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Client Coronavirus Information Hub
Wednesday, 11 March 2020

ENS Coronavirus update

Our priority is to ensure the safety of both our staff and the people we care for, which is why our procedures are under constant review following the latest government advice. We’ll update this page when we have more to share.

What do ENS workers need to do?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Because our Support Workers and Nurses are key workers, it’s extremely vital YOU ALL stay at home, unless you’re leaving the house to go to work, or for food or health reasons. You can learn more about the new lockdown restrictions here.

As of 29th April it is now possible for all key workers, over 65s, care home residents and staff to access COVID-19 tests for themselves and their household. The aim is to ensure essential staff can avoid unnecessary self-isolation and return to work. Apply for a test here

The government has also launched a new, free app for staff in the Social Care sector. Not only will it deliver key information, updates and guidance, but it'll give you access to mental health support and other benefits. Search 'Care Workforce' on the Google Play Store or App store and download today.

It’s also key that you take all of the recommended infection control measures, such as frequent handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds.

Please ensure that should you experience any of the symptoms described below that you do not attend work, and follow our usual sickness reporting procedures.

  • A new continuous cough OR
  • High temperature (hot to the touch on your chest or back; you no longer need to measure your temperature)

If you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.

If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. More info and advice for staying at home.

If someone has serious symptoms they cannot manage at home they should use NHS 111 online (people should only call NHS111 if they cannot get online). If they have not had any signs of improvement after 7 days and have not already sought medical advice, they should use NHS111 online (people should only call NHS111 if they cannot get online) before they leave their home.

It is your responsibility to inform us if any of these situations are relevant to you, or if you or anyone close to you tests positive for the virus.

Important changes to our process for payslips

Due to our contingency planning, we’re making a change to our process for payslips and timesheets.

Please could you scan/photograph and email us a clear copy of all of your timesheets, rather than posting paper copies to our offices. The email needs to be sent to accounts@ensgroup.co.uk and received by midday on a Tuesday for payment that Friday. We will endeavour to continue to process paper timesheets for as long as we are able to.

  • Before you take a picture of your timesheet, check to see that it is fully completed and signed correctly.
  • When placing your timesheet on a background, position your camera so that only the timesheet is included in the frame.
  • Make sure that all of the timesheet is included in the picture.
  • Your timesheet must be flat. Not curved, curled, creased and / or folded.
  • Make sure that the light is good.
  • Hold the camera directly above the timesheet (holding it at an angle will distort the writing).
  • Make sure you hold the Camera/phone steady.
  • Only include one timesheet per photograph.
  • Before you send the image to the accounts team, check that it is clear, readable and complete.

Going forward, we will only be able to email your payslips. The vast majority of our workers already receive their payslips this way, however we will no longer be able to post payslips.
If you currently receive a posted payslip please contact Megan on 01702 361426 or mcraigie@ensgroup.co.uk and we will set you up to receive them by email.

We will continue to email urgent updates directly to our workers. Those who have chosen not to receive emails from ENS should expect urgent updates to be issued over the phone. Alternatively, you can visit this page to check for updates.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our HR team. Call 01702 361404 or email HR@ensgroup.co.uk

Securing schooling for your child during COVID-19

Although the schools have now closed to the public, they are staying open (where they can) for the children of ‘key workers’, including:

“…care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain…”

Although this is a helping hand for many of you, it’s clear that the objective of closing schools is to slow the transmission of COVID-19. If it’s possible for children to remain at home, they should do so.

Please also note that parents should not rely on childcare from those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with an underlying condition.

Please expect schools to be in the difficult position of having to work to these new requirements over the coming days.

We recommend that if parents are struggling to keep their children in school, they should draw the school administrators’ attention to the full guidance produced by the Cabinet Office and Department for Education. There is also a question and answer web page for parents and carers.

What steps are in place to protect me?

The government has put in place a series of measures to ensure people who can no longer work, or have been made redundant, can receive financial support, where needed.

The following information may be useful to answer a few questions you may have:

I’ve been off work with COVID 19 symptoms or because I had to self-isolate

You will be entitled to statutory sick pay. The payment is worth £94.25 a week and can paid for up to 28 weeks, however for self-isolation it will be paid for a maximum of 14 days.  The rules have also been changed so that statutory sick pay can be claimed from day one rather than day four as previously.

If you need to self-isolate, please complete the online self-isolation form and email to payroll@ensgroup.co.uk.
You can also get an isolation note here, should you need one. https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/.

Is there any other help available?

The sums available through the universal credit standard allowance and the basic element of working tax credit, are both being increased by £1,040 a year for 12 months.

Local councils have been given a £500m hardship fund so that they can help vulnerable households by reducing council tax for those who receive local council tax support.

How do I know exactly what I can claim?

To find out what your circumstances make you eligible for, use one of the benefits calculators offered by charities. TurntoUs has one (This site is very busy so make sure you take note of the reference on the front page in case of an issue).

I have a mortgage and no work

You can use the mortgage payment holiday scheme announced by the chancellor to stop your payments for three months and give yourself some breathing space.

Lenders have been told that they must not charge fees for this, but there will be an additional cost over the term of your mortgage as interest will be building on the money you haven’t paid off.

Your lender should outline the financial implications if you decide to take up the mortgage holiday. You need to contact them directly. Phone queues are very long but some are offering the service online so check your bank or building society’s website.

Lenders have been told that they must not repossess anyone now.

I can’t pay my rent

The local housing allowance for renters has been increased so that it covers up to 30% of the market rent in your area. This will help anyone who already claims universal credit or separate housing benefit.

If you do not already claim a benefit and you are losing your job, you will be able to claim for support for housing as part of a universal credit application.

There have also been moves to prevent landlords from evicting tenants, although these just prevent eviction for three months rather than the usual two.

Speak to your landlord if you are having problems. Buy-to-let landlords have the option of taking a payment holiday and passing it on. It will cost them more for their mortgage in the long term, but they may be willing to accept that extra cost or negotiate a way to share it.

The minimum income floor for universal credit claims has been removed – this should increase what you are entitled to. The standard allowance for a single universal credit claimant aged 25 or over is usually £317.82 a month but it is being increased to £409.89, and there are other elements you may be entitled to.

Couples can claim more, but if your partner is still earning an income, that will affect how much you can claim.

You can apply here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit

What is furloughing and does it apply to me?

We’ve been asked by a number of our staff whether or not they can be “furloughed”.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was announced by the government recently. It is a way for a business to keep staff on the payroll if they can no longer operate, or have no work for their staff due to COVID-19. If you’re applicable for this scheme, your employer will pay 80% of your wages, during which time you cannot work.

Unfortunately our staff are not eligible to apply for ‘furlough’ as ENS is still running, and we still have plenty of work for those under our employment.

If you’d like to learn more about this scheme, read more. If you have any further questions please contact the ENS HR Team.

What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?

The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:

  • cough
  • difficulty in breathing
  • fever

Generally, these infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

How does it spread?

The spread of COVID-19 is most likely to happen when there is close contact (within 2 metres) with an infected person. Respiratory secretions, produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, are the most likely means of transmission.

There are 2 main routes by which people can spread COVID-19:

  • Infection can be spread to people who are nearby (within 2 metres) or possibly could be inhaled into the lungs.
  • It is also possible that someone may become infected by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching door knob or shaking hands then touching own face). Our current understanding is that the virus doesn’t survive on surfaces for longer than 72 hours.

There is currently little evidence that people without symptoms are infectious to others.

How can we prevent the spread of infection?

These are the things we all MUST do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay indoors, even if you don’t show symptoms. Only leave the house for food, health reasons or work (where this is absolutely necessary).
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people and avoid all social events and gatherings of more than 2 people.
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home. Use soap and water for 20 seconds, or use alcohol sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if handwashing facilities are not available.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin. See Catch It, Bin It, Kill It.

If someone has serious symptoms they cannot manage at home they should use NHS 111 online (people should only call NHS111 if they cannot get online).

We will update you further if the situation changes. As many of you will be providing support to people who are extremely vulnerable, it is vital that you follow the guidance above in order to play your part in helping to reduce the spread.

Should you have any questions or queries then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Thank you all for your continued hard work and cooperation during this time.

ENS Team

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What people are saying about ENS

I feel I would like to give a positive review on working for ENS in any care capacity. I joined at the start of December 2015 and have been offered enough work to fit around my own needs and other commitments. The work has been varied and I received good information prior to the visit. The excellent dedicated back office support staff and they clearly understand their clients’ needs which are aligned to the qualities of the Support Workers, this helps builds the relationship.

While there is a need for help at short notice to meet the company needs I have been further impressed to have good notice of most of the work intended. My role has been largely Community Support but I have worked with our Residential team and clearly there is plentiful work again with helpful support.

In my dealings with the company I have found the ENS team to be helpful and approachable and need to reiterate how impressed I have been. Thank you to all involved.

Graeme

A big thank you to you and all of the booking team that have put up with me over the months and helped me get an amazing full time job, Thank you :)

RD

Maria Meddle (ENS Senior Recruitment & Compliance Officer), I would like to use this opportunity to say a big thank you for taking your good time in dealing with my application. Thank you Maria once again for helping me get out of unemployment, I sincerely appreciate all the effort and support you gave me during this period.

NA