COVID-19 staff updates

Staff update, Wednesday 22nd April 2020


Take one minute to track your symptoms daily on the COVID-19 tracker app, even if you feel well, and help scientists to see how many potential cases of COVID-19 there are. So far over 700,000 of us are joining in using this special wellness tracker app – let’s do our bit to help end this crisis sooner and give researchers all the information we can. Sign up here:


COVID-19 testing for support workers


The great news is that as a frontline organisation, our support staff are eligible for COVID-19 testing if they show symptoms of the virus. This is amazing news for us as it means that those who are feeling ill and anxious about what it might be can get the answers they need, and help further protect their friends and families and the people we support. There’s a COVID-19 test centre set up in Liverpool which we can access. We’ll be contacting people who are eligible at this point.


Remember that it’s vital you let your manager know if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 – whether you’re a support worker or another member of our team.


Are you sitting comfortably?


Are you working from home? Have you done your working from home assessment form yet? You’ve got until 30th April to fill out the HSA 10 form on Teams and get it signed off by your manager. Find it here.


If you have any concerns, chat to your line manager as soon as you can, or email the health and safety team at


Your health and wellbeing when working from home is important and we want to support you with it. For tips and suggestions about staying safe and well while working from home, have a read of this bit of guidance. It might help to give it a read before you fill out your assessment form.


Safeguarding big virtual chat:


Safeguarding is of course always a mega important part of what we do at PSS, and at the moment all of your knowledge is coming into its own. As we face this pandemic head-on, we’ve already started to see a significant increase in safeguarding alerts and we’ve seen more referrals to our domestic abuse services.


It’s now really important that we keep your knowledge fresh and up-to-date, so come along to our safeguarding big virtual chat on Wednesday 20th May, 10am-11am and join Simone, our head of quality, for a training session in the form of a big old chin wag about all things safeguarding. If you’re due safeguarding refresher training, this will do the trick and count as your required learning. So if that applies to you, please do come along. And if it doesn’t, come along anyway and let’s make a difference.


Got something you’d like to chat about? Want Simone to answer a question in particular? Got a suggestion for someone you’d like to hear from either within PSS or outside of PSS? Simone wants to base this session on what you need – so jot your suggestions down on an email and send it to Simone by 4th May:

**end of update**


Staff update: Wednesday 16 April 2020


Grieving for loved ones during COVID-19


Losing someone is hard at any time. But at the moment, things might feel especially hard for those of us who have lost someone. We’re likely to grieve much differently than we have before, especially if someone has passed away as a result of COVID-19.


There are some really useful resources available to us to help us cope with loss during this time. They may be helpful for you if you’ve lost someone you love or you’ve had a difficult experience at work, or they may be useful to share with someone you know.


Cruse Bereavement Care has produced some really helpful resources about grief and coronavirus.


The Irish Hospice Foundation has also produced a video about grieving in exceptional times.


Access to bereavement support


GriefChat is a safe space for grieving or bereaved people to be able to share their story, explore their feelings and be supported by a qualified bereavement counsellor. GriefChat can also help bereaved people consider if they need additional support and where to get this from.  Using GriefChat is free and open Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm (UK time).


Confidential support at any time


Everyone is having a very different response to this strange time – and how each of us feel is completely valid. There’s no right or wrong way to feel, and nobody. Talking about what we’re feeling can help us to process and make sense of things, no matter what we’re going through.


All PSS staff have access to a free and confidential service that can support you over the phone, if you feel you’d like to talk to someone privately about how you’re feeling. You can call our employee assistance programme at any time, 24/7, 367 days per year on 0800 072 0353 (quote PSS when asked). You can check it out at


If you’re feeling anxious, have a chat to your manager about your worries and what you need. They will try to support you.


Our wellbeing channel on Teams


We are now going to be posting all things wellbeing on our new wellbeing channel on Teams. Find it under The Big PSS Team on the left-hand menu. This channel will allow everyone to easily find posts, videos, images and information to boost your wellbeing through these difficult times.


Please don’t post about work on your social media


This is a really hard time for everyone, and lots of us use social media as a way to get support from our friends and family with how we’re feeling. But please remember that you shouldn’t be posting any personal information at all about the people we support on your social media, no-matter what your privacy settings might be and whether or not you use any names. It’s not only a breach of that person’s personal privacy and data protection rights (and their family’s), but it also goes against our code of conduct. It’s a really serious mistake to make and will mean you might face disciplinary action. So please be sensible, respectful and professional when it comes to social media.

**end of update**

Staff update: Wednesday 6th April 2020

PPE: who should wear what, and when?


This week the World Health Organisation has given us some guidance about when we should and shouldn’t be wearing personal protective equipment (otherwise known as PPE) to help stop the spread of COVID-19.


It turns out, that unless you’re caring for someone who has virus symptoms, things like face masks aren’t much good – in fact, if you’re a healthy person just wearing a mask to protect yourself from potential germs, wearing a face mask can actually make your risk of getting the virus worse.


According to the WHO, there’s ‘no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by healthy persons can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.’ They also explain that wearing a mask when just out and about actually makes you more likely to touch your face – to adjust the mask under your eyes – and therefore break one of the golden rules of virus prevention: not to touch your face. Not to mention the fact that a lot of face masks you can buy aren’t medical grade and therefore aren’t water repellent (think DIY material ones), so any droplets that are in the air are absorbed by the mask instead of repelled (yuck), increasing your chance of infection. That’s a whole lot of risk – and totally gross.


Should you wear a face mask or other PPE if you’re a support worker?


If you’re a support worker, you should only wear a mask if someone you’re supporting has symptoms of COVID-19. Otherwise, you don’t need to wear one. You can wear other PPE, like aprons and gloves, for example, if you usually do while supporting someone with personal care, or if the person you’re supporting is ill.


If you do need to wear any PPE, make sure you follow the guidelines to do it right. Chat to your manager if you’re not sure what PPE you need.


Should you wear a face mask if you’re a healthy person out and about?


No. There’s no evidence to say it’ll protect you, and things like face masks and other PPE like aprons and gloves are in really short supply all around the world. Let those who really need them have them. Instead, to protect yourself and your family, you should keep your hands away from your face, keep a 2m gap between you and those around you if you’re out and about, be aware of what you touch, keep washing those hands and remember – we’re all in ‘lockdown’ for a reason; stay home and save lives.


If you want to read the WHO’s full report about PPE, you can do that here.


Cancelling your leave between April and June


We know that taking leave at a time when we can’t do lots of the things we’d normally do on annual leave may seem, well, a little bit rubbish on first glance – especially when our hols abroad have been cancelled. We’ve seen a lot of people start to cancel their leave between April and June for this reason. But don’t forget that taking your annual leave throughout the year, even if you’ve got no plans to jet off somewhere new, is vital– it’s a well-earned break from work, no-matter what that break looks like (even if it means finally painting the living room again, teaching the kids to ride a bike, or reading your favourite book all over again). We can’t pour from an empty cup, so please don’t cancel your leave just because your usual leave plans can’t go ahead – take the time out to switch off from work instead. You might even just want to reduce your time a little if you’ve got two weeks booked off – and that’s totally fine – just see if you can still take that little bit of time to have a break.


Not only that, but we’re going to get in a right pickle if we all cancel our leave and try to take it off all at once when this is all over – we’ll end up with a battle on our hands within teams for who can have annual leave and when! After all, we can’t all jet off at once.


For these reasons, but mainly for your own mental health and wellbeing, your manager will be encouraging you not to cancel any leave you had booked between April – June (hello managers, your briefing about this and other bits and bobs is on its way).  We’re all settling into a new kind of normal now, and a break is really important from the noise of everything that’s been going on.


How are we doing? Take the survey by Sunday 19th April.


We’ve teamed up with an external company called Agenda to do a survey of how you’re all getting on during this weird and uncertain time we’re all going through. We want to see what we could do better to support you, so we’d love it if you could take five minutes to go to and take the survey. Agenda are doing surveys like this with lots of other health and social care organisations, and it’s a great way for us to see how the current working environment is affecting how we do things and how we feel. It’s completely anonymous and handled by someone outside of PSS – we just get an anonymised report at the end. So don’t worry about anything you say being traced back to you – it won’t, promise – just be honest.


If you could save someone’s life, would you? Or would you knowingly make things worse?


It’s not often we get the privilege to call ourselves lifesavers, but at the moment, every one of us has the power to save at least one life, just by doing something simple: staying home. To stop the spread of the virus, it’s absolutely vital that despite the sunny weather, despite the bank holidays, despite the fact it’s Easter coming up – we all follow Government advice and stay home to save lives.


We’re only just starting to see the very early benefits of our efforts over the last few weeks, but it’s not enough – we’re heading towards the peak of UK cases. This is a really, really important time in our battle against the virus. If we stay home and follow Government guidance, the next few weeks could see us starting to beat it. If we give up now and give in to the sunny weather, we could be undoing all the good work we’ve done in the last few weeks. But more importantly, we’d be putting lives at risk.


Not only does breaking Government rules about isolation risk our own lives, the lives of our friends, family, people we support, the NHS and the other people around us, but also our colleagues: think about those PSS people going out to work every day to support others while lots of us work from home. If we can slow down the spread of the virus, we’re helping to protect them – and the people they support – while they do their jobs.


So please, please stay home – it’s the least and the most you can do. If you clapped for our team, the NHS and other key workers on Thursday (or even if you didn’t), please do the right thing: put your good intentions into action and be a lifesaver.

 **end of update*



Staff update, Thursday 2 April 2020: a new guide to everything you need to know about COVID-19.


Here’s a handy guide to everything you need to know about COVID-19, including frequently asked questions about your role, your wages, your health and safety, your learning and development and your wellbeing. It contains advice from all of our experts in central services – so if you get stuck, use this guide; it’s full of the most up-to-date info we can give you. Read it here: FAQs about coronavirus

-end of update-

Staff update, Monday 23 March 2020: using school hubs, drivers wanted and financial support available

Only use school hubs if you really need to

The great news is that as providers of social care, our children can go along to school hubs. This is because the important work we all do has been recognised by the Government as essential. This is going to be a great help to those of you who can’t work from home and who don’t have alternative childcare arrangements.


What we don’t want to do is put any unnecessary pressure on school hubs. Children in schools are currently not being taught lessons as usual – schools are just offering childcare, like a child-minding service. This means that our children aren’t missing any vital teaching by not going to school.


If you can’t work from home and need childcare, but don’t feel comfortable with your children going to school, please know that you can take unpaid leave if you need to. Have a chat to your manager.


If you have family circumstances that may be especially difficult, for example, if your children have an EHCP or you’re caring for someone at home who can’t access their usual care and support, let your manager know and we’ll see what we can do to help.


If you get ill with COVID-19


Just a few reminders about what happens if you’re off ill with COVID-19:


  • You can now self-certify for 14 days if you have symptoms of COVID-19. That means you can be off with symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days without a doctor’s note. If you’re off work with an illness that isn’t COVID-19 symptoms, you can be off without a doctor’s note for 7 days as usual.
  • Our Occupational Sick Pay Policy will cover you if you fall ill with COVID-19. This includes people who are in their probationary period with us.
  • If you’re off with COVID-19, it won’t trigger our attendance management policy.


Drivers wanted in central services


Do you work in our finance, business development and innovation, learning and development, people and culture or quality team? Do you have a car? Would you be willing to give lifts to people in our operational services who need to get to work?


If you would like to help, please drop a line to with ‘Driver’ in the title of your email.


Financial support for PSS people from Salary Finance


Salary Finance is our employee benefit that can help reduce financial stress, which may be helpful for some of you during these uncertain times. Their loans are typically more inclusive and competitive than traditional lenders, especially when it comes to debt consolidation or finding yourself in a financial emergency.


By linking repayments to your salary, they’re able to significantly reduces their costs, which means they pass the savings straight to customers, offering highly competitive interest rates. For loans under £5,000, they offer a price promise which means if you get it at a better rate, they’ll match it.


Find out more at


-End of update-


Staff update, Friday 20 March 2020: our children can go to school next week


The Government has announced a list of people whose children will still be able to go to school when the schools close. The list is of ‘key workers’ – people who do really important jobs and who are needed most right now as we battle the COVID-19 outbreak.


All of us at PSS are on that list as people who support and deliver social care.


This is going to be such a huge help for so many of you who we know care so much about continuing to provide a service to the people we support at such a difficult time.


At this point the Government have been unclear about whether you’re still able to send your child to school if you have a partner able to take care of the children who doesn’t work in a job that’s on the list of key workers. Those of you who are single parents definitely will be able to send your child to school as usual next week.


Also included are parents of children who are ‘supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.’


Here’s the full list of key workers:


We’ll update you on this page as soon as we know any more.


Until then, thank you so much for your continued determination

-End of update-