Coronavirus Update – June 2021

Coronavirus Update – June 2021

Coronavirus Update – June 2021

Thank you for your continued support and patience during this extremely difficult time whilst we have continued to deliver services in line with COVID Government advice.

26th March 2021 – we have published our plan for reintroducing services in line with the planned easing of restrictions – click here to read the plan.

We continue to deliver our services in line with the latest COVID Government guidance and review these arrangements on a regular basis. Currently our services look like this;

  • We will continue to provide a range of front-line tenancy, rent collection and support services. Wherever possible, our staff will be working from home and will respond to customer calls, emails, letters, social media enquiries and texts. From the 12th April we are able to undertake essential home visits in line with our Working Safely Commitment (see video below).
  • We will continue to provide a full repairs service if you are happy with our staff working in your home, however if we experience staff resource issues, we will move to essential and emergency repairs.
  • We will continue to provide essential health and safety checks such as gas servicing and electrical testing. We ask you to work with us to ensure these can be booked in and completed as required.
  • We will agree appropriate arrangements with you when we carry out home improvements such as replacing a kitchen or bathroom and will ask you to sign a form to confirm that you are aware of the COVID-safe requirements that both you and our contractors must follow.
  • Independent Living staff will be working from home but will be on site on a weekly basis to carry out essential health and safety related checks and will carry out regular health and wellbeing calls to our most vulnerable customers.
  • We will continue to provide our Lifelink and Responder services.
  • From Monday 12th April our customer reception reopened for appointments only.

What does this mean to you?

You can see all of the rules about what we can and cannot do during lockdown on the Government website here.

Since the outbreak of the virus, we have put in place a number of additional safety measures to protect you and our staff, ensuring that our approaches are COVID-secure and in line with the latest Government guidance and restrictions, whilst also ensuring we are still able to provide essential services.

What our services look like

Repairs, Maintenance and Health & Safety Checks: We will continue to provide a full repairs service and ensure that your homes comply with required health and safety checks such as gas servicing and electrical testing. We ask you to work with us to ensure these can be booked in and completed as required. If we experience staff resource issues, we will prioritise essential and emergency repairs

When we come into your home, we will ensure that yours and our staffs health and safety is the key priority, and our teams will wear full personal protective equipment.

Home improvements:  Home improvement works to properties will continue and we will contact you directly to agree how the works will be completed whist maintaining safe working practices.

We will agree appropriate arrangements with you when we carry out home improvements such as replacing a kitchen or bathroom and will ask you to sign a form to confirm that you are aware of the COVID-safe requirements that both you and our contractors must follow.

External work in our communities: Our Estate Services team will continue with their normal duties, working safely to improve our outdoor communal areas. Outdoor planned works such as new fencing will also continue.

Housing & Letting Services: Our staff will work from home and will only attend home visits or undertake welfare checks where these are essential and must be carried out in person. Lettings will continue in a COVID safe way.

GCH Railway House Reception: Our reception at Railway House is now open for appointments only. Please do not turn up without an appointment as there is no access.

Independent Living: Our Independent Living Team will work from home but will continue to carry out essential Health and Safety tests and undertake welfare checks as required. They will be on hand to respond to customer enquiries and emergencies either online or over the phone.

The Government guidance is that we must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of our household – meaning the people we live with or who are in our support bubble. This means that we must ask you not to allow visitors into the Independent Living schemes during this period, unless they are in your support bubble or providing care.

Communal areas within Independent Living Schemes will remain closed.

Rent Payments: Tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. The government has a package of financial support available to tenants, and where they can pay the rent as normal, they should do. If you are experiencing financial difficulty you should continue to prioritise your rent payments and contact our Tenancy Sustainment team for support and advice. We will continue to respond to our customer enquiries and talk to you about your tenancy and rental payments, providing you with the necessary support and advice over the phone or online.

Community Support: Since March we have worked closely with a wide range of community groups and partners to provide community-based support and we will continue to do so during this period. Details of the support that is in place can be found here and the Gloucester City Council’s website:- www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/gloucestershires-community-help-hub/

What you must tell us before we visit your home

To enable us to work safely in your home, you must:

  • Tell us if you or a member of your household is clinically extremely vulnerable, clinically vulnerable or has a confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) so that we can agree arrangements to deliver essential services.
  • Comply with Government advice in relation to ‘Stay at Home – Protect the NHS – Save Lives’ particularly in relation to social distancing.

What you can expect when we visit your home

On your doorstep, we will again ask you to let us know if you or a member of your household is clinically extremely vulnerable, clinically vulnerable or has a confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) so that we can agree arrangements to deliver essential services.

Before attending an appointment at your home, we will contact you and advise on how we intend to deliver the service in a safe manner to the following guidelines and those shown at the end of this information:

  • Our staff wearing the appropriate PPE
  • Following social distancing rules
  • Requiring residents to isolate in a separate room from where the staff member is working for the duration of the visit/works being undertaken.
  • Ensuring that the rooms GCH staff are working in are well ventilated wherever possible

These guidelines have been put in place to ensure the safety of both our staff and residents. If they are not followed our staff have been instructed to leave the property.

We recognise that this continues to be a very concerning time for all our customers.

GCH Covid-19 Working Safely Commitment

When we provide a service or carry out work in your home we will:

  • Contact you in advance to explain what safety measures will be put in place
  • Restrict work to emergency only in households where customers are symptomatic, self-isolating, clinically extremely vulnerable or clinically vulnerable (shielding)
  • Carry out all work in line with Government Guidance
  • Observe social distancing and avoid any contact wherever possible
  • Wear the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment
  • Maintain high levels of personal hygiene (washing hands or using sanitiser before we enter and after we leave your home)
  • Limit the number of staff working in your property
  • Do everything we can to keep customers and colleagues safe

What we need you to do when we visit you or carry out work in your home;

  • Tell us if you are symptomatic, self-isolating, clinically extremely vulnerable or clinically vulnerable
  • Maintain social distancing wherever possible and throughout the duration of the visit
  • Isolate in a separate room when the staff member attends and for the duration of the visit/works being undertaken
  • Ensure rooms where GCH staff are working are well ventilated wherever possible  
  • Understand that if these safety requirements are not followed that our staff will be required to leave your property.

You can read all of the service update letters we have sent to tenants here.

If you are concerned or need to talk to us about your situation, please call us on 01452 424344 where a member of the team will be happy to speak to you.

The Latest Advice

For your safety and that of others we ask that all tenants and residents follow the advice from the Government – visit the NHS 111 online service

Government guidance for tenants can be found here.

Concerns related to Coronavirus affecting employment and paying rent

If you are worried about how you will pay your rent and bills read our advice here.

If you have any concerns, please get in touch with our friendly Tenancy Sustainment Team. At this stage we are on hand to take payments and set up Direct Debits but we understand you may not want to set up a Direct Debit. If you are concerned about the money not being in your account and being charged, we can set up a Recurring Card payment for you,  this means that there will be no charges from the bank if the money is not in your account.

Please make every effort to pay your rent by whatever means you can and if you are experiencing difficulties
please be assured that we have officers available by phone on 01452 424344 to take phone payments and give advice.

You may wish to sign up for MyGCH where you can make rent payments and view your balances 24/7.