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Tags: COVID-19

COVID-19 & Access to Primary Care Services for Patients with “No Fixed Abode”

VOICES GP access
Author: Dean Spruce, Communication & Media Manager, VOICES   It has been known for quite some time that people that have no home are frequently wrongly rejected when applying to register with a GP in order to access primary care services. Back in 2016 VOICES in collaboration with Expert Citizens CIC and Healthwatch Stoke-on-Trent undertook a ‘mystery shopping’ exercise resulting in the Gatekeepers Report, where 46 GP surgeries in and around Stoke-on-Trent were contacted and asked if they are able to register someone who is homeless. 47.8% of these said they could not (26.09% said maybe pending further advice with only 26.09% saying they could) This is despite the CQC expected standards of care stating, “CQC expects practices to register people who are homeless, people with no fixed abode, or those legitimately unable to provide documentation living within their catchment area who wish to register with them. Homeless patients are entitled to register with a GP using a temporary address which may be a friend’s address or a day centre.” “The practice may also use the practice address to register them.” “Practices should try to ensure they have a way of contacting the patient if they need to (for example with test results). Some areas will have… Continue Reading

Unprecedented Times: COVID-19 blog

VOICES unprecedented times
By Geoff Davies, Specialist Housing Advisor, Stoke North and Staffordshire Citizens Advice Bureau   Like most people during lockdown, I’ve had my ups and downs.  In February 2020 BL (Before Lockdown) I had just celebrated my 50th birthday with family and friends and was looking forward to a Summer of sport and holidays in Croatia and possibly the US.  But, to quote Robert Burns, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft a-gley”. I love a routine and to keep busy, I love having a sense of purpose.  I love my independence and having things to look forward to. I love being around people, and lockdown has robbed me of much of this. For the week or so it was ok, it was a novelty.  I weeded the garden, cleaned my cupboards and de-cluttered.  But I hate gardening and detest cleaning and so as the days stretched into weeks the novelty soon wore off. After a couple of weeks however, I began to struggle.  I was in limbo because, although I had not been furloughed, there was only a trickle of work coming through.  Rationally, I understood and agreed with the lockdown, but emotionally my inner child was rebelling against the restrictions.  In… Continue Reading

Homeless Health Outreach: COVID-19 blog

VOICES homeless health
Advanced Nurse Practitioner Jane Morton gives us her thoughts and experiences of continuing to provide crucial healthcare to the most vulnerable during the Coronavirus pandemic. Expert Citizens Life Stories · Advanded Nurse Practitioner – Jane Morton: COVID-19 blog… Continue Reading

COVID-19 – ‘Meaningful use of time’ during lockdown

VOICES meaningful use of time
By Elena Casilli, Service Coordinator, VOICES   As a service coordinator we don’t just focus on “coordinating services”, however this is the bulk of what our role entails. There is however, another aspect of our role, which I think is the best part. The importance it plays in people’s lives is acknowledging that people are not defined by their multiple and complex needs.  My colleagues will be shouting “I know what she’s on about” because I’m always talking about it… Meaningful use of time (MUT).   For me MUT is the whole kit and caboodle and I truly believe that it is powerful in shifting a person’s self-opinion and the opinion of others.  It is a small  part of what makes us us… people with quirks, different interests, likes and dislikes, hobbies, what we consider to be leisure could  be another person’s idea of hell, but  everyone has something they love to do or would like to give a go.  The key is to keep on going, exploring and trying things out until something is found, something that clicks for that person and then you see a different side to someone. Currently with the cloud of Covid 19 over our community, how do we support customers… Continue Reading

A day in the life of a System Broker (in quarantine)

VOICES system broker
By Lauren Macaskill, System Broker, VOICES   Well this case study isn’t how I’d thought it would go! I did consider picking a day before being in quarantine to document what a typical working day looks like for a System Broker, but I thought why not use an opportunity to document this exact time which we may hopefully never experience again. All being well, I’ll have plenty of opportunities in the future to evidence what a typical day for me looks like – in the office.   So, what is a System Broker? To summarise, there are two of us doing the role which can include the following:   Overseeing a team of 8 Service Coordinators working with people experiencing multiple and complex needs such as drug misuse, homelessness, offending and mental health Complete suitability assessments for those introduced to VOICES – where they do not meet the threshold, provide specialist advice where possible and further signposting Meet with partner agencies on a regular basis to maintain and encourage partner agency working Ensure VOICES have attendance at all relevant meetings in the city Working with Service Coordinators, highlight any potential “blockages” in the system through appropriate escalation Contribute to the development of good practice and… Continue Reading

Coronavirus and its impact on benefits for people experiencing multiple disadvantages

VOICES coronavirus update
By Julie Holdcroft, Welfare Benefits Caseworker, Citizens Advice Staffordshire North & Stoke on Trent   The DWP has made many changes in the last 2 months to the benefit system in response to the Coronavirus. Some are short term changes and some will last up to a year.   Accessing Jobcentres Firstly, DWP have closed all Jobcentres to most people, apart from the most vulnerable (e.g. homeless people) who cannot access the DWP over the phone/internet. Those with work search and work availability requirements will have them removed, and will not be required to meet with a Work Coach for 3 months from 30/3/20 and then will be reviewed. For those making new UC claims they will not have to attend a Jobcentre to verify their claim. This will be done over the phone   https://www.gov.uk/government/news/claimants-are-asked-to-apply-online-as-jobcentres-limit-access?utm_source=0b62277d-0c8b-401d-a8cd-e22745cdbd9f&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate   Self-isolating For those on ESA or UC who are self-isolating due to being high risk, having symptoms or living with someone with symptoms, the DWP will treat these people as having limited capability for work (LCW) without the requirement for any medical evidence or having to undergo a work capability assessment.   https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2020-03-03/24307   Disability and Sickness Assessments New reviews and reassessments (including face to face assessments) of benefits such as PIP will be suspended… Continue Reading

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and changes to the Care Act 2014 – A briefing for homelessness providers and practitioners

VOICES covid 19 care act
By Bruno Ornelas, Fiona Bateman and Michelle Cornes   Introduction This briefing highlights the changes to Care Act 2014 following the new emergency laws brought by the Coronavirus Act 2020. It is intended to support practitioners’ thinking when working with people experiencing multiple disadvantages across voluntary and community sectors, housing associations, faith based community services and other providers that come into contact with excluded groups linked to homelessness. This document therefore acts as an aid to prepare groups of workers to exercise their professional judgement in ways which incorporates relevant laws, ethics and rights based-thinking.   What is the Coronavirus Act 2020? The Coronavirus Act 2020 was passed through Parliament at a fairly rapid pace coming in to force on 31st March 2020. This created temporary emergency laws which allow local authorities to suspend many of the Care Act 2014 duties (Section 15 and Schedule 12, Coronavirus Act 2020). This means that enforceable duties in the Care Act, including duty to assess and the duty to meet unmet eligible needs, are suspended during the emergency period if, locally, resources are stretched to such an extent that it is necessary to ensure safe care to as many people as possible. In other words, some duties in the… Continue Reading

Back to Earth: Red Dwarf, homework, and coronavirus

VOICES red dwarf
By Andy Meakin, VOICES Project Director As I write, we’re still less than two weeks into the lockdown following the outbreak of COVID-19.  Already we are adapting to the current situation by emphasising different ways of working and helping people safely.  In the past fortnight I’ve taken part in more group meetings by Skype, MS Teams, Zoom, WebEx, and WhatsApp than in whole of the preceding year. I’m working at a desk at home that I’m often sharing with my son while he completes schoolwork.   If I’m not attentive enough, I catch episodes of Red Dwarf through the corner of my eye being dual screened via Netflix while he’s, I’m told, also working on his maths.  This proves he has the same comedic taste (and guile) as me when I was his age.  As I ask him to turn off Lister and friends to focus on his work, I’m reminded by the current crisis of the opening line of Red Dwarf’s theme tune:   “It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere.  I’m all alone.  More or less.”   It would be easy to get into that mindset in the current lockdown situation.  Like the crew of the Red Dwarf we could feel like we’re locked… Continue Reading

COVID-19: Ending the Interim Accommodation Duty and Mental Capacity

VOICES ending iterim accommodation
Co-written by Bruno Ornelas (Head of Service and Safeguarding, VOICES) Fiona Bateman (Chair, CASCAIDr)   Does a Local Authority have the right to end the interim accommodation duty early due to the applicant’s behaviour in the face of COVID-19? And what consideration should be given to the person’s mental capacity to make cognizant and capacitous choices?   During these unprecedented times, local authorities and the wider health, care and housing workforce are confronted with difficult decisions when planning and applying responses to individual and systemic barriers that are inevitably exacerbated by COVID-19. Last week central government mandated that all local authorities accommodate all rough sleepers – a compassionate response to COVID-19 for those living on our streets. As the situation unfolds it will undeniably require difficult decisions to be made under new and exceptional conditions with limited resources, time or information. People experiencing multiple disadvantage with issues linked to housing and homelessness seldom become ‘problem free’ once their ‘rooflessness’ ends, or when the move away from the streets begins. Rather, those first few nights are the most critical in a person’s transition. As homelessness provider services and local authorities work tirelessly to ensure that ‘everybody is in’, hotels and bed and breakfasts will undoubtedly be challenged to accommodate… Continue Reading

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