Buckinghamshire Council Newsletter (4 May 2020)

COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes
The 134 care homes in Buckinghamshire play a vital role in looking after many of our vulnerable resident and they are currently facing unprecedented challenges. We have confirmed outbreaks in 32 (24%) Buckinghamshire care homes. Much of our work is now focused on managing this, so the council is offering care homes more support. This includes infection control and PPE, testing, medicine management, HR support, communication with service users and their families, resources for mental health, wellbeing and bereavement, and equipment and technology. We also have a team of staff ready to go into care homes to support services. Details can be found on our website of all the support the council is offering to providers of care and support.

Testing update
Frontline workers in a hospital, care setting, school or front line service such as transportation or refuse collection, or their family member, can now ask to be tested at a National Testing Centre. The person being tested must be showing Covid-19 symptoms and the test must be done between two and four days after the first symptoms appear. Our closest national testing centres are at Thornhill Park and Ride in Oxford and South Second Street Car Park in Milton Keynes. These sites are open 7 days a week. For those unable to travel to a National Testing Centre, we are grateful for the support of Buckinghamshire NHS Healthcare Trust (BHT) in testing frontline workers, where there is a risk of a service stopping or a direct risk to those who receive the service.

In addition to testing for frontline staff and their families with symptoms, the government has announced that all staff and residents in care homes will be able to access testing regardless or not of whether they are showing symptoms. We are currently anticipating further guidance from the Government on how this will be implemented and will provide an update as soon as possible.

Staying in touch
The council’s ‘Staying in touch’ team continues to make contact with vulnerable adult social care clients across the county. Since the service started on 6 April, 30 trained volunteers and 40 staff have made over 10,000 telephone calls to more than 900 vulnerable residents. We have had positive feedback from family members saying it gives her “a feeling of not being alone” and “it makes a world of difference”.

Business grants – could your business qualify?

We have now paid out a massive £63.5 million in grants to Buckinghamshire small businesses and those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, to help them meet expenses while incomes are severely curtailed during this crisis. Our team has worked tirelessly to process what is approaching 5,000 applications in a very short space of time. Grants are still available from this funding to local businesses who qualify – please keep helping us to spread the word and guide businesses to the information about these grants on our website.

Cabinet, committee memberships, and community board chairmen announced

Buckinghamshire Council at a meeting on Thursday confirmed its 17 Cabinet members until May 2021, as well as the membership of council committees and the names of chairmen for the new Community Boards.  Find full details on our website.

Our #ProudofBucks campaign on social media is highlighting some of the wonderful work going on across the county to support residents, especially the most vulnerable. This week we’ve heard about a community bus which has been retasked to deliver groceries from village residents to keep local foodbanks topped up. We’ve celebrated Gerrards Cross Support Group coping with a doubling of demand for its services, and shared with residents how some of the council’s own staff have been redeployed to work in support hubs and care homes, to coordinate food supplies or to stay in touch by phone with vulnerable residents. We’ve highlighted the efforts of Dean Jones, Nick Hughes and the University of Buckingham in teaming up to create protective face masks for a care home. If you have other great stories of community spirit, please let us know using #ProudofBucks on social media (@BucksCouncil on TwitterInstagramFacebook).

Support for patients and families during COVID-19 
Whilst families are unable to visit loved ones currently ill in hospital, Buckinghamshire NHS Healthcare Trust is putting support in place to reduce stress and help people keep in touch.  This includes sending a letter to a loved one and having virtual visits by video call, for which the Trust has secured additional iPads.  Find out more about their services here.  

Content of recent video blogs
Recent guests on council Leader Cllr Martin Tett’s video blogs have included Sophia Hobbs from Bucks MIND on practical ways to look after our mental health, including some specific advice for children and families. We also heard from Graham Wakeman from charity Restore Hope Latimer about how they are working with partners to reach as many vulnerable families as possible. The council’s own Corporate Director for Resources, Sarah Murphy-Brookman, explained how staff whose usual roles are not classed as ‘essential’ during the lockdown are moving to support critical services during the crisis. Find all of the video updates here. 

Garden and bulky waste collections to resume 11 May
Green waste collections across the county will restart from 11 May – these had been suspended due to staff shortages caused by Covid-19. We are also preparing to re-open five of our nine household waste sites as soon as the government gives the green light nationally. The reopened sites will be those best able to deal with queuing vehicles: Amersham, Aston Clinton, Beaconsfield, Buckingham and High Heavens in High Wycombe. We will also be reinstating bulky waste collection service across the county. For more information please visit the waste page on our website

VE Day 75th anniversary
Organisations across Buckinghamshire had planned activities to mark this Friday (8 May) the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day which of course can no longer go ahead. So instead, we are taking the commemorations online on the bank holiday Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with the council’s social media pages sharing stories, photos, videos – and even some special performances – to mark the day. We are also providing resources and suggestions for how to mark the day safely, on the council website. 
If your organisation will be marking the date, help us to keep a record of what is happening by sharing the details with archives@buckinghamshire.gov.uk.


Buckinghamshire Council