Business Healthy Newsletter, 8 July 2020
This newsletter is designed to provide a roundup of news, updates and information that may be useful in helping you to keep your workforce healthy and well. It is written in a way to make it easy for you to cut and paste content to share across your internal communications channels. If there is a way we can make this easier, please let us know here.
Business Healthy is funded and delivered by the City of London Corporation’s Public Health team, supporting the City Corporation’s statutory obligations to ensure the health and wellbeing of the more than half a million people who work in the Square Mile each day.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information and advice
Employers want to keep their staff informed about the Covid-19 pandemic. There is lots of information and misinformation out there, so please ensure that any advice or guidance you are sharing only comes from a reputable source, such as the GOV.UK website.
This information was accurate at the time of sending the newsletter, but please bear in mind that the situation is changing and the most up to date information and guidance can be found on the GOV.UK website.
The UK Government is regularly updating its latest information and advice webpage on the GOV.UK website. Specific guidance is available for employers and businesses on working safely during coronavirus. The guidance covers a range of different types of work and further guidance will be published as more businesses are able to reopen.
Employers must continue to follow health and safety workplace guidance for their sector such as:
- making every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option
- where working from home isn’t possible, identifying sensible measures to control the risks in the workplace
- keeping the workplace clean, maintaining safe working separation, and preventing transmission through unnecessary touching of potentially contaminated surfaces
The measures employers put in place to maintain social distancing will depend on their individual business circumstances, including their working environment, the size of the site and the number of workers. The guidance will support employers to make an informed decision.
The introduction of the NHS Test and Trace service does not change the existing guidance about working from home wherever possible.
Travel to and from work
The Government is asking people to work from home where possible. Where staff are unable to work from home, they are being asked to follow guidance on travelling safely during the coronavirus outbreak, which includes considering all other forms of transport before using public transport, avoiding the busiest times and routes, maintaining social distance, wearing a face covering when travelling on public transport and washing or sanitising hands regularly.
Employees who are “shielding”
The Government has advised that from 1 August, guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be relaxed, so that they no longer have to “shield”. Those who need to work and cannot do so from home will be able to return to work from this date, as long as their workplace is “COVID secure”, adhering to the guidance available.
Individuals unable to work from home may feel uncertain about returning to work. Mindful of this, the government is asking employers to ease the transition for their clinically extremely vulnerable employees, ensuring that robust measures are put in place for those currently shielding to return to work when then are able to do so.
For anyone concerned about returning to work once the guidance has eased, they are advised to speak with their employer about the employer’s specific policies in relation to COVID-19, as well as the individual’s situation, agreeing a plan for returning to work and adjustments that may be needed before they return.
Should the level of disease in the community rise in the future, it may be necessary for the Government to advise that more restrictive measures should be taken in order for those at highest risk to keep themselves safe.
Sharing the message
An NHS video on the best way to wash your hands can be viewed here. Please watch and share and keep sharing. Thorough handwashing is one of the most effective ways to help stop the infection from spreading.
City and Hackney COVID-19 Local Outbreak Control Plan and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Like all other local authorities, the City of London and London Borough of Hackney – which share a Director of Public Health and Public Health function – have been asked by Government to publish a COVID-19 Local Outbreak Control Plan (LOCP), which can be found on the City Corporation’s website.
The LOCP outlines how the two local authorities are working to combat COVID-19 in partnership with national and regional stakeholders. It also outlines operational roles and responsibilities for each responding service and organisation, in response to local clusters, outbreaks of cases in high-risk areas, communities or settings within the City of London and/ or Hackney.
The LOCP is dynamic, will be reviewed regularly and may be subject to change, in response to evolving outbreak conditions, scientific evidence and Government and other national guidance.
As part of the Plan, a series of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) is in development, outlining how outbreaks will be reported and managed by Public Health England, with support from the local authority. There are SOPs for a range of different settings, including workplaces – a key setting in the City of London.
The SOPs also outline the process through which information about an outbreak (2+ positive COVID-19 cases) linked to a setting, can flow in a timely manner between the setting, the local authority and Public Health England. Information about this process will be shared through this newsletter shortly.
COVID-19 Testing and Tracing
By following Government guidance to protect the safety of their workers, as well as other people who may be affected by their business, employers can reduce the risk of co-workers having to self-isolate if a member of staff tests positive for COVID-19.
NHS Test and Trace
If a member of staff develops symptoms of COVID-19 – whether they at work or working from home – they and their household must self-isolate immediately and get tested for coronavirus. Although this may seem disruptive for businesses, it is less disruptive than an outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace will be, and far less disruptive than periods in lockdown.
The test only checks if someone has coronavirus at that point and involves taking a swab of the throat and nose. Anyone of any age with symptoms can access a test. More information about the NHS Test and Trace service can be found on the GOV.UK website and a test can be booked on the NHS website.
The symptoms are:
- a new, continuous cough and/ or
- a high temperature and/ or
- a loss of change in normal sense of smell or taste
The test needs to be taken within the first 5 days of having symptoms, but it’s best to ask for the test in the first 3 days, as it may take a day or two to arrange.
For help booking a test, call the Coronavirus Testing Call Centre on 119 between the hours of 7am and 11pm. The service can be accessed by people with hearing or speech difficulties by calling 18001 119 (in England and Wales). To receive the test results you will need a phone number and – if you are booking the test online – an email address. If you do not have either of these, you can nominate someone to receive the results on your behalf. Their telephone number and/ or email address will need to be provided when you book the test.
Essential workers, or those living with essential workers, are prioritised for testing.
Guidance on why and how employers can support staff who may need to self-isolate can be found in the “Supporting workers who need to self-isolate” section of the Government guidance on NHS Test and Trace. This also includes information about Statutory Sick Pay for employees who are self-isolating and not able to work from home, as well as guidance for workers. There is also specific workplace guidance on NHS Test and Trace.
Temperature checks: efficacy and effectiveness
Public Health England (PHE) does not recommend temperature checks are used at transport hubs, workplaces, or other non-clinical settings to screen for possible COVID-19 cases.
This is because temperature checks are an ineffective screening tool for several reasons, including, but not limited to, the following:
- it is possible that individuals who are infected may not be displaying symptoms
- thermal scanners and handheld thermometers measure skin temperature, which is an inaccurate measure of core body temperature
- temperature checks using handheld infrared thermometers require the person conducting the screening to be within close proximity of the individual, therefore violating social distancing measures and presenting a health risk to the “measurer”
Supporting the City’s “hidden” workers
While people who work in the City of London tend to be richer, younger and in a higher social grade than workers elsewhere in the capital, there is a large and mostly “hidden” workforce working behind the scenes in routine, service and manual roles, which helps the Square Mile to operate as a business, visitor and cultural destination. They tend to be less well-off, older and in a lower social grade.
There is a growing body of evidence highlighting inequalities faced by people working in routine, service and manual roles. Many individuals working as part of the “hidden” workforce face inequalities that have direct and indirect consequences for their health. These can include low pay and/ or poor working conditions, language barriers or lack of understanding of the health system and how to access it, or working multiple jobs and/ or during nights or weekends, making it difficult to access healthcare support.
During the pandemic, many of these “hidden” roles, such as those in the cleaning and security sectors, have been identified as “essential” and workers have continued to travel to and from the City to undertake them.
In addition, “hidden” workers in the City may be more likely to come from BAME backgrounds and experience poorer health. They may belong to communities that have experienced high numbers of death and severe disease as a result of COVID-19 and the emotional, social and financial impacts of the pandemic may continue to be felt for some time.
The spotlight that the impacts of the ongoing pandemic has shone on health, and other inequalities linked to the “wider determinants” of health, provides an important opportunity to engage key stakeholders, such as employers and clients and address health inequalities among the City’s “hidden” workforce in recovery planning.
The City Corporation’s Community Safety team is developing a campaign to raise awareness of the issues faced by these workers and is seeking insights from City firms to help shape the campaign. Please show your support by spending a few short minutes completing this anonymous survey.
Virtual Dragon Cafe in the City – TODAY (Wednesday 8 July)
The much-loved Dragon Cafe in the City continues to deliver its fortnightly Wellness Wednesday sessions, despite lockdown, helping City workers to release the pressure through a range of free creative activities.
Sessions are delivered virtually and the next session is taking place today, Wednesday 24 June, with activities including:
- Houmous making workshop
- “Life in Monochrome” portrait workshop
The award-winning Dragon Café in the City is free and open to anyone working or living in the City and provides a safe online space for them to release the pressure, take a break from their busy routines and engage in creative activities designed to foster positive mental and physical wellbeing.
To access a PDF programme for the next session and joining instructions, please visit the Dragon Cafe in the City website.
You can subscribe to automatically receive the Dragon Café in the City programme into your inbox in advance, by visiting the website and signing up at the bottom of the page.
Free webinar on “Sleep” – 14 July, 4-5pm
(Part of Thrive LDN’s “Coping well during COVID-19” public webinar series)
London’s health and care partners are delivering a series of free weekly NHS-led webinars focusing on helping those who both live and work in London to cope with the impact of COVID-19. Londoners may be feeling incredibly anxious about coronavirus and how it is impacting them, their loved ones and London’s businesses.
For more information, visit the Eventbrite page.
Suicide Prevention Awareness session, Friday 24 July, 9-11am
- “Makes me see how important it is to step in if you see someone who looks like they’re suicidal”
- “This is a difficult subject that was communicated with compassion and sensitivity to provide a valuable learning experience”
These quotes come from attendees to previous Suicide Prevention Awareness sessions, hosted by the City Corporation’s Public Health team, in partnership with Samaritans and the City of London Police.
City firms and their workers have an important role to play in local suicide prevention efforts. Recognising this, short, bespoke Suicide Prevention Awareness sessions have been delivered to the local business community on a regular basis over the past four years.
These highly interactive sessions are aimed at people working in HR, Facilities or Security in the Square Mile, though they are open to all.
With greatly reduced footfall in the Square Mile as a result of the ongoing pandemic, the upskilling of workers who continue to travel in and out of the City to enable them to intervene if they come across someone in crisis is more important now than ever before.
The next Suicide Prevention Awareness session will be held online (via Zoom) on the morning of Friday 24 July (9-11am). To maintain the highly interactive nature of the session, spaces are limited to 20 and are reserved on a first come, first served basis.
To find out more and to book, visit the Eventbrite page here.
Thought of the week
“COVID-19 has had substantial negative impacts on mental health across the population. The biggest impacts have been on the gender and age groups – broadly women and the young – that already had relatively low levels of mental health. Pre-existing inequalities in mental health have therefore been exacerbated by the crisis.”
– Findings from a study into the mental health effects of the first two months of lockdown and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, conducted by the University of Essex with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council
Other key findings include:
- An additional 7.2 million (14%) of people aged 16+ report experiencing a mental health problem “much more than usual”
- The scale of this deterioration in mental health is of a magnitude unlike anything we have seen in recent years
- The share of people who report experiencing at least one mental health problem “much more than usual” has more than doubled, from one in ten (10%) to almost one in four (24%) of those aged 16+
- The groups hardest hit overall are those who already had the worst mental health, and experienced the worst recent trends, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Controlling for other relevant factors, key workers had less of a deterioration in mental health, whilst those who were laid off, had young children, or had COVID-19 symptoms on the day of the interview had greater deterioration
Thrive LDN’s Workplace Wellbeing Toolkit
Thrive LDN is a London-wide movement to improve the mental health and wellbeing of all Londoners. It is supported by the Mayor of London and led by the London Health Board partners, including the NHS and Public Health England.
Many people who live and work in London are feeling anxious about COVID-19 and how it might impact them, their loved ones and London’s businesses. These are challenging circumstances and it is normal to feel upset, anxious or confused at times.
As the coordination point for city-wide public health messaging, Thrive LDN is encouraging all Londoners to think and talk more about mental health and wellbeing. In addition to producing and disseminating London-specific mental health content, Thrive LDN is also signposting Londoners to the wealth of free support that is available.
To assist employers during this time, Thrive LDN has published a “Workplace Wellbeing” toolkit that outlines free resources available to help support individuals’ mental health and wellbeing, as well as guidance on how employers can support their employees.
The toolkit can be accessed here and covers:
- Support for having difficult conversations
- Managing your own mental health and wellbeing
- Further support
- What can I do to promote positive mental health and wellbeing?
- Questions for self-reflection
- Tips for a facilitated session
Public Health England’s “Health and Wellbeing at Home” resource
Even as social distancing measures are relaxed, the COVID-19 pandemic means everyone is likely to spend more time at home, and we know that this may have an effect on physical wellbeing.
Being indoors frequently can pose challenges to keeping active and eating healthy, balanced meals.
Public Health England (PHE) has published a blog via Exposure, which addresses some of those challenges and shares information, tips and resources for supporting good nutrition and physical activity.
Access the resource here.
Refuge places for male victims and survivors of domestic abuse
Male victims and survivors of domestic abuse in London, who are looking to flee and who have the tools to manage their own tenancy, are able to access crisis accommodation within and outside of London.
This is being provided by Victim Support, in partnership with Shelter and social justice charity Nacro, with funding from MOPAC (the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime).
In addition to crisis accommodation, specialist domestic abuse support and longer-term housing support can also be provided.
The crisis accommodation will be provided for up to three months, and longer-term housing options will be sought during this time by the assigned IDVA and Nacro Housing Support Worker. Shelter is also providing specialist support within this partnership, and will provide clients with more complex housing cases to ensure all men are supported.
For information and help to access this support, please contact the London Victim and Witness Service on 0808 168 9291, or email the project’s Senior Operations Manager.
There is lots of free and confidential support available if you are experiencing, or are at-risk of domestic abuse. Visit the “Domestic Abuse Support and Information” page on the City of London Corporation website.
Where history, food and drink collide: Our City Together
“Our City Together” is a collaborative project from the City Corporation, bringing together cultural organisations and partners across the Square Mile. This new online platform showcases music, art, film, lectures, photography and much more.
One of the latest features on the Our City Together website explores the relationship between the City’s history and food and drink. We won’t give everything away, but visit the feature to find out about “Tudor bananas” and learn what connects one of the world’s most influential writers, a British film icon and two notorious gangsters; bound to give you some pub-quiz-winning trivia!
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Previous editions of our newsletter can be found here.