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Response to COVID-19

National Star staff wearing PPE protective masks and clothing
National Star is committed to proactively managing the current situation regarding the Covid-19 pandemic so that we can stay open and maintain services for students and long-term residents.

As an education and care provider, National Star receives guidance from Government and local authorities. All of this guidance forms the basis upon which National Star makes its decisions.

We will remain open, as we have done throughout this pandemic, to provide care and education to the young people entrusted to us. 
We had anticipated that we would face additional restrictions this term and have tailored the services, such as learning being temporarily based in residential groups, to ensure they suited the needs of the young people and adults we support while keeping them safe and well.

Many of the infection control and testing procedures we have put in place are above and beyond those initially recommended by the Government, Public Health England and Wales and the Care Quality Commission. These high levels of infection control will continue and will be reviewed as we receive further guidance.

We are currently reviewing our services as we receive guidance around the lockdown. Our intention is to run as many of our services as we can. 

COVID-19 Remote Learning

We are committed to enabling students to learn throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes when students may be required to self -isolate or shield. To support the continuity of learning we are providing students and their parents with a personalised learning and therapy pack alongside access to virtual sessions via Microsoft Teams. All learning activities are tailored to individual students and the goals and targets that they are working towards whilst at National Star.

All virtual sessions will be delivered via Microsoft Teams. If a student is unable to access Microsoft Teams independently a second ‘Parent/Carer’ account will be created to enable secure access to virtual sessions.

COVID-19 Response Policy

We have created a Covid-19 Response Policy to mitigate the risks associated with Covid-19. This outlines our approach to infection control, (including the use of face-masks), social distancing and minimising public access to National Star sites. A summary of this policy can be seen below and the full policy can be made available on request.

Specific risk assessments have then been undertaken which have informed how our policy has been implemented in various departments across the organisation.

In particular, the way in which National Star services are currently delivered has been amended, with staff and students now operating from within clusters as far as possible to reduce the risk of transmission. In addition, where possible, non-service delivery staff have been supported to work from home.

The situation is monitored on a daily basis and changes made as and when appropriate.

Summary of the Covid-19 Response Policy

National Star recognises its duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures so that everybody’s health and safety is protected. In the context of COVID-19 this means:

  • Operating in specific ‘cluster’ groups to minimise contact with large numbers of people
  • Ensuring that all infection control procedures are effective by highlighting the importance of face coverings, regular handwashing and surface cleaning and by making sure that all of the necessary resources are readily available
  • Ensuring that all staff follow social distancing guidelines wherever possible and where these guidelines cannot be met, due to the practical nature of a particular activity, the organisation will ensure that appropriate PPE is made available
  • Supporting staff to be able to work from home when appropriate
  • Ensuring that all shared offices / meeting spaces have a specific risk assessment in place, staff work back-to-back or side-to-side (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible. Where necessary, screens or barriers are used to separate people from each other
  • Limiting public access to all National Star sites

In all risk assessments, National Star will pay particular regard to whether people are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Advice and Guidance

National Star’s position is constantly informed by published guidance from both Government and local authorities in both education and care, which is monitored on a daily basis.

Guidance from other relevant bodies, (e.g. HSE), is also monitored regularly.

Risk Assessment

National Star has adopted a ‘COVID-19 Working Safely (“COVID Secure”) Risk Assessment’ process. As part of this process the organisation will:

a) Follow the hierarchy of control:

Hierarchy of controls: elimination, substitution, engineering of controls, administrative controls, PPE

b) Consult with the staff Health and Safety group and elected staff representatives on:

  • Cleaning, sanitising and hygiene practices – to ensure that staff are working safely
  • Social distancing – as an important way to reduce of the risk of transmission between people at work
  • Organising the workplace – to reduce the likelihood that Covid-19 spreads and to allow everyone to work safely during the outbreak
  • Information and guidance – to ensure staff know how to work safely and understand the rules and guidelines
  • Wellbeing and support – to ensure that staff feel supported and listened to with their wellbeing looked after whilst continuing to work

c) Review the risk assessment guidelines regularly, especially if

  • New national guidelines are published
  • National or local lockdown restrictions change
  • The organisational approach does not work as expected
  • The required work changes
  • Someone in the workplace is diagnosed with COVID-19
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