28 May 2020

Read Sarah O'Brien's latest blog where she talks about the importance of handwashing and following social distancing guidance as we move out of lockdown and towards a strategy of test and trace.

Hi everyone

I hope you’ve all been managing to safely enjoy the summer weather we’ve been having.  Whilst it feels that everywhere I look at the moment that lockdown is coming to an end, the rules and guidance remain in place for a reason.  Coivd-19 is very much still with us and the impact of the pandemic is greater in the Liverpool City Region than anywhere else.  Numbers of deaths and infections in the North West of England remain some of the highest though they are decreasing – certainly since the government’s ‘stay at home’ message was dropped, infection rates rose again in a number of places. 

I know it’s been hard and we’ve all made sacrifices, not seeing family and friends, forgoing our holidays and so on. Whilst we expect some further changes to lockdown rules this week it remains imperative that social distancing continues and that we all follow the rules and guidance to help prevent a second wave of the virus hitting our NHS services:

  • Meeting one other person from another household outside keeping a distance of at least 2m from them
  • You can't visit friends or relatives in their houses or indoors. Nor can you gather in a larger group with people who are not from your household
  • You can exercise outside as much as you want, and drive to places in England to walk, run, sunbathe etc
  • Wash your hands with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds after you have been outside your house
  • You are advised to wear a face mask when in an enclosed place, such as the supermarket or on public transport.

As the advice continues that if you can work from home, you should, I really want people to make sure they segregate 'home' and ‘work’ whilst working at home to make sure they get a work life balance. I have certainly been struggling with this and have recognised it is important to do this.  I try and have what I call a ‘wellbeing’ walk every day to get some fresh air and clear my head – it definitely makes a difference. 

With regards to the pandemic response in St Helens, a lot of work is currently going on in the background led by Sue Forster our Director of Public Health to have local plans ready for testing and tracing.  The national NHS test and trace system has launched today and we will be supporting this locally and will communicate and explain this as the process evolves further.

The Covid-19 crisis has really brought to the fore nationally the challenges for the care home sector.  We are working hard to support adult social care, public health the CCG quality team led by our Chief Nurse, Lisa Ellis, to meet all new expectations for care home support stipulated by NHS England and the national government.  The team has led on the training of care home staff on infection control and safe donning and doffing of PPE and we are on track to have cascaded this training across all care homes in the borough in the next day or so –this wil make us one of the first place in the Cheshire and Merseyside area to do this which is testament to how well integrated our health and social care teams are.

The NHS overall remains in level 4 emergency mode plans for opening up normal activity are ongoing but there are many challenges -  in particular the public have told us that they are nervous about attending for normal healthcare appointments so we are having to do everything we can to increase confidence and encourage the public to access health care where it is necessary – especially if they have symptoms the are worried about that could indicate a serious problem such as cancer, stroke, heart problems etc.  Our primary care teams and GP practices are working closely on how to get GP services re-established, keeping all the innovations that Covid-19 has enabled us to put in place such as video consultations but equally, ensuring that those who need and benefit from face to face contact can continue to receive that care safely.

Reset and recovery work is ongoing at a North West level, Cheshire and Merseyside level, St Helens Place (both through the council and CCG) to reflect on everything that has changed and learn lessons - both positive and negative - for how the system needs to be as we move out of the peak of the pandemic

I think that’s all for now – lots going on as ever!  I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone working in Integrated People's Services – whether you’re in health or social care – and those delivering services on the front line  I can see people really pulling together with the main goal of keeping our residents safe and well.

'Til next time.  Sarah