Well-being calls to Denbighshire residents expanded
The Council has expanded its wellbeing checks to residents during the coronavirus outbreak.
With the support of Denbighshire Leisure Ltd, the Council is contacting everybody receiving shielding letters from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales and is now expanding calls to residents over 70.
So far more than 5,000 residents have been contacted and support has included referrals to community groups or local charities for help with, for example, advice about finances, grocery shopping or dog walking.
Denbighshire Leisure’s Active Communities team has visited over 300 residents, with another 200 to be visited within the next few weeks.
The team has visited people who have received a shielding letter and had previously been uncontactable by phone and checked in on them to ensure they were being supported during this difficult time.
Overall, the project has involved more than 80 staff members from a range of Council departments as well as Denbighshire Leisure Ltd and external partners including Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council (DVSC), the British Red Cross, and elected members have been recruited to support by becoming telephone befrienders.
Cllr Bobby Feeley, the Council’s Lead Member for Well-being and Independence, said: “Thanks to the hard work and adaptability of staff, we have been in touch with more than 5,000 people, and are in regular contact with a majority of those. We have referred more than 250 people for Welsh Government food boxes, and more than 300 people to DVSC to find help with shopping and collecting medications. We have identified a number of safeguarding and wellbeing concerns and referred these for a quick professional response. This has meant that many officers have had to work in a completely different way and I would again like to thank staff for their dedication and hard work during this process.”
A number of residents have contacted the Council to offer their thanks to staff as well as posting on social media.
Feedback from a resident in Ruthin said it was very reassuring to have the Denbighshire Leisure Active Communities team call by and he said it was a great comfort for him and his wife who feel like they are being supported and are not alone.
Jamie Groves, Managing Director of Denbighshire Leisure Ltd, said: “The team has gone above and beyond over the last month and it’s fantastic to hear the amazing feedback from the local community, who feel supported by the team during this difficult time. They were happy to step up to the task and felt it was a great way to stay connected with our residents and service users at this time. Fortunately most residents were safe and well and enjoyed chatting to the team, at a safe distance.”
Welsh Government update on shielding
People who have been shielding can now take exercise outdoors and meet people from another household, as long as it takes place outdoors.
There are two changes to the advice for this group:
- outdoor exercise is unlimited, as long as individuals strictly follow social distancing rules and hygiene practices
- those who are shielding can meet outside with people from another household – but should not go into another person’s house or share food with them
This advice comes from Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, who said: "We have advised everyone in Wales to maintain social distance of 2 meters and keep good hygiene when meeting outdoors. For those who are shielding, strictly following these rules is vital. I am pleased that so many have been shielding so diligently – not only protecting themselves but also helping to protect our NHS. We recognise how challenging these last few months, with minimal face-to-face contact with others, has been. The Chief Medical Officer is continuing to develop his advice for shielding people after 15 June. All who are shielding will receive a letter from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales in the coming fortnight setting out the next steps.
"I am incredibly proud of all those who have and continue to provide the vital support to enable people to shield. Our Local Authority partners, pharmacies, volunteers and major food retailers have all pulled together to make shielding possible."
The scheme has been extended until 16 August, and people who are shielding are still advised to do so until this date.
Partnership working goes on
The Council has been working with a wide range of partner agencies during the coronavirus outbreak, to try and keep our communities safe.
The work involves local authorities, Welsh Government, emergency services, health organisations, Traffic Wales, Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Snowdonia National Park, Natural Resources Wales and others to draw up plans on how we co-ordinate the response to the pandemic.
This has involved sharing public information and messages, to encourage residents to follow guidelines that will try and protect them and others from coronavirus.
A tremendous amount of work has been going on locally in Denbighshire to introduce changes in services, in order to protect the health and well-being of residents. Our care homes and support services in the community have played a significant role and they have been working tirelessly under pressure to care for our loved ones.
We have provided childcare for the children of priority workers, we have worked to protect the vulnerable through welfare checks and we have administered business support grants on behalf of Welsh Government.
That is only a flavour of the work that has been going on in Denbighshire. The work of protecting communities continues.
We have also worked on issues such as free school meals, business support.
There are a number of regional sub-groups that are also responding in their areas of work, agreeing actions locally and nationally and ensuring that the operational and communications response is co-ordinated.
The Senior Emergency Management Team is meeting three times a week to make decisions about issues affecting the Council. It has been looking at issues such as schools, free school meals, social care business continuity, business support, finances, facilities management, Personal Protective Equipment, safety in the workplace. We are also starting the process of looking at recovery – how are we going to try and get things back to normal when this period comes to an end.
That is not an exhaustive list but gives you a flavour of some of the issues posing challenges to us at the minute.
Latest update from Welsh Government about the covid-19 restrictions
From Monday, June 1st , two households in the same local area are able to meet outdoors. In doing this, however, people must follow social distancing and strict hand hygiene practices to control the spread of the virus.
'Local' means not generally travelling more than 5 miles from home to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading from one area to another.
The changes mean people can meet another household outdoors in their local area but all the other rules to protect people from coronavirus will stay in place for the time being.
Meeting outdoors is key as the science tells us the virus survives only for minutes outside but for hours on indoor surfaces.
The changes follow the third statutory review of the regulations by Welsh Ministers. The review is based on the latest scientific evidence from SAGE and the advice of the Chief Medical Officer for Wales.
Wales has passed the first peak of infection and rates are falling but the R rate remains at 0.8. Both SAGE and the World Health Organisation has advised changes should only be made one step at a time.
The First Minister has signalled that non-essential retail businesses, which can comply with the physical distancing duty, should start to prepare to reopen over the next 3 weeks. A decision about whether non-essential retail will reopen will be taken at the next review on 18 June and will depend on the scientific and medical evidence.
The need to stay local and not mix with others other than in certain circumstances will be subject to exceptions similar to those that currently apply. Guidance will be provided about what staying local means in different circumstances.
- Re-opening non-essential retail
- Increasing capacity for childcare and public transport to support a wider return to work
- Facilitating moving house to boost the housing market
- Re-opening outdoors sites, including outdoor markets, sports courts, outdoor showrooms, and outdoor museums
- Re-opening facilities for non-professional elite athletes to train safely.
Support for campaign for Denbighshire residents to look out for each other
The Council is supporting a campaign to help people who are staying at home because of coronavirus.
The Welsh Government’s Looking Out for Each Other campaign focuses on how to help each other during the pandemic and provides practical guidance about how to stay mentally and physically active as well as how to perform everyday tasks safely to minimise the risk of contracting coronavirus.
Cllr Bobby Feeley, the Council’s Lead Member for Well-being and Independence, said: “This is a very difficult time for all our residents but the most important message is for people to stay safe and minimise contact with others. This helps slow the spread of the virus and helps protect our NHS, social care and emergency service staff as well as key workers continuing to provide services to us all.
“This advice is especially important to vulnerable members of society such as the over 70s and those with underlying medical conditions. Our message to them is please do not take any risks.
“The Welsh Government has published guidance on how we can support those in our communities who need extra care, but the message is clear this should be done safely by keeping your distance from others.
Examples of support that can be provided for vulnerable members of society include:
Help with food shopping. You can do this in person and leave groceries on the doorstep, or help those who aren’t familiar with shopping online.
Keep in touch. Staying at home for a long time can be a lonely experience. Just saying hello and regularly checking in over the phone or online is important.
Run errands. Some people will need help collecting medication. Others may need support ordering so they don’t run out.
Share trusted sources of information. It’s easy to become worried by online information, some of which may be deliberately designed to mislead people. Help your community by sharing trusted information from Welsh Government, Public Health Wales, Denbighshire County Council and North Wales Police.
For more information on how to safely look out for each other visit https://gov.wales/safe-help
Care recruitment call in Denbighshire
A major recruitment drive has been launched in Denbighshire to recruit contracted care staff to assist in the county’s care homes.
The Council has already enlisted the help of 55 staff, volunteers and members of the public and the Council has launched its Gallu Gofalu? / Care to Care? campaign to fill numerous care home contract vacancies across the county.
The biggest need is for hands on care and the Council is keen to recruit contracted staff to work in care teams throughout the county. There are a variety of roles and some will provide critical support to local communities. No experience necessary, as training will be provided. The Council is looking for kind hearted, caring and compassionate individuals.
Councillor Bobby Feeley, Cabinet Lead Member for Well-being and Independence, said: “This is an urgent appeal for care home staff. We are in unprecedented times and the future with coronavirus looks really uncertain.
“There is a lot of pressure on social care and resources are being stretched to the limit. That is why we are having such a major push on recruitment and we would ask anyone who fits the bill to get in touch as a matter of urgency”.
To find out how to apply for contract vacancies, click here or by phoning the Human Resources Team, on 01824 706200.
Volunteering in Denbighshire
Work has been carried out by Denbighshire County Council, with input from county councillors and city, town and community councils to pull together and map out resources available during the Covid-19 outbreak across Denbighshire.
A Community Resource Pack has been produced to highlight how volunteers can help specific communities. The pack contains information about local emerging groups and businesses across Denbighshire offering support, including information about food deliveries, grocery services, laundry services, befriending schemes and other support services. It also contains links to a variety of support agencies and networks which operate locally, regionally and nationally.
The Covid-19 Emergency Relief Grants Pack contains information about grant funding available for charitable groups supporting their local communities and individuals facing financial hardship.
Meanwhile the Council is working closely with the Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council (DVSC)to promote wider opportunities for volunteering in the local community, to provide a co-ordinated approach to deal with requests and to ensure that the right support gets to the place where it is needed.
The Council also has Community Coordinators in place who are contacting all community group and businesses who are offering community support in the county, to talk to them about the support that’s available to them from the Council, DVSC, and local and national funding bodies. If anyone wants to request a call, they can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Council says Thank You to the NHS
NHS workers have been given a special thank you on their way to work.
Diolch yn Fawr GIG/ Thank You NHS has been painted on the approaches to Glan Clwyd Hospital, Bodelwyddan.
The work was carried out by Denbighshire County Council, with the help of contractors K T L Contracting, of Llanbedr DC, and L & R Roadlines of Ellesmere Port.
All parties involved carried out the work free of charge.
Cllr Brian Jones, the Council’s Lead Member for Waste, Transport and the Environment, said: “As a Council we wanted to thank NHS workers at Glan Clwyd Hospital on behalf of all our residents.
“Frontline workers across the county, in the NHS, social care and those continuing to provide services of all kinds during this pandemic deserve our thanks and appreciation during this time. With this gesture we wanted to show them Denbighshire’s appreciation.
“I’d also like to thank K T L Contracting and L & R Roadlines for carrying out the work for free.”
Ellen Greer, Hospital Director, said: “On behalf of everyone at Glan Clwyd Hospital, I’d like to thank Denbighshire County Council for this kind gesture.
“We’ve seen incredible generosity from the whole community which supports the hospital, from our partner organisations through to members of the public.
“We’re grateful for all of the messages and offers of support we’ve received, and urge everyone to continue to follow the guidance on social distancing to help keep our staff and our patients safe.”
Meanwhile the Council would like to offer its thanks and support to key frontline workers working in all communities across Denbighshire.
There are those providing care and support to individuals, but also many organisations and businesses are providing vital services that support the efforts in Denbighshire and across North Wales.
That effort is continuing and the Council would like to express its gratitude to people for their commitment and dedication.
Council and DVSC thank volunteers this June
The Council in partnership with Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council (DVSC) would like to thank volunteers who have stepped forward during the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of Volunteers Week 2020, which celebrated the contribution of millions of volunteers across the UK, the Council and DVSC thanked those who have volunteered to help provide services with the Council and in the community since March.
More than 500 Denbighshire residents registered as volunteers with DVSC since March with the Council and DVSC contacting these volunteers to provide them with roles.
Many have helped the Council directly with care work within homes and the community, befriending calls, PPE and equipment drivers, homelessness support and domestic duties such as cleaning and laundry, while DVSC has placed many more with community groups across the county.
Cllr Tony Thomas, Denbighshire’s Lead Member for Housing and Communities, said: “There has been tremendous support in our communities since the coronavirus outbreak. We have seen people come together and help others and that is something to be celebrated. I’d like to thank all those across Denbighshire who are volunteering and congratulate them on their work and I would also like to thank DVSC for working in partnership with the Council during this challenging time.
“I would like to also pay tribute to those who have been volunteering through the Council directly and are helping provide vital support and help to people. It is tremendous to see the effect this is having on people’s lives and we know those receiving help are extremely grateful.”
Helen Wilkinson, Chief Executive of DVSC, said: "Over the last few months, the COVID19 Volunteer Community Response DVSC initiated has depended on volunteers stepping up to provide support to some of our most vulnerable residents.
“We have worked closely with Denbighshire County Council to ensure we place volunteers where the need is greatest, and the voluntary and community action is safe, effective and inspires people to keep stepping up.
“We want to extend our heartfelt gratitude for all volunteers who have supported residents, voluntary and community groups, third sector organisations, social enterprises, local businesses, and our public service partners like Denbighshire County Council and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. Every single voluntary act - great or small - has made a real difference to people's lives."
Council's free school meals appeal to remaining eligible families
The Council is calling on those families in the county who may be eligible for free school meals to get in touch.
In recent weeks, the Council has put in place a system where it provides payments instead of free school meals, with £19.50 being paid to parents or guardians, per child per week.
So far, over 1,500 parents/ guardians (3,000 children) are benefitting from the free school meals payments, but the Council estimates that up to 400 more families could be eligible. Despite phone calls and correspondence, these families have not come forward.
The Council moved quickly to put plans to deliver free school meals, once the school closures were announced. Within a matter of days, the Council had put in place a way of providing meals to children that were legally entitled to receive them.
This system was replaced by the direct payments method, where the Council pays money directly into the bank accounts of parents and guardians, making sure they are paid money to feed their children. Staff from the Council have been in touch with the vast majority of families and arranged payments. However, there are families that are more difficult to reach and despite extensive efforts, they have so far yet to come forward.
If parents or guardians believe they are eligible, they are urged to click here for more information.
Council issues statement following schools announcement
The Council has issued a statement in response to the announcement by Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams MS that schools will re-open in phases from June 29.
The main points of the Minister’s announcement were:
- It is proposed that all schools will start the next phase on 29 June, with the term extended by a week, therefore ending on 27 July.
- In the next academic year, beginning in September, the intention is that the autumn half-term break will be expanded to two weeks.
- In each school there will be a phased approach. Year groups will be split into cohorts with staggered starts, lessons and breaks. It is expected that this will mean, at most, a third of pupils present at any one time, though schools may need time to reach this level of operation.
- There will be much smaller classes, providing secure dedicated time with teachers and classmates. This time will include online and personalised classroom experience, getting children and teachers ready for a similar experience in September.
Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Cabinet Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement, said: “The safety of our children, young people and our staff is a top priority and we would like to reassure parents and guardians that we will do everything it takes to create safe environments for when our pupils and students return.
“The Welsh Government has made it clear from the outset of coronavirus that schools will only re-open in Wales when it is safe to do so, but we recognise that some parents/ guardians may be still have concerns around the timing.
“A lot of work is going on in Denbighshire and across North Wales, to review all our education and school policies and procedures, to make sure they are fit for purpose for new arrangements to be put in place that will allow our schools to open safely.
“We will now consider the details of the announcement in great detail and we will work closely with schools, governing bodies and teaching unions to prepare for re-opening schools, with stringent social distancing measures being introduced in every school. There will be rigorous cleaning and hand hygiene procedures in place and we will ensure that schools have everything they need to operate safely.
“Schools will provide information over the coming days and weeks about arrangements that will be put in place and steps that people must follow to ensure that the health and safety of all our pupils and staff are protected”.