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Wolverhampton Information Network

FAQs - SEND Support during Covid-19 Measures

We recognise that this is a really troubling time for families and we wanted to help by updating you about what is happening with relevant services locally as well as responding to some questions that we have received via our Parent & Carer Forum Voice4Parents.

The Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS), Local Offer and MASH for social care queries are remain good first points of contact.

Other information:

The Council for Disabled Children has published 6 issues of responses to
questions asked during Covid measures and have also have a Covid 19 Support Hub:

Further information can be found at Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group.

Will you provide advice and guidance in one place?

The City Council website is the first point of contact for advice and guidance regrading Covid-19 measures, this links to the Local Offer for specialist information regarding SEND and other sources of help and support.

Update on Health Services

COMMUNITY CHILDREN’S NURSING SERVICE

Our Community Children’s Nursing Service continues to run as normal 7 days a week, 0830-1700, with the weekend and bank holidays having a reduced service to cover essential visits only such as wound care, injections, IV antibiotics and enteral related issues. The support we offer is for nursing care queries or activities. Our nurses will also still offer 24 hour support including face to face visits for any end of life patients. We can offer telephone support as well as face to face visits. We may try and reschedule visits where we can, if the child or family member within the home has symptoms that may suggest they have the CIVID-19 virus. If we do visit the home, our nurses will be wearing personal protective equipment that includes a mask, to protect the child and family as well as the nurse.

If you have any queries or relating to your child’s care or are concerned and need advice and support then please do not hesitate to contact us on 01902 444700 Monday-Friday. On a weekend please ring 01902 307999 and ask to be put through to the Community Children’s Nursing Service.  

SPEECH & LANGUAGE THERAPY (SLT) SERVICES

SLT have a some staff in the office base including admin.  We are able to reply to emails (rwh-tr.Speech-And-Language@nhs.net) and take phone calls (01902 444363).   

All other SLT staff are working remotely from home.

All redeployed staff have now returned to SLT.

We have continued to run the service for Dysphagia (swallowing difficulties) throughout the pandemic, while maintaining safety for children, families and staff

We are currently offering telephone reviews to families for children already on the caseload for Communication needs.

We have put together work packs for all children who had begun therapy and for those who were due to start therapy. These have been shared with families.

We are contacting all new Communication referrals by phone to triage and offer some initial advice.

We are offering therapy where it is appropriate via video conferencing platforms approved by the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust 

Families have spoken about how pleased they are with the flexibility of approach and they say they are pleased that their child’s needs are being met

We are beginning to reintroduce face to face appointments for Communication work where this appropriate, ensuring that children, families and staff are safe by using appropriate PPE and properly managing the clinic environment.

PHYSIOTHERAPY AND OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY SERVICES

All staff are based at the Gem Centre , and redeployed staff have returned to the team

Some members of the Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy team work directly in special schools to deliver therapy support to pupils who have an EHCP which identifies this provision. The work takes place with due regard for small group ‘bubble’, and with adherence to PPE guidelines

Where face to face appointments have been cancelled we have either spoken to the family directly, followed up with a letter with contact details, or sent a letter outlining the plan. The exact course of action has been tailored to fit needs. Follow up telephone or video calls are available to support children and families while they wait for appointments, and this has helped to identify which appointments need to be prioritised for face to face appointments when they are re-introduced. New referrals are likely to be assessed via video call at the first appointment, and follow up face to face visits will take place if needed. The family and child will participate in the decision making. 

We continue to work together with the wider teams, mostly by telephone/video, enabling us to attend a variety of multi-agency meetings, for example Annual Review of EHCP. Children and young people who are transitioning to another setting have been prioritised, with access visits taking place when convenient, often when no other pupils are present.

We are carrying out regular video consultations where appropriate, and have had a very positive response to this, with some families reporting that their child responds positively to the therapy team. We have had specialist equipment delivered to homes where possible, and ensured that families know how to use the items, and are familiar with the therapy plans. Where equipment needs to be adjusted due to growth or development family are supported via video call in the first instance, with face to face visit if needed.

Occupational therapy and Physiotherapy have identified online resources. Further sessions will be recorded to enable wide access. Video films of exercises and written activities have been shared, for example via SNEYS newsletter.

There are some barriers to effective video or telephone calls in some situations, and sometimes it is impossible to work effectively using remote communication. This is taken into account when planning face to face appointments.  The therapy rooms at the Gem Centre have been reconfigured to ensure safe practice and social distancing.

The office numbers are 01902 446290 and 01902446302. Emails can be sent to  rwh-tr.childrenstherapyservices@nhs.net this email box is opened every day.

ORTHOTICS

Orthotics have now had guidance from BAPO regarding virtual clinics for orthotics which is now back up and running, with virtual and telephone appointments, face to face appointments for very urgent patients only.

Patients and families can contact Orthotics on the usual number 01902 694082 8:30 – 16:30 Mon – Friday or email us at rwh-tr.orthoticservice@nhs.net

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

Base 25 are offering virtual counselling as appropriate and Specialist CAMHS are offering a choice of phone or video call therapy.

Crisis, Eating disorders team and Early Intervention in Psychosis are working as normal.

The contact details for all is still 01902 444021 which is the usual number for the Single Point of Access (SPA).

24/7 Helpline Covid 0345 646 0827​ 

https://www.wolverhamptonhealthyminds.nhs.uk

CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE IN CARE

All initial health assessments will be conducted by the Community Paediatrician at the Gem Centre on a face to face basis following an pre-arranged appointment

Review health assessments will be undertaken by the Named Nurses or Paediatric Advanced Nurse Practitioners. Many of these appointments will be undertaken via a Trust-approved video-link but some will be face to face if necessary

Further appointments will be negotiated between the nursing team, parents and young people

COMMUNITY PAEDIATRICIANS

Community Paediatricians continue to offer clinic appointments. Many of these appointments have been converted in to telephone/video consultations in the first instance (parents/carers will be made aware of this prior to the day of the clinic). We are also offering face to face appointments where necessary.

Only one parent/carer is to attend the appointment with the child.  All parents/carer must wear a face covering to their appointments. Though not mandatory, it is advised that all children over 3 also wear face coverings if they can. It is preferable that patients and parents/carers bring their own face covering, but the Gem Centre does have a stock for those that require it. Hand sanitiser is also to be used upon arrival to the Gem Centre, and it is requested that no one arrives more than 15 minutes early to their appointment time

What steps have schools taken to make sure they are safe for the return of pupils?

The Department for Education (DfE) have released Guidance for Full Opening: Schools. This includes information on preventative measures, such as personal hygiene, enhanced cleaning routines, minimisation of contact between individuals and grouping of children.

Schools have worked through the system of controls, within the guidance, and adopted measures in a way that addresses the risk identified in their assessment, works for their school, and allows them to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum for their pupils, including full educational and care support for those pupils who have SEND.

Please contact your child’s school, setting or provider for more information about the measures they have taken or visit their website.

What are the expectations regarding prevention measures from families, such as daily washing of uniform etc.?

The DfE Guidance states: Uniforms do not need to be cleaned any more often than usual, nor do they need to be cleaned using methods which are different from normal.

Advice to protect yourself and others from the spread of covid-19 is:

  • wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • use a tissue for coughs and sneezes and bin it.
  • avoid touching your face, including your mouth and eyes.
  • get up to date information about staying at home or what to do if you feel unwell on the NHS 111 website.

What guidance, advice and support has been provided, from the local authority, to schools in Wolverhampton?

The City of Wolverhampton Council have worked closely with schools since the announcement of the initial Covid-19 measure to fulfil the ambition that we have good, safe and stable education provision for all children and young people. 

Guidance for Schools Employees and Education Providers has been published on the City of Wolverhampton Council website.

The Director of Children’s Services has expressed her delight in the way that schools and settings across the city have responded to the rapid changes.

How do you plan to bring SEN children back into school? Will it be a gradual return to ease them into transition?

The City of Wolverhampton Council has worked with schools to support them as they have expanded provision for more pupils.

For more information about schools and colleges reopening please visit the national guidance on education and childcare.

How will mainstream schools manage the return to school, as the numbers for them will be much bigger and will children’s needs with send or EHCPs could get overlooked?

The City of Wolverhampton Council has worked with schools to support them as they have expanded provision for more pupils; children and young people are now expected to receive their pre-lockdown provision.

For more information about schools and colleges reopening please visit the national guidance on education and childcare.

Will 1:1 support in mainstream schools remain if this is with the EHC Plan?

The City of Wolverhampton Council is working closely with schools; children and young people are now expected to receive their pre-lockdown provision.

Will teachers have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)? Many children rely on facial expressions for communication who will this be possible with staff wear face masks?

The Dfe Guidance for Full Opening: Schools states:

‘The majority of staff in education settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work. PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases, including:

  • where an individual child or young person becomes ill with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms while at schools, and only then if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained
  • where a child or young person already has routine intimate care needs that involves the use of PPE, in which case the same PPE should continue to be used’

What is to be done to help children who refuse to go back to school, difficulties with routines/compliance children who are coming back from school exhibiting sensory overload?

The Inclusion Support Service has worked with schools to identify children and young people that may experience difficulties in returning to school in order to provide access to advice and support.

If you have concerns regarding your child, please contact their school directly for reassurance.

Will fines be enforced for students that do not return to education?

The prevalence of coronavirus (COVID-19) has decreased and the Department for Education has provided clear guidance about the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments within schools.

Now the circumstances have changed, it is vital for all children to return to school to minimise as far as possible the longer-term impact of the pandemic on children’s education, wellbeing and wider development.

The City of Wolverhampton Council plan to work with schools and families to promote attendance and support children and young people returning to school, from September.

Fines and prosecution are only pursued as a last resort, when other options to promote attendance have been exhausted.

For more information about schools and colleges reopening please visit the national guidance on education and childcare

Would there be a risk of losing future provision if families refuse to return children and young people to school?

Pupils of compulsory school age must be in school unless a statutory reason applies (for example, the pupil has been granted a leave of absence, is unable to attend because of sickness, is absent for a necessary religious observance etc).

If children do not attend school in September, they will remain on roll and this would be treated as unauthorised absence. If parents choose to withdraw children from school and elect to educate at home, then it would not be possible to guarantee that pupils could access the same provision again.

Will EHC plans be revised if families refuse to return children and young people to school?

Pupils of compulsory school age must be in school unless a statutory reason applies (for example, the pupil has been granted a leave of absence, is unable to attend because of sickness, is absent for a necessary religious observance etc).

If children do not attend school, they will remain on roll and this would be treated as unauthorised absence. If parents choose to withdraw children from school and elect to educate at home, then their EHC Plan would be amended.

Pupils of compulsory school age must be in school unless a statutory reason applies (for example, the pupil has been granted a leave of absence, is unable to attend because of sickness, is absent for a necessary religious observance etc).

If children do not attend school, they will remain on roll and this would be treated as unauthorised absence. If parents choose to withdraw children from school and elect to educate at home, then it would not be possible to guarantee that pupils could access the same provision again.

What will be put in place to explain risk to children that clearly understand the situation but will still display anxieties regardless?

The Inclusion Support Service has worked with schools to identify children and young people that may experience difficulties in returning to school in order to provide access to advice and support.

If you have concerns regarding your child, please contact their school directly for reassurance.

For more information about schools and colleges reopening please visit the national guidance on education and childcare

Further advice and information is available on the Local Offer Coronavirus Information and Advice Page.

Public Health England have also published Guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic 25 June 2020

What is being provided to support children and young people’s mental health?

Information in the How Parents can Support Children during Covid-19 Measures, on the Local Offer Coronavirus Advice and Information Page, provides advice for supporting children and young People’s mental health

Wolverhampton Healthy Minds offers psychological therapy services for people experiencing common mental health problems such as low mood, depression, anxiety and stress; for individual aged 16 or over, that live in Wolverhampton or are registered with a Wolverhampton GP.

Young people under the age of 16 that would like mental health support can call the 24/7 Mental Health helpline on 0345 646 0827.

The current offer from Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service is available in the Update on Health Services section of this web page

Public Health England have also published Guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Are children with breathing issues safe to return to school?

Specialists in paediatric medicine have reviewed the evidence on the level of risk posed to children and young people from COVID-19. The latest evidence indicates that the risk of serious illness for most children and young people is low.

From 1 August 2020, the government paused shielding unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly.

This means children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can go back to school.

What reassurances can be provided to high risk parents about the safety of returning their child to school?

Shielding advice for all adults and children will pause on 1 August, subject to a continued decline in the rates of community transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). This means that even the small number of pupils who will remain on the shielded patient list can also return to school, as can those who have family members who are shielding. Read the current advice on shielding.

What if my child contracts Covid -19 at school?

If anyone in an education setting becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell, they will be sent home and advised to follow the guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

They should self-isolate for at least 7 days and arrange to have a test to see if they have coronavirus (COVID-19.) Other members of their household must self-isolate for 14 days from when the initial household member first had symptoms.

If your child tests negative, they can usually return to the setting and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation subject to confirmation from local health protection professionals.

Will therapy sessions that have been missed during Covid-19 measures be caught up with?

The ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty brought in as part of the temporary legislative changes, recognised that there might be a change in the way provision would be delivered given the response to the local crisis.  Local authorities and health commissioning bodies were offered advice on how to exercise their new ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty and a framework was offered for consideration. This framework meant that:

  • If usual provision could not be made, something different to the provision stated in the plan was secured.
  • That the location for provision could be changed if this was deemed lower risk.
  • The frequency and timing of provision could be altered or modified in the light of available staff and risks that may cause harm
  • The method of delivery may be altered, e.g. virtual rather than face-to-face and smaller rather than larger groups for teaching (in line with the guidance on reducing transmission of coronavirus)
  • Changes could be made to the person delivering the provision, e.g. a learning assistant under virtual supervision rather than a specialist therapist or teacher

There is no suggested expectation that missed therapy sessions will be caught up.

The current offer from Health Services is available in the Update on Health Services section of this web page.

Will therapists be able to attend school to provide services?

The Dfe Guidance for Full Opening: Schools states:

‘Specialists, therapists, clinicians and other support staff for pupils with SEND should provide interventions as usual.’

The City of Wolverhampton Council and Wolverhampton CCG are working closely with schools; children and young people are now expected to receive their pre-lockdown provision.

How will school transport be managed?

The Travel Unit are working closely with Schools to identify the risks arising from coronavirus and adapt our transport to address the identified risks whilst allowing children to attend their educational establishment. Csocial distancing will be maintained at the recommended gap of 1 metre +.  Our aim is to provide travel assistance to all eligible children.

In addition to this, the feedback from special schools was that contracting additional dedicated school transport services would be most helpful. Our Travel Unit have been working on route planning and given the current guidance on restrictions, information from schools in relation to school bubbles, the offer of Personal Travel Budgets etc the service remain confident that we can deliver a 100% of the demand.

Further information regarding the management of school transport is available in the national guidance on education and childcare.

Is it safe for children and young people to travel to school on public transport?

Schools are being asked to encourage parents, staff and pupils to walk or cycle to school if at all possible.

However, these options will not be suitable for all.

Families using public transport should refer to the safer travel guidance for passengers.

To enable all pupils to travel to school safely there is a need for families and schools to consider the travel arrangements for their children and pupils. Feedback has been requested from school leaders regarding school travel, paying focus on what supportive measures the LA could implement that would be helpful for schools.

A range of measures were put forward which participants then ranked in order of helpfulness as follows:

  • Staggering start and finish times.
  • Promoting active travel.
  • Accepting a temporary increase in car usage
  • Reducing demand for other public transport at start and end of school day.
  • Contracting additional dedicated school transport services.

Staggering start and finish times is a decision for individual schools to make and will certainly help manage the flow of pupils in and out of school at the start and end of the school day. However, this may impose additional pressure on transport providers regarding the frequency and timing of services.

In her letter to all council Chief Executives, Baroness Vere, challenged Local Authorities to promote active travel with a view to achieving 50% of pupils walking or cycling to school daily. This is an extremely challenging target and the Local Authority will be putting together a support scheme to try and push this agenda.  For example, As part of the emergency measures primary and pre-schools will be able to sign up to Living Streets Wow (walk on  Wednesday ) programme . We anticipate this will be available from September but will have more details late August.   https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/policy-and-resources/our-policy/walking-to-school.

We have a Covid-19 secure model for delivering Bikeability training. For any schools that would like to enhance their sustainable travel initiatives within school then Bikeability is an excellent way of doing this. In the first instance schools should make contact with Maria Williams via maria.williams@wolverhampton.gov.uk to explore the possibility of getting booked onto the programme.

Following on from discussions with National Express and TfWM, we have been advised that they are starting a new digital platform for school scholar bus passes and provision of Swift Cards. This allows application and processing over the internet and will permit students to travel in the evening and weekends as well as school time.


Advice from WM Travel

Get ready to travel back to school

Travelling back to school or college this September will be different. All buses, trains and trams will be out on the West Midlands network, ensuring that students can get to and from school or college. However, capacity on board will be reduced to support social distancing measures. This means there may be more of a wait during busy times so you will need to plan ahead and leave more time for your journey.

Keeping passengers safe is our priority so we’ve upped cleaning on board and have added measures to support social distancing.

Face coverings are required in all transport hubs and on board, including on dedicated transport, for anyone over 11 years old, except those exempt with a medical or health condition. 

Try something different this September

Cycling and walking are great ways to stay active and to complete shorter journeys, such as the journey to school or college. Cycling and walking can help cut delays around schools and keep space available on buses, trains and trams for those who have no other option or are travelling further.

There are a number of cycling and walking schemes in place or being put in place across the region. You can check to see if there are any on your route to school here www.wmnetwork.co.uk/campaigns/roll-stroll/

If you plan to drive, consider parking or dropping off a few streets away from the school gates and walking the remaining short distance. This saves you being stuck in traffic and keeps the roads safer around the school, reducing the chance of collisions or injuries.

Our dedicated website has the latest information on bus, train and tram services, helping you plan your journey back to school or college this September – www.wmnetwork.co.uk/schooltravel 

What support will be provided by social services?

The Disabled Children and Young People’s Team (DCYPT) service is fully operational virtually and Social Workers and Family Support Workers are supporting and signposting parents and carers as situations/issues arise.

  • ALL DCYP cases are receiving visits unless they have asked not to due to shielding or quarantine reasons in which case the visit will be virtual. The risk register is undercontinual review in case stricter measures are imposed again.
  • DCYP & SENSTART have discussed all young people with Education, Health and Care Plans that are not allocated to a Social Worker and cases that require it have been referred to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub assessment.

Further information is available in the  DfE Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children's social care services

What opportunities for short breaks and respite are available during this time?

Short Breaks are being provided albeit on a reduced offer due to agency capacity (although this has increased as lockdown has eased), some parents/carers have already stopped their support during the Covid pandemic. Disabled Children and Young People’s Team (DCYPT) has prioritised those who want to recieve short breaks due to missing theirs.

Progress is offering a community support group can be offered again where possible.

DCYPT will not be reinstating all those where parents chose not to use short breaks due to lockdown.

Is guidance available regarding the use of direct payments, for example the furloughing of personal assistants?

If Direct Payments are not used, they will not be lost and if PA’s cannot provide support then the parent/carer would not be expected to pay. The issue of PAs not receiving pay etc would be taken up with their agency where appropriate.

Direct Payments are being used more creatively and, in some cases, have agreed the purchase of toys/materials particularly outdoor toys.

The Department for Health and Social Care has released Guidance for commissioners, people receiving direct payments and care providers

What support has been provided for unpaid carers?

Support can be requested from Wolverhampton Carer Support Team.

The Department for Health and Social Care has also released Guidance for those who provide unpaid care to friends or family.

There are some children and young people with SEND that refuse treatment, what measures will be taken if they fall ill?

Each child or young person’s needs will be considered on an individual basis and all appropriate endeavours made to keep children well.

Prescriptions

Pharmacy delivery services are under extreme pressure and a number of them are doing deliveries for those who cannot collect but please make contact with them and explain your individual circumstances.

Guidance for families if their child or young person is on the vulnerable or extremely vulnerable list:

Numbers for Emergency Supplies

Numbers for emergency supplies, continence products, medical equipment

Children’s Community Nursing Team and Therapists may be able to advise.   

  • ENTERAL i.e. Nasogastric or gastrostomy - For any enteral enquiries around equipment and ancillaries, contact Homeward on: 0800 093 3672
    • OFFICE HOURS - Monday to Friday 8am until 8pm and Saturday 9am until 1pm. Outside office hours, advice and support is available on pumps, equipment and feeding tube problems but not on individual deliveries

0800 093 3672

www.nutriciahomeward.co.uk   https://www.nutriciahomeward.co.uk/home/

CONTINENCE - Any issues around continence and stock ring the Continence Department on 01902 446149

MEDICAL EQUIPMENT - Any queries or concerns around the medical equipment for your child or ancillaries then please contact the CCNS team on 01902 444700

How do parents deal with concerns when concerns aren’t being passed on?

The impartial and confidential Information, Advice and Support Service is able to advise parents on any concerns in relation to CYP with SEND aged 0-25 on matters relating to education, health or social care. 

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