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Like you and your offices, the County Council has received a large number of questions regarding the current situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19), especially around the impact on front line services. We intend to send you weekly briefings with this one as an initial summary of key areas of current focus:

  1. Local Resilience Forum (LRF) Arrangements and Response

Hertfordshire has well established and experienced LRF arrangements, bringing together senior representatives from public services (including NHS) across the county, chaired by Darryl Keen, the county’s Chief Fire Officer. The LRF set up a Strategic Co-ordinating Group (SCG) to lead the COVID-19 response a few weeks ago and is meeting (via conference call) 3 times per week.

  • This is the key forum to assess the latest circumstances and review county wide issues, including considering specific priorities or support needs. The SCG has also now established an additional Local Resilience Group to look specifically at co-ordinating and empowering the massive work being mobilised alongside the voluntary sector and community groups to support those who need the most help at home. (see also point 3 below).
  1. Adult Social Care and the NHS

We have set up a social care provider hub to support adult care providers. The hub provides a Coronavirus Support Line and email for Hertfordshire Care Providers, with regularly updated FAQs for providers on the Hertfordshire Care Providers Association (HCPA) website here >>>

We have increased levels of cleaning in all our settings, including day services and supported living and have stopped some services to focus on the most important areas.

We are already spending the additional money allocated by the Chancellor to prioritise support to hospitals by looking to enable as many people as possible to come home from hospital or to go to an alternative setting to ensure NHS has the beds it needs.

Pressure from our Director of Public Health has also ensured that we have secured a stock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for social care workers.

  1. Support to Vulnerable Groups and Individuals

We have received many calls and emails over the past few days about what support is available to older or vulnerable people who are self-isolating and on their own or with limited support networks. We have also received calls about how people can volunteer to help such groups and individuals.  

We have been planning for significant numbers of people needing to self-isolate and are working closely with District Council colleagues and other partners in the community and voluntary sector (CVS) to develop plans for providing the support that people may need but who cannot access support from friends, families and neighbours. Specifically in relation to volunteering we are structuring our countywide response as follows:

  1. Making it easy to give and get help
    1. Signposting people who wish to volunteer
    2. Public campaign about how to request help – central phone and website
    3. Matching service for volunteers and opportunities through our vol sector network
  2. Supporting and empowering local groups
    1. Encourage the mobilisation of existing infrastructure to a greater degree
    2. Offering central guidance on how to offer help ‘safely’ e.g. handling money
    3. Who to contact if people are concerned about someone’s wellbeing
    4. Grants to voluntary sector and via local Councillors 
  3. Commission different levels of volunteering
    1. Higher Need for those with care needs or symptomatic: personal care with PPE, meal preparation, medication prompts to be led by care providers and existing vol sector specialists like Herts Independent Living Service, HCPA, Care By Us – mainly paid staff but some volunteering
    2. Lower Need support for people self-isolating people but not symptomatic: shopping, prescriptions, dog-walking, washing and cleaning, odd-jobs, mental wellbeing, keeping in touch. Response led by #TeamHerts strategic voluntary sector network
  4. Co-ordinating the strategic response
    1. Understanding where there are volunteering gaps and stimulating activity where required
    2. Grant funding and queries on spending
    3. Professional advice on boundary between professional response and volunteer response
    4. Wide communication with stakeholders including districts and boroughs, parish councils, GPs, wider NHS

This will supplement the numerous local schemes that are already appearing in neighbourhoods and to fill in the gaps – we do not want to discourage any of these.  Our approach is to help coordinate the organisations in the county to target those that are most vulnerable as best possible and it is recognised that the type of support will vary. 

We will be directing Herts Help, our existing signposting service, to focus entirely on the response to Covid-19 and linking people up with relevant local organisations and volunteers.  

We will also ensure our Customer Service Centre is configured to prioritise this work; they already work very closely with Herts Help.  

We will be providing additional funding to the voluntary sector to allow them to mobilise a range of volunteers to support the response, whether it be to new roles or to supplement existing organisations.  

We will also be providing extra funding to Herts Independent Living Service to allow them to increase the volume of meals on wheels that they are able to deliver to vulnerable people who are isolating. 

In the meantime, if you receive referrals do use the county’s existing channels:

For people who may have eligible care needs:

  • Call the council’s call centre on 0300 123 4042
  • Check out the website here >>>

For people who need support because they are self-isolating:

  • Call Herts Help 0300 123 4044
  • Check out the website here >>>
  1. Useful Websites

The Government’s website is an important information source which and be viewed here >>>

HCC’s realtime service updates is a key source of local information which can e viewed here >>>

HCC’s stay safe guidance is here >>>

This is a small flavour of the huge activities underway across not just the county council but across all public services in Herts