We know that this is a very difficult time for everybody.
All public sector workers are working very hard to keep essential services going as well as keeping residents and employees safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
At Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole (BCP) Council and Dorset Council, we have already changed the way they work in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with a large amount of the workforce providing services by working at home and contacting residents by phone or email. This is so we can we can maximise social distancing guidance while still providing council services.
All of our employees who are well and working, routinely wash their hands whenever possible or use alcohol hand gel when this isn’t possible.
Where social distancing or working remotely is not practical, that is where the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is considered.
Some residents may be in contact with council employees and are worried about the fact not everyone is wearing PPE.
Sam Crowe, Director of Public Health for Dorset Council and BCP Council said: “This is a very challenging time for everyone. Coronavirus has not only changed the way in which we provide our services, but also the risks to which our frontline employees are exposed to.
“The safety of our frontline employees and residents is extremely important.
“We use national guidance together with our own risk assessments to make sure our employees can maintain essential services safely.
“You will see employees who are safe and well and who do not come into contact directly with residents, not wearing PPE and that is ok. Other council employees who are coming in to contact regularly with people carrying out care and support in the community will be wearing PPE.”
Where council employees are likely to come into close contact with people who have either contracted coronavirus or are showing possible symptoms, additional PPE may be required. If this is the case, PPE can include – but is not limited to – face masks, disposable aprons/bibs, hand sanitiser and gloves.
Employees who are visiting or caring for residents in extremely vulnerable groups will always wear PPE, but will only wear a facemask if that vulnerable resident has either contracted coronavirus or is showing signs of possible symptoms.
Residents may see council employees such as home care workers and social workers who are visiting families wear PPE.
Some employees in our services such as crematoria services and registrations, where face-to-face contact is needed, will be following social distancing measures, such as keeping a distance of 2m where possible but will not be wearing PPE if they are well.
The councils expect any employees who start to fall ill with symptoms of coronavirus to self-isolate and to not work or go out.
It’s also important to remember that unlike NHS or medical staff, council staff are not generally in close proximity contact with members of the public for long periods of time.