also known for starring in Casualty and Holby City.

As a thank you to GMB key workers he is giving away 1000 tickets to his 2021 tour in England and Wales. You can enter the ballot to win two tickets at: https://bit.ly/3oUK0zj

 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

The Pandemic is far from over as we continue through the second wave of Covid-19 and face the winter pressures. GMB will continue to be by your side throughout.

We hope that you get some time over the Christmas holidays to rest and spend time with your families and loved ones. We wish you and your families a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

GMB Social Care on Facebook - Twitter - @GMBSocialCare

 

Date: 06/11/20

FLU VACCINATION 2020

This year due to the Coronavirus Pandemic (Covid-19), free flu vaccinations are being made available to all health and social care workers.

As in previous years, GMB Union supports the campaign. Ensuring health and social care workers are vaccinated will assist in our collective efforts to reduce the risks of spreading infections. This is especially important in social care in order to protect the people you care for, as well as to protect yourself.

Vaccinations are just one way to reduce the impact of flu on the NHS and within social care settings. However, we fully support our members’ choice on this issue and would not support it becoming mandatory. Social care staff have the right to make their own choice about whether or not to be vaccinated, without fear of being pressurised or bullied.  Staff should be protected from any detriment as a result of refusing to be vaccinated.

If you have concerns about any of the above, you should speak immediately with your local GMB Representative.

 

TRACK & TRACE ADVICE (ENGLAND)

Revised guidance has been published by the Government, ‘Covid-19: Management of staff and exposed patients or residents in health and social care settings.’

In summary, social care settings are effectively out of the scope of Test and Trace in terms of contact tracing under this new guidance. This means that if you come into close contact with a resident or service user who tests positive for Covid-19, you will be exempt from the requirements to self-isolate for 14 days, on the presumption that you would have been wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). However, where members are in close contact without PPE being worn, then GMB believes that this should still be considered as close contact – examples could include in rest areas and on breaks.

GMB Union has concerns about the introduction of these rules and believe they have been introduced to stop whole care homes having to close because all staff are self-isolating. The exposure risk still exists when facemasks and PPE are not being worn, so any reports of close contacts under these circumstances should be taken seriously and acted upon.

If you have any concerns regarding this, please speak to your local GMB Representative.

Check out the GMB Coronavirus Hub for all the up to date advice on your rights and keeping safe at work.

 

JOIN GMB’S PAY JUSTICE CAMPAIGN!

PPE & A WINTER PLAN IN SOCIAL CARE - COVID-19 

The Government recently published their Winter Plan for Social Care which places responsibility on your employer to provide you a safe place of work and full sick pay for any Covid-19 related absence. 

These responsibilities include: 

Access government funding for infection, prevention and control measures to pay full sick pay for all staff who have to take time off work due to Covid-19 reasons. 

  • Restrict all, but essential, movement of staff between care homes. 
  • Access free PPE stocks and ensure all staff have the appropriate PPE in line with current guidance.
  • Implement Covid-19 policies to include: 
  1. Undertaking a learning review after an outbreak.
  2. PPE policy on appropriate use, supply, reporting shortages, etc.  
  3. Training for all care staff on infection, prevention and control.  
  4. Identified a lead for infection, prevention and control for Covid-19.  
  5. Guidance for staff who may have to self-isolate.  
  6. Limiting staff movement between care homes unless absolutely necessary.  
  7. Guidance for staff on how to access testing.  
  8. Policy on new admissions.  
  9. Policy on visits to the care home.  
  • Undertake individual risk assessments for all staff who are at increased risk. (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, people that have been shielding, pregnant workers, etc.)  

If your employer is not doing any of the above, you need to report this to your GMB Rep.  

Please contact your GMB Rep directly for full details and support. 

Full Sick Pay 

GMB has been campaigning for full sick pay to be a contractual right for all social care workers. The recent success in this campaign is that the Government have provided additional funded to enable your employer to pay full sick pay for Covid-19 related absences. 

However, for us to succeed in securing full sick pay all year round and for all illnesses – we need your support.

SIGN THE PETITION

Once you have signed the petition, please share it with you work colleagues and share on your social media pages. 

Personal Protective Equipment 

The issue of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in social care has been one of the huge problems faced by GMB members working in social care during the Coronavirus Pandemic. The social care workforce were originally excluded from Government and Public Health England Guidance. The GMB was successful in getting this guidance amended.  

READ THE FULL GUIDANCE

The NHS was asked by the Department of Health & Social Care to assist social care settings in the training of Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC), which will include training for staff on the appropriate use of PPE.

Guidance was amended again on 21st May 2020 and can be accessed here:

AMMENDED GUIDANCE

Key points to note are: 

  • Gloves and aprons should be used for single use only and disposed after each service user / resident contact. 

  • Sessional use means 1 worker, 1 shift. 

  • Gowns or coveralls can be used for an entire session of work in higher risk areas, but staff should not move between Covid and no-Covid areas. 

  • Fluid repellant surgical masks (FRSM) and eye protection can be used for an entire session of work. 

  • PPE must be changed when moving between Covid Positive and Non-Positive residents / service users. 

  • Any PPE that is suitable for reuse (in cases of extreme shortages) is to be reused by that individual only and not shared amongst workers, with appropriate cleaning performed after each use. A detergent product either combined / sequentially with a decontamination product should be used to clean the item, rinsed thoroughly and left to dry. 

  • Reusable face masks should be carefully folded so the outer surface is held inwards and should be stored in a clean sealable bag / box marked with the persons name. Fit checks should be performed each time a respirator is donned if it is reused.  

  • Hand hygiene should be practiced and extended to exposed forearms, after the removal of PPE. 

  • All staff should adhere to social distancing (2 meters) wherever possible, particularly if not wearing PPE and in non-clinical communal areas. 

It is essential that all social care staff wear the appropriate PPE. When doing so, staff are reminded that they are entitled to take regular breaks and rest periods, ensuring that you increase your fluid intake. Breaks should be staggered to limit the numbers of staff in communal rest areas.

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