Devon Coronavirus Emergency Helpline
Keeping Devon’s most vulnerable residents safe remains our top priority. Anyone who is isolated and urgently needs essential food, medicine, care or social support, and doesn’t have any family, friends, neighbours or community to help them, can contact the Devon Coronavirus Emergency Helpline on 0345 155 1011.
Coronavirus Cases in Devon
As of yesterday (23/04/20) there were 581 confirmed coronavirus in the DCC area of Devon. There were 227 cases in Plymouth and 161 in Torbay. Compared with similar Counties are figures are low and more importantly the increase in the number of cases has slowed down considerably. We are not seeing the number of cases doubling (which has happened in other Counties) and the lockdown is working locally in stopping the spread of the virus.
Working with Devon MPs
DCC are holding weekly COVID-19 briefings for Devon MPs and their staff, chaired by John Hart and delivered through Microsoft Teams. Updates are given by Dr Virginia Pearson, Phil Norrey, Keri Denton, Simon Kitchen and representatives from the Local Resilience Forum and the Clinical Commissioning Group.
The briefings are a welcome opportunity for the Council to share all the hard work that is taking place across the county and to reassure MPs we are doing all we can to keep people safe and well. It’s also an opportunity to discuss major issues facing the county and for MPs to ask questions and raise any concerns that they are receiving from their constituents. Health, policing, social care, protecting the most vulnerable, economy, education and finance are all covered in the briefing, providing MPs with a comprehensive overview as they return to parliamentary business. This reflects the information contained in this Bulletin – any additional information will of course be shared with you through the usual communication channels.
This week, the main discussions were around the on-going issue of PPE availability, coronavirus outbreaks in care homes and the support DCC is providing, emergency dental hubs for Devon, opportunities to create additional safer walking and cycling routes, and protection and support for the most vulnerable residents.
MPs praised staff on the frontline for their exceptional response to the outbreak and passed on their thanks for all we are doing to care for Devon’s communities.
Further urgent dental care centres open in Devon
Two new centres for urgent dental treatment have opened in Devon, to improve coverage and reduce journey time for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The two are in Exeter (operating five days a week), and Barnstaple (operating three days a week). They are in addition to the existing centres at Plymouth and Torbay, which started work earlier this month.
To get access, people should phone their own dentist to be assessed. All NHS dental surgeries should be contactable, even while their doors are closed.
Out of usual surgery hours, people should call NHS111. The initial phone assessment will help the dentist decide whether someone needs to be seen immediately or within 24 hours, or can be booked in later for an appointment. Patients will only be seen after a referral via the triage system. Drop-ins are not permitted.
Residents of Devon (including Plymouth and Torbay) without a dentist or who cannot get through to their usual surgery should call 03330 063300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) update
As you know, supplying Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to those providing care services has been an ongoing challenge nationally and locally.
Devon County Council and our NHS colleagues have been working hard to meet the local demand with a range of measures in place across the county. Here is an outline of that activity to help reassure those who are raising this important issue.
Devon County Council is using Millbrook, our independent community equipment provider, as an in-house and out of hours service to supply PPE if care providers cannot access PPE through their usual supply routes and the National Disruption Service cannot help. We have a mailbox for PPE requests and are able to issue 2 day’s worth of PPE for emergency use, with requests prioritised against Public Health guidance.
In addition to the national supply coordinated by the Local Resilience Forum, DCC have been purchasing PPE directly through our DCC procurement teams, outside of our usual routes, to ensure supply of stocks. Locality stock checks are completed each Friday.
DCC have used its Provider Engagement Network to ensure independent social care providers always have access to the latest national guidance from Public Health England, regularly updating links to the national advice and emailing all providers when any significant changes to guidance are announced. As well as keeping up with national guidance, the County Council has worked with other local authorities in the South West to produce local guidance which is as easy-to-use as possible.
In partnership with our NHS colleagues DCC are hosting weekly webinars for care homes, a major theme of which has been PPE.
These are just some of the many activities being undertaken by Devon County Council during this crisis, and further information about our support to the care sector can be found on our Provider Engagement Network website:
with a wide range of community initiatives hosted on the Devon County Council homepage:
DCC’s understanding from its operational teams is, that although the provision of PPE has been a challenge, the arrangements above have meant that no social care provider has a been left without PPE supplies.
With regard to protection and cleanliness in schools, colleges and childcare settings, national guidance is that educational staff do not require PPE. However, there are some circumstances in special schools, for example, where PPE may be needed; additional national advice for settings caring for children and young people with complex needs will be published soon.
The advice, in the main, for schools, colleges and childcare settings is to follow steps on social distancing, handwashing and other hygiene measures, and cleaning of surfaces.
KEEPING PEOPLE SAFE
Welfare and schooling
It’s been another successful week of schools being open for children of key workers and vulnerable children. On Monday 20 April we had 2575 children in school, 719 were vulnerable children. We also had 3131 children attending early years settings.
The Department for Education has announced that it will be providing free laptops and internet access for disadvantaged children who do not already have them. Devices will be ordered for children in the most vital stages of their education, those who receive support from a social worker and care leavers.
And to support the hard work of schools in delivering remote education, the Oak National Academy is now providing 180 video lessons each week, across a broad range of subjects from maths to art to languages, for every year group from reception through to year 10.
The Government will make funding worth £1.6 million available immediately for the NSPCC to expand and promote its national helpline for adults so they know how and where to raise concerns and seek advice or support about the safety and wellbeing of any children they are worried about.
Supporting and protecting our children in care
The DfE has produced guidance on supporting vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus.
Cllr James McInnes said:
“Our Children’s Standing Overview Group has reviewed the improvement plan during the time of COVID-19, the plan has now been sent to Ofsted for their advice, it will be finalised as soon as possible.
“The Corporate Parenting Members Group is meeting this week, for the first time since the Ofsted inspection report has been published, they will be thinking through how COVID-19 impacts on children in care and care leavers, ensuring that the service response is effective.
“Directors of Children’s Services in the region have written to the Minister, Vicky Ford, to share concerns about the sufficiency of child care places now and after the pandemic crisis and to seek greater flexibility in relation to free entitlement payments to help local authorities to exercise their sufficiency duty.”
Keeping children safe online during lockdown
The current lockdown means that children and young people are likely to be spending more time online than they would if they were at school. Online exploitation can affect anyone, boy or girl, from any community.
We are supporting Devon & Cornwall Police’s new campaign which aims to raise awareness of online grooming and child exploitation. To help keep young people safe and protect them from offenders who might attempt to target them online, there is advice and they’ve collected information to support parents,carers and young people to spot the signs of online exploitation.
Millie steps up to help and is Proud to Care
The response to the Proud to Care campaign for people to sign up as a Healthcare Assistants to help support the vulnerable has been astonishing – in just two weeks more than 1,300 people have stepped up and registered.
And one of those is 19-year old law undergraduate Millie Doodson. Last week she completed the first stage of her training, a three-day fast-track training course. This week she’s receiving training in the use of Personal Protective Equipment and will shortly start getting some front-line experience, shadowing one of our re-ablement teams helping those recovering from illness to regain their independence.
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter said:
“The response we have had has been fantastic – people from all backgrounds have come forward and said, ‘I want to make difference’.
I want to thank Millie and the hundreds like her who have stepped up to help when they are needed most.”
Coronavirus-related online scams
We have recently published awareness materials internally, with the purpose of ensuring our DCC colleagues are provided with the necessary guidance information to help them to identify suspicious communications.
We are aware of a huge increase in coronavirus-related scam content which is currently being circulated and we continue to see a significant number of fraudulent messages circulating. These could reach you through email, text message or even phone calls and may impersonate official organisations and/or use authoritative language in an attempt to make their communication appear more credible.
Our Data Protection and Cyber Security Team would like you to read our latest article: Continuing increases in cyber-threats relating to Covid-19. This includes guidance on what Members should do if they receive any suspicious message – these can be forwarded to our Spam Reporting mailbox, use:
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a very simple process.
Will be publishing more resources on a regular basis, but please do refer to our Data Protection and Cyber Security Hub, which holds a variety of content including policies, guidance materials and awareness resources.
Over £59k donated to community projects through the COVID 19 Prompt Action Fund
The COVID-19 Prompt Action Fund, launched by Devon County Council, has received 345 applications including 47 applications for the large grants of up to £5,000, in just four weeks.
Urgent appeal for community equipment
We are still urgently appealing for members of the public to return community equipment they no longer need, including commodes, walking frames, shower stools, and raised toilet seats. Increased demand during the COVID-19 pandemic for these items has meant stocks are in danger of becoming short in supply.
Please contact Millbrook Care on 0330 124 4491 to arrange a free contactless collection.
Exeter coronavirus regional testing centre to open for key workers
DCC has given the Honiton Road Park and Ride site over to the Government for use as a drive-through coronavirus testing facility.
NB – A drive-through testing facility has been set up in Northern Devon in Barnstaple at the McDonalds site on Eastern Avenue.
The highways service is working on starting to deliver more planned works where it is safe to do so, which predominantly means in rural areas like our area. Each scheme is being considered on a site by site basis to establish whether it is safe to do so and whether the supply chain is available in the area.
Traffic flows are still considerably down on the normal (68% down during the week, 80% at weekends), although we are seeing a small reduction this week to about 63% below normal.
Highways teams are continuing to deliver essential safety repairs on our roads to maintain the local network for key workers. You can still continue to report defects, like potholes, through the Reporting Website.
Temporary bus timetables
Information on all bus services which are still running in Devon, including temporary timetables, can be found on the Travel Devon website.
Stagecoach buses have introduced reduced timetables, largely based on a Sunday timetable, with additional earlier and later journeys. Also, details of routes where no services are operating or where there are limited sections of routes are noted.
To plan a journey, contact Traveline on 08712002233 or visit the Traveline website.
And key workers can use our ‘Key Cars’ service to get a lift to work for a subsidised flat fare.
One to one local business support
Eligible businesses based in Devon, Torbay, Plymouth and Somerset can now access a fully funded one to one advice session with a business adviser through the Heart of the South West Growth Hub.
The Covid-19 Business Recovery Support service gives you an opportunity to discuss the impact of coronavirus on your business, explore various actions to support your business with adaption, resilience and recovery options.
Following the session you will be provided with a support plan detailing practical next steps and identifying further sources of support and guidance as appropriate.
Please visit the Growth Hub website for more information and to apply.
DCC featured as case study on Local Government Association (LGA) website
Despite these unprecedented times, local authorities still need to deliberate and make decisions about the future of their localities, enable democratic participation from applicants and residents, maintain momentum on major developments in their boundaries while adhering to social distancing and new government regulations. Devon County Council is showcased as a notable example of a council that has piloted virtual meetings using video conferencing, as Karen Strahan explains in this LGA article.
Digital technology is proving instrumental in helping Devon County Council and other “Team Devon” partners to continue with their work throughout the coronavirus pandemic, according to County Council Leader John Hart. Watch his short clip here.
Looking after ourselves and keeping active
It is really important that we all look after ourselves and support each other by taking time to think about our wellbeing.
We’ll all be experiencing highs and lows and it’s perfectly normal to miss loved ones, get frustrated, feel anxious or stressed. Feeling like that is OK. This is a temporary situation, and for most of us these difficult feelings will pass. If you feel unable to cope or keep yourself safe, its important to get support as soon as possible.
Remember we have lots of resources to support Members’ mental health and wellbeing and other great resources include Every Mind Matters and Five Ways to Wellbeing. This can be remembered by CLANG – Connect, (keep) Learning, (be) Active, (take) Notice, Give.
If you can, take your daily exercise out in the fresh air, and when you are working please do take regular, short breaks. Active Devon has some brilliant ideas on how we can get moving more.
By pulling together across the Council, with our partners and our communities, we are doing everything we can to help us all through this incredibly difficult time. Thank you to you and your community and stay safe and well.
Please note that all of our sites and offices are closed to the public, except for necessary prearranged visits.
Further guidance can be found on the Devon County Council website here.