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COVID-19 and Together Dementia Support

This page was last updated on Thursday 9 December 2021

Keeping our groups safe

As you will be aware, the government announced on Wednesday 8 December that new measures will be put in place in to try and slow the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID19 in England.

These new measures are effective from Monday 13 December 2021, and we have set out below our approach to these changes and how we will best be able to continue providing services in a safe, sensible way.

We still strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to take up the COVID19 vaccine when it is available to them, and to take up the booster if they have already been double-vaccinated.

 

To read more about Together Dementia Support and our statement regarding vaccines, click here

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There are no plans to cancel groups at the moment. This will be assessed on a weekly basis. If a group is cancelled, we will give you as much notice as we can. Read more about safety at TDS groups.

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Staff will work from home where possible, and staff and volunteers will complete a lateral flow test before taking part in any face-to-face activities. Read more about our NHS Lateral Flow Testing scheme.

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We will continue with our stringent hygiene measures, including regular hand washing, wiping down surfaces, and frequent use of hand sanitiser gel. Read more about safety at TDS groups & home visits.

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Masks must be worn at all times where possible. This is the best way to prevent spread of respiratory illness. Read more about safety at TDS groups & home visits.

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Where masks cannot be worn, a visor must be used instead to reduce risk of respiratory spread. Read more about safety at TDS groups & home visits

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We will do our best to maintain social distancing of at least 1m where possible. Home visits will be delayed until after Christmas and assessments will take place via telephone where possible. Read more about safety at TDS groups & home visits.

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High standards of hygiene will be maintained on our transport, and all passengers will continue wearing masks and using hand sanitiser gel every trip. Read more about safety on our transport.

Transport

Together Dementia Support owns two buses that can be booked to transport members from their homes to groups and back again. We have a Peugeot Boxer minibus and a Ford Torneo.

From Monday 6 September, we will have the following guidelines in place:

Drivers
All drivers of both vehicles are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. They wear appropriate PPE and observe the relevant health & safety procedures for social distancing and hygiene to ensure the safety of our service users.

Passengers
Only members who have been vaccinated will be transported together on either of our vehicles.

Numbers of passengers on our transport will be limited. There will be a maximum of 8 passengers or 6 households in the Peugeot Boxer minibus, and a maximum of 5 passengers or 3 households in the Ford Torneo.

 
Driver Gwenneth smiling and standing behind a minibus, pointing to the TDS logo

Our driver, Gwenneth, happy to be getting back out and about in our minibus!

Costs

There is a slight increase in the running costs of our vehicles due to the reduced capacity for more trips. In order to make the maintenance and running of our transport feasible, clean and safe, the charge for use of transport is now £5. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if the cost of transport is prohibitive to attendance at groups.

At Groups

Capacity
Groups will be starting back from the 17 May 2021 with reduced or limited capacity. As a standard guideline, groups will have a total of 12 people – 8 participants, 2 volunteers, 1 lead volunteer and 1 Dementia Group Leader.

The maximum capacity for groups may vary due to venue considerations. Outdoor activities can have a total maximum of 15 participants observing social distancing precautions. 

 

Bubbles
To ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers, and service users, we will be using a bubble system to try and keep friends and groups together. Some groups with larger membership may have two bubbles that meet on alternate weeks, and your Dementia Group Leader or volunteer that knows you will arrange this with you if you are affected. Please stick to your arranged week as we may not be able to accommodate attendance at groups on other days.

 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) & Hygiene
We will have PPE guidelines in place that will be followed as closely as is feasible. There will be good supplies of PPE available for use at each session. Staff and volunteers will wear masks or visors in all indoor vendors in accordance with our COVID Risk Assessment.

 

Venues will be checked for cleanliness and hygiene before each session. Staff and volunteers will maintain a high level of hygiene, cleanliness and infection control throughout the group and risk assessments are in place and ratified for all groups.

Proper ventilation will be observed as far as possible, with windows and doors opened to ensure air circulation. 

During Home Visits

We will carry out telephone assessments where possible and delay a Home Visit until after Christmas. 

The vaccination status of service users will be recorded during the telephone call when arranging a Home Visit. We are unable to invite any more unvaccinated service users to join our groups at the present time. 

If a Home Visit is considered essential, staff will wear masks, sanitise responsibly before and after the visit, and maintain social distancing throughout the appointment.

 

Lateral Flow Testing

Staff and volunteers are all taking part in our Lateral Flow Testing scheme in partnership with the NHS so that we can be as sure as we possibly can be they are not going to introduce the virus to our service users.

 

Participants are taking tests within the 24 hours preceding meeting face-to-face to be as safe and secure as possible. All staff and volunteers must take their tests before attending groups.

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COVID-19 Vaccination Statement

The take up of the vaccine is a personal choice, and we have put in place stringent measures to ensure that unvaccinated people already with us are kept as safe as possible during our activities. At this time we are unable to take on any more new staff members or volunteers who have not received two doses of COVID19 vaccine.

We take the threat of COVID19 very seriously, and you may feel at times we are being more cautious than the government is currently advising at a national level. This is because our client group mostly falls into a very high risk category of people with a greater likelihood of serious illness or death as a result of contracting a COVID19 infection. As a provider of health and social care services, the government allows us to set our own policies and standards, and this includes the requirement for face masks, lateral flow testing, and knowing the vaccination status of our volunteers and service users.

 

Together Dementia Support are strongly encouraging all staff members, volunteers, members and carers to take up the vaccine and booster when it is offered. The vast majority of our service users have fed back that they would strongly prefer volunteers to be vaccinated before they return to groups, and that this is a deciding factor in whether or not they take part in face-to-face activities.


We are currently running a scheme of lateral flow testing for volunteers so that we can be as sure as we possibly can be they are not carrying the virus into our groups, but this does not 100% guarantee prevention of infection and unvaccinated people are at greater risk of serious illness.

Continued social distancing and regular testing for volunteers will continue, and is subject to change depending on local public health advice, health and safety advice from the Government, and guidance published by the NHS. Eventually all people will be able to return to face-to-face group activities – and we can’t wait!

 
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