Category Archives: Social care

Woodbridge – County news Jan 2021

Local Coronavirus Update   The rate of COVID infection increased in Suffolk over the Christmas break, leading to a new national lockdown on the 6th of January. As of the 24th January there have been a total of 24,503 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Suffolk, which is a third more than there were on 6th January.

However, on 6th January, COVID infections were 517 per 100,000 while now they are 334, which is below the national average..

Since the pandemic started, there have been 879 Suffolk deaths where there was COVID-19 on the death certificate, and 1054 deaths within 28 days of a COVID test in Suffolk.

In Woodbridge 41 People tested positive for COVID-19 in the week up to 19 January equivalent to 498.3 per hundred thousand resident population: this was down on the week before, but still is a high number (well above the UK average of 406 per hundred thousand). However the population numbers of a place like Woodbridge are so small that looking at infection in terms of numbers per 100,000 can be misleading.Over the same seven day period, East Suffolk reported 727 new infections, down by 332 from week before. This means that the rate of infection in East Suffolk as a district is 348 per 100,000 residents. As the figures are updated daily, it is worth checking them out on https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/ where you can get figures by postcode.

t is clear we need to continue sending out the same hands, face, space message and ensure people realise it really applies to them personally.

Vaccination Strategy At a briefing on Suffolk’s Vaccination Strategy last week we were told that Suffolk had speeded up vaccinating after a relatively slow start: and had quadrupled COVID-19 vaccinations over the last week. The Pfizer vaccine had been used since early December, and the Oxford AstraZeneca from January.

This is the largest vaccination effort in history and is being rolled out as a partnership between councils, NHS organisations, voluntary and community organisations overseen by the CCG. Patients who have a mobile phone will receive a text and those who do not are being posted first-class letters.

However there is ongoing debate about the government’s decision to delay the second dose until 12 weeks after the first dose There is ongoing debate about the UK government’s decision to delay the second dose of vaccine until 12 weeks after the first dose, instead of following the recommended dosing interval of 21 days.

In our area delivery is by the Suffolk GP Federation, which is running the COVID-19 vaccination programme for 28 of the county’s 62 GP practices (This must not be confused with your actual GP surgery). Priority is as the national priority list:

1. Residents in care homes for older adults and their carers
2. 80-year-olds and over and frontline health and social care workers
3. 75-year-olds and over
4. 70-year-olds and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
5. 65-year-olds and over
6. 16- to 64-year-olds with serious underlying health conditions
7. 60-year-olds and over
8. 55-year-olds and over
9. 50-year-olds and over

Critical deadlines: all Suffolk care home residents should have received their first vaccination by Sunday 24th January. We were assured that the first 4 cohorts should have received their first vaccination by 15th February.

The key message is: Don’t not contact your GP: you will be contacted, by text or by letter. The Federation is aware of anomalies – they were made aware of many in the briefing I attended – and is doing its best to fix them as soon as possible.

As a separate issue, I am contacting the CCG to see where exactly the Cinderellas of social care: the unpaid family carers sit within this.

As many clinically extremely vulnerable people live at home, supported solely by a family member, it would seem appropriate that they are always vaccinated in the same cohort and at the same time as the person they care for,
More information from https://sneevaccine.org.uk/

New Head of Adult and Community Services: Georgia Chimbani
Georgia was a social worker for 25 years, working in London boroughs, unitary authorities, and county councils. She has also worked in hospitals and with voluntary organisations. Her most recent role was director for local delivery in the south of Essex. Equality and diversity are very important values to her, and she believes in promoting individuality and self-determination. She wants to help service users become independent and live a good life, whatever that might mean to them.

Georgia will be devoting the first few weeks of her time to listening and learning, understanding the way things are done in Suffolk.

I have raised concerns that certain specifically older people are having to choose between being either unsupported or directed toward support they do not want, through a corporate mantra of ‘choice,” pointing out that often they are in situations not in any way of their own choosing. She has promised to look at individual cases I have three on hand, but if anyone has any egregious examples please contact and I can put them all in together.

A wild landscape: trees, reeds, reflected in a running streamLDGI Biodiversity strategy adopted
You will be very pleased to know that at Suffolk County Council unanimously passed a motion that will see Suffolk County Council developing a biodiversity strategy and embracing biodiverse land management practices. The motion was proposed by the LDGI Group and supported by all other groups. I was asked to second it but unfortunately was still convalescent. The motion will ensure:

• Delivery of a biodiversity strategy that will set out how we could increase Suffolk’s biodiversity, halt the loss of habitats and species, and reintroduce declining species in suitable locations.
• Assessment of how the council can lead organisations across the county in efforts to improve biodiversity.
• Adoption of biodiverse land management options on council land.
• A letter to the Secretary of State asking what further support can be made available to local authorities to enhance bio diversity within their areas.

The SCC Budget 2021-22 & Medium Term Financial Plan
SCC is currently preparing its budget for 2021-22, and my group will be contesting some proposals. The long-term Budget Gap ( the difference between forecast resources and expenditure) is looking gloomy, with a predicted constant overspend leading to a predicted cumulative budget gap of just under £160m by 2024-25.

Consultation on the Suffolk Climate Change Action Place  SCC is currently running a consultation on its proposed Streets Guide, which will assist with the design of new residential developments showing how best to create sustainable transport layouts that promote walking and cycling.

A new Street Guide has been commissioned to update guidance for residential streets. Comments on the draft guide are welcomed and there is a survey to complete. The consultation closes at 5pm on 10th February 2021.
Link: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/planning-waste-and-environment/planning-and-development-advice/suffolk-design-streets-guide/

Locality Budget  I think I have now spent my full locality budget, having provided 9 laptops for lower-income students. I say ‘think’ because there is a small amount that might be returned. If so I plan to spend it on benches or noticeboards for the community.

What’s been happening: my December report

I apologise that I continue unwell, after contracting Coronavirus at the beginning of November and am not yet back to normal working.

As  local Coronavirus figures are of especial interest to local residents, you can find regularly updated figures here:

https//digital.nhs.uk/dashboards/coronavirus-in-your-area

Suffolk Coronavirus update to 10 December
As of the 8 December there have been 8,103 total lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Suffolk of which I am one. In total there have been 1,064 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people. This is the lowest overall COVID-19 case rate in the East of England.

District case rate as of 8 December 2020

 

 

I am told that from 2 July, the number of lab-confirmed positive cases now includes those identified by testing in all settings (pillars 1 and 2). Pillar 2 refers to tests in commercial labs working in partnership with the NHS. Previously, only Pillar 1 confirmed cases were included (tests completed in NHS labs). Due to this change many cases previously not attributed to any area are now included in area totals. This is not a recent surge in cases – the cases now being reported occurred from April onwards. As the quality of this data continues to improve, these numbers may continue to fluctuate over time, but overall, case numbers and case rates in Suffolk remain low compared to the East of England and England as a whole.

Following the lifting of the four week national lockdown in England that ran from 5th November to 2nd December, all districts within Suffolk are in Tier 2.

In the 7 days up to the 8th December there have been 665 new cases of COVID-19 in Suffolk. This is an increase on the numbers in the previous week.

The rate of new weekly cases in Suffolk has increased and is now, at 76.6 cases per 100,000 people. This is below the rates for the East of England region (135.8 / 100,000) and for England as a whole (151.0 / 100,000).

In total, up to the 27th November, there have been 632 deaths in Suffolk where COVID-19 was recorded on the death certificate. There have been 20 COVID-19 related deaths in the last 7 days.The estimated ‘R’ value for the East of England is between 0.9 and 1.0 which has decreased in the last week, but remains slightly higher than the ‘R’ value for England (0.8– 1.0).

Pavement Parking Consultation Following the Government’s announcement of a consultation on potential reforms to the law on pavement parking – which I have mentioned in a previous report – I responded as Councillor for Woodbridge supporting option 3. I recommended other councillors and members of the public did the same. Like me, my group submitted a response supporting Option 3: a nationwide roll-out of a London-style ban on pavement parking.

Local Government Boundary Commission consultation on draft recommendations
My SCC LDGI Group submitted a response to this consultation, objecting to the proposed reduction in councillor numbers, which makes little sense given Suffolk’s growing population and the increase in councillor workload.
The Group also registered concern that the proposals from the boundary commission adhered too closely to suggestions received from the Conservative administration at the County Council. Some of the proposed division boundaries appear to divide traditionally non-Conservative communities and attach them to strongly Conservative areas. This means that the five council seats lost will largely impact non-Conservative councillors and increase the hegemony of the Conservative administration even further.
Finally, the Group objected to multiple instances of cohesive communities are being divided and lumped into divisions with other towns and villages with which they are not closely connected.
I as County Councillor, together with other persons and groups have put in co-ordinated revisions for Woodbridge, and the larger part of east Suffolk, in the hope of persuading the Boundary Commission to provide a more logical solution than the previous bizarre East Suffolk proposals.

County Councillors Local Highways budget As you know I have been saving my highways budget so that it could be used for the much needed calming and speed reduction measures to protect Woodbridge residents now, and so save from increased traffic in the future (particularly with the impact of Sizewell and Brexit). It has been a bone of contention with Suffolk Highways for the least years. Councillors were recently told that their budgets had to be committed by 10 December, or be lost by 31 December, but I have agreed with Highways that the Local Highway Budget funds set aside for this project are moved from the Suffolk Highways LHB team into the Transport Strategy team and be ring-fenced for my control.

Roadside sensors installed As part of the Live Labs trial project for ‘A Smarter Suffolk’, two roadside sensors will be installed during December:
• A roadside temperature sensor on a streetlighting column on the A12 near Woodbridge
• A salt use sensor inside a grit bin on Burkitt Road, Woodbridge (outside Woodbridge School)
Sensors are being deployed at different environmental conditions in urban, rural and coastal locations. It is hoped that these sensors – two of a variety the project is trialling: cameras with radars to measure vehicle classifications and volumes; road surface temperature sensors; air quality monitors; wind speed / direction gauges and gully monitoring sensors.
could revolutionise the way services are delivered by local authorities through the collection of more localised data from across the county.The two-year £4.4m ‘Smarter Suffolk’ research project (funded by the Department for Transport) will run until the end of 2021, supported by BT Adastral Park and the University of Suffolk as well as various sensor technology providers.

Successful biodiversity motion At Full Council on the 3rd December, the LDGI Group proposed a biodiversity motion, asking for:
• Delivery of an SCC biodiversity strategy.
• Assessment of how SCC can lead partner organisations in this field.
• Adoption of biodiverse land management options on SCC land.
• A letter to the Secretary of State calling for a clear and ambitious national biodiversity strategy
This was unanimously passed, which is excellent news for Suffolk.

OFSTED initial report on SCC’s SEND services released An initial report has been published by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) looking into the support for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Suffolk was one of eighteen local authorities taking part in the study to gather evidence to inform future national improvements for children and young people with SEND across Education, Health and Care.
The initial findings of the report suggest that SEND services were maintained during lockdown in Suffolk, and workers have increased collaboration and co-production. The stress level of young people and families had risen, but the County Council has established dedicated services to provide support, including distributing family support boxes to over 2000 families, and running a campaign called Back to School, aimed at helping SEND children transition back into school life.The findings of the initial report can be read here: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/assets/council-and-democracy/council-news/Area-SEND-Interim-visit-summary-note.pdf

Carers Rights Day took place on 26 November with even less than Suffolk’s usual lack of official concern. This year the Covid pandemic has made the situation for Britain’s unpaid carers – statistically more often women than men – worse than ever. New research published by charity Carers UK shows that unpaid carers provided support valued at £530 million for every day of the pandemic. Some was due to the increase in those needing care because of the pandemic but part of this increase was because much of the limited support enjoyed by carers evaporated in lockdown.
As I am sure fellow members of the Woodbridge Emergency Response Group can testify.

 

Carers Rights? Do us a favour!

Today is Carers Rights Day. Always something to bring a wry smile to the face of your average unpaid carer.  Carers rights?  Wrongs more like.

And this year the Covid pandemic has made the situation for Britain’s unpaid carers – statistically more often women than men –  worse than ever. New research published by charity Carers UK shows that unpaid carers provided support valued at £530 million for every day of the pandemic. Some must have been due to the increase in those needing care but I am sure part of this increase was  because the limited support  enjoyed  (o so enjoyed) by carers evaporated in lockdown.

The numbers of unpaid carers  also rose in 2020 – from the pre-pandemic 9.1 million (57% women) to the current appalling 13.6 million  (1 in 5 of the population). An extra 2.7 million women (59% of the  4.5m increase )  and 1.8 million men have started caring for relatives who are older, disabled, or living with physical and/or mental disabilities -because of the pandemic.

So, on Carers Rights day, how about pondering what human rights our country’s 13.6 million unpaid family carers actually have?

Right to equality? Try it. Next time someone asks what you do, say you are a family carer, and watch how your status slips. Your work is not even worthy of pay. Your conversation, contacts, experience not worth their time.

Freedom from discrimination? In law maybe, but in real life? How many carers suffer constructive dismissal? How many never get employment? And how many carers can say, hand on heart – they were never discriminated against because employers, colleagues, party remenbered they were covered under the Equality Act 2010 by the protected characteristic of the person they cared for? I certainly can’t.

Freedom from slavery? Many carers work around the clock 24/7 without a break, without pay, without consideration. And I do mean work. Slavery? I say nothing.

Right to remedy by a competent tribunal/ right to fair public hearing/ right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Carers remain the punchballs, relied on as workhorses by paid and unionised professionals to do unstinting work on their behalf, and yet all too often  they also are Cinderellas who can be blamed, opinions dismissed or even find themselves demonized without redress for pointing out any mishap.

Right to Rest and Leisure. When a carer works 24/7, this is truly laughable.

Right to Adequate Living Standard? The meagre Carer’s Allowance for carers who care more than 35 hours a week (currently £67.25 a week and an unpaid Carers’ only benefit) cannot be claimed if a carer is young, a student, retired, or earning more than £122 net a week. This means the government expects an unpaid carer to live on a maximum of £10,140 a year – if they manage to wrap some work around full time care.  Does that seem adequate to you? It’s £27.78 a day.  Compare that with recent complaints that £150,000 was not enough for Boris Johnson to live on.

The bottom line is that carers wouldn’t need a Carers Rights Day if the state had ever given unpaid Carers any meaningful rights.

Carers need to be seen as the workers they are, so that the real cost of that care:  the often long and unremitting working hours, the loss of careers, the impact of poverty and poor health, the absence of employment-related pensions – all these might be factored into the support offered them.

And then that support was offered!