We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive cookies, but if you want, you can change your cookies settings at any time.

SEND updates – Frequently Asked Questions: 18th June 2020

Swindon Borough Council is working with Swindon SEND Families Voice to develop a set of frequently asked questions for Special Educational Needs. These will be updated and added to as more information becomes available to us.

These frequently asked questions will be available through the Swindon Local Offer and Swindon SEND Families Voice and through the Swindon Borough Council communications.

Please note:

The Department for Education has launched a helpline for staff, parents and young people to answer education related questions re COVID19. 

0800 046 8687

A set of Government produced frequently asked questions are available here. These are particularly relevant for parents of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities

Preparing for the new normal

Are there any resources for families about the changes that children and young people may see and advice on how to deal with these changes when services re-open?

Autism Little Learners - Resources and ideas, including easy-read stories on how to greet teachers and friends when a child or young person returns back to school, how kids may see different people wearing masks, face masks and gloves, and what is social distancing

Royal College of Occupational Therapists- Preparing your child for returning to school

Government guidelines

Who is able to apply for a coronavirus test and how do I do this?

For up to date information on accessing coronavirus testing please visit the gov.uk website - How to apply for a coronavirus test

How are schools implementing the government social distancing guidelines?

It was announced on 23 March that the UK would enter a stricter period of social distancing, with people only allowed to leave home for very limited purposes. The UK-wide measures are intended to delay the spread of the virus – if the majority of the country are strictly self-isolating, this allows for some people to gather where that is necessary, whether it be in hospitals, food production facilities, or in schools or childcare settings.

This government have produced advice which seeks to support staff working in schools, other education and childcare settings to deliver this approach in the safest way possible, focusing on measures they can put in place to help limit risk of the virus spreading within education and childcare settings. Please see the link below for the full guidance document.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing social distancing in education and childcare settings 

What’s happening over the May half-term?

The government are asking schools, wherever possible, to maintain provision for children of workers critical to the COVID-19 response over the Easter holidays. This will be childcare provision rather than educational provision for critical workers’ children only. There is no requirement for this provision to be extended to children with Education Health and Care Plans or children in other vulnerable groups.

What happens if my child is in a school and he or she or another child gets ill?

The Government has issued guidance. This may change over time, but currently the key information is below:

  •  Staff, young people and children should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature to avoid spreading infection to others. Otherwise they should attend education or work as normal
  • If staff, young people or children become unwell on site with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature they should be sent home and advised to follow the staying at home guidance.
  • A child awaiting collection because they are unwell will be moved to a room with a closed door or at least at 2 meters from other people, bearing in mind that it would not be appropriate for younger children to be alone without adult supervision. They should be allowed to use a separate bathroom which will be thoroughly cleaned afterwards. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation.
  • If the young person needs clinical advice, they (or their teacher, parent or guardian) should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, a call to 999 can happen if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Visits to the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital are not advised.
  • In most cases, closure of the educational setting will not be needed but this will be a local decision based on various factors such as establishment size and risk of further spread. Public Health advice will help determine this. Settings will have access to standard advice to use in communications with parents and others.

What will be happening to my direct payments if I am unable to use them, will it just be carried over or will I have to return them?

The government advice is being continuously updated, and we will provide all direct payment families with regular updates as things evolve. The latest information is as follows:

If you are currently unable to use your direct payment you will not have to return the funding, but you may still need to pay your worker. Please see further information below:

  • If your worker is not self-isolating or displaying symptoms, but you choose not to use them during this time, you will need to pay them by submitting timesheets in the usual way and according to their normal working pattern. For example, if you only use your employee during school holidays then you should continue to pay only during the school holidays. If you use them for regular support then you should continue to pay according to this pattern.
  • If your worker chooses not to work and there’s no identified high risk then this would be classed as unpaid leave. If they have any accrued or unused holiday this can be taken.

Please contact Children’s Direct Payments on: childrensdp@swindon.gov.uk or 01793 464231 for more information on your specific circumstances.

 

When do I need to wear masks, gloves or other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

The advice around PPE varies depending on the setting you are in and who you are with and caring for. The latest government advice from Public Health England can be found on this page: COVID-19: infection prevention and control (IPC)

Education Health and Care Plan's

I have heard about risk assessments for children with EHCPs, what is happening?

Vulnerable children should be risk-assessed by their education setting in consultation with the local authority (LA) and parents, to decide whether they need to continue to be offered a nursery, school or college place in order to meet their needs, or whether they can safely have their needs met at home. This could include, if necessary, carers, therapists or clinicians visiting the home to provide any essential services. Many children and young people with EHC plans can safely remain at home.

Swindon LA are currently carrying out these risk assessments: schools and settings have been requested to complete risk assessment forms for all their children with EHC Plan's who are not attending school, in conjunction with the parents. Professionals from within Children’s Services are collating and reading these risk assessments forms and making decisions as to whether or not any further action is needed for individual children, relating to their health and safety and the provision specified within their EHC Plan's.

I’ve heard that routine health assessments for adults have all been cancelled during the Coronavirus. Does this mean my son’s statutory medical assessment for his Education, Health and Care needs assessments (EHCNAs) will also be cancelled, causing delay to this process?

Whilst it is correct that all over 18 routine medical assessments have been cancelled (both hospital and GP assessments), statutory medicals for EHCNAs are still being held over the phone.

My youngster is moving to 16+ placement in September – what’s happening about the amended EHC Plan's for him/her? How do we know what’s happening?

We have more than half of the draft amended EHC Plan's out for this age group– please respond by email or phone if you have not yet come back to us. We do not have email contacts for everyone though which is making it difficult to get other drafts issued as well as finalising the current amended drafts - we are ringing parents where we have a telephone number to ask for email addresses. If you have not heard from us, please ring one of the service mobile numbers: 07824 868353 or 07971 715864. We are in contact with our FE providers and those sending us assessment information to make sure we can progress things as fast as we can. We are aware that colleges are focusing on supporting current students as a priority at the moment, so thank you for your patience.

Will Local Authority duties for children with EHC Plan's continue the same as before?

On 19 March, the Government introduced new legislation into Parliament, in the form of  the Coronavirus Bill (‘the Bill’), in response to the outbreak

The overwhelming aim for SEND, through the Bill and the proposed changes to regulations that are to follow, is to balance the needs of this vulnerable group to receive the support they need with managing the demands on local authorities and health bodies to respond to this outbreak. As a result, the Bill includes temporary emergency powers to enable the Department for Education, where necessary, to modify the legal requirements on local authorities in fulfilling their duties in relation to EHC plans.

In practice, this will mean that where a local authority is, because of the outbreak, unable, for example, to put in place stated provision, they will need to use their reasonable endeavours to do this, but won’t be penalised for failing to meet the existing duty as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014. These emergency powers will only be exercised for the shortest period and where necessary, and will be regularly reviewed. We will also be seeking to amend regulations on the timescales for EHC plan processes where this is appropriate because of COVID-19. These decisions are not being taken lightly and seek to strike the right balance in these difficult times.

Do all children with EHC Plan's need to continue to attend school?

Schools, colleges and all childcare providers are being asked by the Government to continue to provide care for a limited number of children- children who are vulnerable, those with EHCPs, children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and who cannot be cared for safely at home. If it is possible for children to be at home, they should be. There is an expectation that all children and young people with EHCPs should be able to access an education or childcare setting as for those with the most complex needs, settings may be the best place to be to meet needs.

 

The guidance on supporting vulnerable children states that local authorities, nurseries, schools, special schools, colleges and other training providers should undertake a risk assessment to establish the individual needs of each child or young person with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. This assessment should incorporate the views of the child or young person and their parents. This will inform the decision about whether they should continue in school or college, or whether their needs can be met at home safely and well.

 

If needs are best met at schools or colleges, school or college will be supported to meet their needs, wherever possible. For those on SEN support, schools, colleges and local authorities have discretion to use the same risk judgement to decide whether home or school is the safest setting for these children.

 

Local authorities and schools do not need to complete their usual day-to-day attendance processes to follow up non-attendance. Schools should be ensuring they have a process in place to check on the welfare of any child who does not attend on any day. A record of attendance is being requested from schools every day. This will be submitted directly to the Department of Education through a new daily web form.

 

Swindon Borough Council is working closely with all education settings and health colleagues to ensure that the right staff are in the right settings.

If you are a parent who is a keyworker in your own right, or you have concerns regarding access to an education/childcare setting for a youngster with an EHCP, please email earlyeducation@swindon.gov.uk

What’s happening with annual reviews for EHC Plan's?

  • During the coming weeks, we know that a number of schools and colleges are closing or partially closing and with some limitations to staffing, at the moment the focus is on care for the children and young people, and contact with all parents for the risk assessment process. Annual reviews that are due during this time will obviously be affected. Settings and the SEND service will work together to achieve as many annual reviews on time as is possible.
  • Advice prior to meetings from practitioners may be possible but we are aware that health and care staff will be redirected to support other services in social care and NHS in these times and that all staff groups may be affected by self-isolation or illness, or childcare responsibilities which may affect any updates or assessments of children/young people
  • If your school, early years setting or college has arranged meetings and these can go ahead in any way please do take part, these are likely to be virtual meetings
  • We advise that virtual meetings should be offered before cancelling or postponing annual review meetings
  • If settings cannot arrange for a way of keeping these meetings in the diary, there should be a discussion between school and parents, with the setting/school emailing the SEND service at SENAT@swindon.gov.uk to let the service know the new arrangements and the reason for the change in plan
  • If parents are unhappy with an annual review being postponed and the school/setting have exhausted all options, then the SEND team can look into how we could arrange this. Settings will still need to attend any virtual annual review organised by the SENAT team.
  • The annual review report should be submitted as normal to the SEND service- all correspondence will need to be electronic unless parents can collect from the setting or are happy for their copies to go in the post. The SEND service can only receive reports via the SENAT@swindon.gov.uk inbox using the Egress system.
  • As is usual, the response will be determined by the information and evidence provided. If there is no evidence to suggest any changes then it is likely that the response will be to maintain the plan.

Is panel still meeting to make decisions?

Yes. Weekly panels continue. These are now virtual with panel members contributing via digital means. Decisions will continue to be shared as before, but via electronic means. The SEND service are currently all working remotely and so cannot use the postal service. There is some limited capacity due to reduced staff availability and the staffing in a number of our partner services and settings is also reduced which is having some impact inevitably.

What about if we are part way through the Education, Health and Care assessment for special educational needs, for example we are in the middle of the assessment process and waiting for someone like an Educational Psychologist to come out and see my child.

We are working with settings and services on this question. We are asking people completing assessments to look at information they already have and if they can talk to parents and others over the phone to collect further information this way. If your child is under assessment your EHCP coordinator is planning to update you weekly. We are expecting some delays as different contributors may not be available. If we progress based on less information than in usual times, we will only do so with parent/carer or young person’s permission. If we do not have your email contact details, please ring them or email them to the SEND Service so that we can make contact easily.

If children with an EHC Plan continue to attend school will transport still be running?

School transport routes are continuing to operate for children and young people already in receipt of home to school transport, where education attendance is continuing. We are requesting that all settings contact transport with a list of students they expect to be in from 23rd March for the following day. We will be contacting any setting not heard from by midday for this information. We realise it may change day to day. It will help schools to have advice from parents regarding their child’s/young person’s transport requirements for the next day if this is likely to change.

Personal Transport Budgets: The SEN travel advisor is contacting all parents (where email address available) who receive a PTB to confirm if they intend to take their child to school in April. All parents who have confirmed that they will be taking their child will be paid:  this will be reviewed on a month by month basis. Please let the SEND service know if this changes in the meantime by emailing SENAT@swindon.gov.uk. If we do not have your email address, please contact us with your contact details.

What will happen to new requests for education, health and care statutory assessment where this is still with the school and not yet with the SEND team?

We are asking parents, professionals and settings to carefully consider about making requests for statutory assessment. Other than in the most exceptional cases, we suggest that it is sensible to delay these until the end of the summer term where possible. As is the case in a normal year, it is unlikely that assessment requests made from now on will be completed within 20 weeks due to school summer closure and this year there are additional considerations, particularly if you do not have a comprehensive set of reports to support the initial request. Wherever possible we would appreciate as much supporting advice to come in with the request when it is submitted so that we can progress decisions and work as quickly as possible.

SEND Services

How do I contact the SEND service now, how will it work if the team have to be at home?

In accordance with current Government requirements, the SEND Service is now working remotely with some limited capacity. Our inbox SENAT@swindon.gov.uk is open and working as usual and we continue to work towards responses within 48-72 hours.

Due to the speed of the change, we have not been able to put the service main mobile telephone numbers on to the service voicemail, so please do share the following telephone mobile numbers across your networks. These numbers are the best way to contact us for urgent enquiries 07824 868353 or 07971 715864. Please leave a message of we do not immediately answer and we will get back to you.

Please ensure all documents are sent electronically, if this will pose a problem, please let us know.

Are SEND tribunals continuing to operate?

  • Tribunals will continue to operate, but in a different format.
  • Face-to –face hearings will not be held in the foreseeable future [subject to review].
  • All cases will be on ‘papers only’ or remotely by telephone and, where possible, video conferencing.
  • Judges will be making decisions on a case by case basis for the next 6 months with respect to who will be on the panel. Where the judge is of the view that a case needs to be heard and cannot by postponed, then the case made be heard by the judge alone or with a panel. Panel members will be requested according to the judge’s evaluation of each case.

Will mediations still go ahead?

  • In Swindon all formal mediations are managed by Global Mediations, who have now adopted online video conferencing / telephone mediations or the option of postponement.
  • No ‘face to face’ mediations will currently take place.
  • Currently, Global intend to proceed with all booked mediations [subject to the views of participants]. Each mediation session is being reviewed on a ‘case by case’ basis.
  • If you are expecting to take part in a mediation, contact will be made in due course.

Here is a link to a video from Global’s Managing Director, Adam Gersch, outlining the current position.

If the SEND Service staff are working from home, how will data protection be adhered to with the paperwork?

Existing required practice for working at home continues to apply. Staff have strict guidelines for working from home. No files or paperwork are permitted to be removed from Council premises with all work completed on Council laptops and correspondence via secure channels. The SEND Service moved to digital file management last year. Where contact is via mobile phone, calls will require use of SBC mobile phones and follow our strict protocol for non-Council locations. Please be assured that this remains a key priority for us.

I need some advice from an advisory teacher – what do I do?

Services are working remotely and available to be contacted – please see below.

Service Contact Details
Vision Support and Assistive Technology Service including Alterative and Augmentative Communications Jo Clarke jclarke@swindon.gov.uk
01793 753040 07966949830
Advisory Teacher of the Deaf Service Jane Kilminster jkilminster@swindon.gov.uk 07929 188820
HSTAdmin@swindon.gov.uk
Specific Learning Difficulties Dyslexia Service

01793889598 Mon/Tues/Wed 07538 821061 Wed/Thursday

Email contact preferred dyslexia@millbrook.swindon.sch.uk
Nominated telephone number being explored from 30/3/20 for messages.

Physical Disabilities Service Mobile number: 07971300441. Email address: ewaters@swindon.gov.uk
Working hours are 8am till 3pm Monday to Friday, term time only. Available for Skype conversations on email address above.
Autism Service

Jenny Muirhead JMuirhead@swindon.gov.uk 07772 441559

Penny Seymour (EY) PSeymour@swindon.gov.uk  07772 439912

Lynn Woods LWoods@swindon.gov.uk 07805 608374

Health and well-being

What do I do if me or my child needs medical assistance during coronavirus?

Parents, carers and others looking after children across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are being advised not to let worries about coronavirus delay them from seeking medical help. For more information please click here.

Who is able to apply for a coronavirus test and how do I do this?

For up to date information on accessing coronavirus testing please visit the gov.uk website - How to apply for a coronavirus test

How do I stay well when social distancing?

It doesn’t matter if you are a parent with children or on your own, we know that during this period it’s really important that you look after your mental and emotional wellbeing as well as your physical health. Children especially will now be spending their days at home away from their usual routine, friends and activities. As parents/carers, you will inevitably be concerned about the effect this may have on your child’s development, physical and mental health, as well as your family’s well being. This guide offers practical suggestions on how to help you and your children manage the next few weeks. 

Where can I get help to get Personal Protective Equipment for people that are caring for my medically vulnerable child?

Well Child have set up a direct response service to try and help you to get the things you need, include PPE and scrubs style uniforms. Professionals or families are able to refer to the service using their online form.
WellChild COVID-19 Response Team will aim to reply to you as soon as possible during the working week of Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm.

If it has been identified that your child has care needs that fit into what is known as aerosol generating procedures (AGP), this includes things such as suctioning and/or the need to use a ventilator, you may need to consider additional PPE such as FFP3 masks for carers (that are not living in the same household as the child). The latest government advice from Public Health England can be found on this page: COVID-19: infection prevention and control (IPC). In some community setting it is now recommended that when undertaking AGP procedures FFP3 masks, gowns and face shields should be worn. Staff using FFP3 masks needs to have these specially fitted so it will be necessary for staff to attend a ‘fit test’ session. Staff working for/on behalf of the NHS or local authority will have access to this PPE if it is required. If there are additional carers that help to look after your child that you think may require this PPE please contact the CCG through: swiccg.childrenscontinuingcareswindon@nhs.net

Where can I or staff/carers that support my child access training relating to coronavirus?

This Coronavirus training programme provided by NHS Health Education England is freely available to colleagues working in the NHS, independent sector and social care. You do not need to register and log-in to access the training but you will need to register if you want to keep a record of your learning. It is not restricted and you can submit any e-mail address.

Where can I access information and support regarding emergency household food boxes/supplies when in isolation or shielding?

SBC continue to offer the food boxes and bags at a cost with free delivery but we do not do bespoke shopping unless it is a real emergency and all other avenues have been exhausted. Please find the details at and choose option 3: Emergency household supplies. Or alternatively you can call 01793 445500 where you can speak to someone about what is available and can discuss financial concerns if you have them and they will support accordingly through our emergency assistance fund.

They can also  talk through the other shopping options available from the community and voluntary sector and will link as appropriate. Voluntary Action Swindon are doing a bespoke shopping service and Scrapstore,  Good Collective, Gateway Church and others all have differing offers. We are all connected so we can signpost and make sure individuals get the right support.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - What you need to know

 

In addition Well Child have set up a direct response service to try and help you to get the things you need, including food deliveries and prescription collection. Professionals or families are able to refer to the service using their online form.
WellChild COVID-19 Response Team will aim to reply to you as soon as possible during the working week of Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm.

What support are school nurses providing?

School nurses will continue to offer support to children, young people and parents either through phone or video calling.  We are in the process of setting up ‘virtual clinics’ within school settings – with a plan to extend this service to those children who are not attending school due to the restrictions of social isolation.

 

The school nursing service can be contacted by young people, parents and carers for advice and support.

 

For schools in the South email: sns@swindon.gov.uk   tele: 01793 465030

For schools in the North email: snn@swindon.gov.uk  tele: 01793 465050

Please ensure you include your contact details, the name of your child / young person and the school they attend.  We will contact you initially by phone, please be aware if you wish us to video call you will need to ensure that you have access to SKYPE retail on your mobile device.

What is happening with community paediatricians?

Health services have had to review the work they are currently doing to ensure that they are able to meet the increasing demand needed to respond to the current covid-19 crisis. At this time review appointments for children on medication will continue remotely either via telephone or video link.

New assessments that were booked prior to the Covid19 lockdown are continuing but no new cases are being booked to ensure that the community paediatricians have capacity to cover statutory work at this time.

 

Paediatricians are still completing statutory medicals remotely and so this will not affect the EHCP process. Some medical reports will be completed from the medical motes if children have been seen within the last 6 months. Others will be completed remotely but not  all children will need to see a community paediatrician because they have no significant health needs or are being seen by another service. All cases are reviewed by the Designated Medical Officer who will liaise with the SEN officers to determine the best course of action in individual cases.

What is happening with referrals to the neurodevelopmental conditions (NDC) pathway for children with suspected autism/ADHD or other conditions?

New referrals to the NDC pathway were paused during covid-19. As we begin to emerge from the first covid-19 peak, arrangements have been made to begin accepting referrals back into the NDC Pathway.

 

Referrals will be reviewed and screened by clinicians in the referral support service. As was the case prior to covid-19 for this new pathway referrals can only be accepted for diagnosis and paediatricians are not able to provide behavioural support. If the referral is declined you will receive a letter explaining the reasons why and signposting you to services that can offer support.

 

Assessments with the paediatricians need to take place face to face. At this time we are still not able to undertake face to face assessments for this service, so if the referral is accepted you will be added to the waiting list. You will receive a letter confirming that you are on the waiting list and an information leaflet about the process and local support available to you. Please be advised that waiting times will be longer than usual due to the service being paused during covid-19.

 

For more details about what support the community paediatricians can usually offer please visit their page on the local offer.

If my child is ill or injured during the current situation, what should I do?

When your child is ill or injured, it is very difficult to decide what to do: call your child’s GP/NHS 111/999 or take them to the accident and emergency department at the hospital? During the current situation and whilst the government is asking everyone to stay at home, it can be confusing to know what to do. The NHS have produced some guidance to help with these decisions as illustrated in the following flow chart.

A guide for parents - what to do if your child is injured or unwell

My child is missing out on crucial appointments which support their development (from paediatric therapies), what can I do at home to support them?

The current situation with covid-19 changes on a daily basis and the health service is responding to these needs. Services are supporting patients to be discharged from hospital where they can and providing support in the community/at home. Health services are working with social care and community forums to provide support for patients.

Individuals will be contacted about upcoming appointments to discuss what happens with these. Where possible support will be provided by the phone or other digital means. However, some routine/non-urgent appointments may need to be postponed for the time being.

For some children it may be that your healthcare professional is able to give you an individual timetable of treatment/exercise that you can follow independently at home. Where this isn’t possible there are some resources available for Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy on the local offer that you can do with your child to support their development. There are also a number of online resources to help you create your own activities at home such as these sensory strategies: Sensory motor paths, Sensory Play Video 1; Sensory Play Video 2fun activities at home for all abilities from Gympanzees.

Many of the activities and suggestions included in response to the question “What can I do to support my child who struggles with anxiety, challenging behaviour or mental health needs” under the Mental Health heading and “the short guide for parents and families to help adjust to life in isolation” will also support your child with their continued development.“

What’s happening with the Hearing Support Team?

Please see the HST newsletter below for up-to-date information from the service.

Hearing Support Team Newsletter April 2020

What’s happening with health and community services?

Services will discharge patients from hospital where they can, and provide support in the community/at home.  Health services are working with social care and community forums to work together to provide support for patients. Individuals will be contacted about upcoming appointments to discuss what will happen with these. Where possible support will be via phone or other digital means. However, some routine/non-urgent appointments may need to be postponed for the time being. High risk patients will be advised to self-isolate specifically and prioritised for support and further advice will be published shortly.  

My child has a complex medical condition. How can I keep him safe from the Coronavirus at home?

The government have produced guidance for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition, and for their family, friends and carers. It is intended for use in situations where the extremely vulnerable person is living in their own home, with or without additional support. This includes the extremely clinically vulnerable people living in long-term care facilities, either for the elderly or persons with special needs.

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others. The government are strongly advising people with serious underlying health conditions (listed below), which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19), to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.

Please read the full government guidance using the link below for further information:

Definitions of who is seen as ‘extremely vulnerable’ and what they should do over the next 12 weeks (‘shielding’). 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The advice around PPE varies depending on the setting you are in and who you are with and caring for. The latest government advice from Public Health England can be found on this page: COVID-19: infection prevention and control (IPC)

What is happening with the NHS Volunteer Programme?

You can find information on the NHS volunteer programme, including how to sign up and what it can help with here

An incredible 750,000 volunteers have signed up for NHS Volunteer Responders since it was launched on 24 March. Guidance for primary care professionals has been published to explain how the programme works and how to refer patients for support. We are encouraging NHS organisations to start using the service as fully as possible to support patients at the highest clinical risk from coronavirus.

Requests for support for individuals or organisations can be made by any health professional and from local authorities via the NHS Volunteer Responders referrers’ portal. This guidance will be extended and updated regularly on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website.

If you feel you need additional support in any of the following areas then please speak to a health or social care professional that is supporting your family or contact the Swindon Live Well Hub and they will be able to assist you to access support.

  • Check in and Chat Support: Provides short-term telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation.
  • Community Support: Provides collection of shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, and delivering these supplies to their home
  • Patient Transport Support: Provides transport to take patients home who are medically fit for discharge
  • NHS Transport Support: Provides transport for equipment, supplies and/or medication between NHS services and sites. Also involves assisting pharmacies with medication delivery.

I haven’t received a letter from the government to say I am vulnerable but I am still concerned about my health and choosing to shield for 12 weeks can I access any additional support?

You do not need to have received a letter to register as a clinically vulnerable person through the government website. If you have any of the following you are considered vulnerable and can still register for support here

You’re extremely vulnerable if you:

  • have had a solid organ transplant
  • have any cancer and are getting chemotherapy
  • have lung cancer and are getting radical radiotherapy
  • have cancer of the blood or bone marrow, at any stage of treatment - for example, leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma
  • have any cancer for which you’re getting immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments
  • have any cancer for which you’re getting a targeted treatment which can affect the immune system - for example, protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • have a severe respiratory condition - including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
  • have a rare disease or inborn error of metabolism that significantly increases your risk of infection - for example SCID or homozygous sickle cell
  • are getting an immunosuppression therapy that’s sufficient to significantly increase your risk of infection
  • are pregnant, and have a significant congenital or acquired heart disease

Where can young people get advice on health and well-being?

 

The Mix provide advice and support on the embarrassing problems, weird questions, and please-don’t-make-me-say-it-out-loud thoughts that people under 25 have in order to give them the best support through their online resources and phone services.

They provide  a free and confidential multi-channel service. That means that you choose how you access their support, without the worry of anyone else finding out. Whether it be through their articles and video content online or their phone, email, peer to peer and counselling services – they put the control in your hands.

What can I do if my child eats a limited/restricted diet and I can’t get the food they would usually eat?

The British Association of Dieticians has provided the following advice relating to frequently asked questions about food/diet and covid-19, including questions relating to blended diets, breastfeeding and baby formula.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus - Advice for the General Public

If your child requires items that you are not able to get hold of and you are known to the dietetics team they are happy to discuss your current situation over the phone to help suggest suitable alternatives. They are able to provide a letter that families can take with them to the supermarket to help shopping for children on a limited diet where this will be helpful. Tel: 01793 605145 

For children with dysphasia that need food at certain textures The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative have resources on their website that provide advice around texture modification and food examples for each of the different levels.

The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative

KIDS Scotland have put together some helpful information on sensory behaviours relating to food and mealtimes for children that may be described as ‘fussy eaters’. The guidance includes step by step guides to introducing and desensitising children to new foods for children that may find this difficult.

Fussy eaters information sheet

Change 4 Life provide guidance on health food (and exercise choices) including food swap ideas to promote healthier eating.

Change 4 Life website

In addition if your child falls into a vulnerable group then you may be able to access one of the dedicated slots at your local supermarket to increase your chances of getting the food that your child needs. 

Asda: 8am-9am Monday-Saturday for elderly and vulnerable individuals 

Sainsbury’s 8am-9am Monday, Wednesday and Friday for elderly and vulnerable individuals 

Tesco: 9am-10am Monday, Wednesday and Friday for elderly and vulnerable individuals 

Waitrose: 7am-8am for elderly and vulnerable individuals 

Co-Op: 8am-9am Monday – Saturday; 10am-11am Sunday’s elderly and vulnerable individuals 

Iceland: 8am-9am for elderly and vulnerable individuals 

Marks & Spencer: Monday, Thursday first hour of trading for elderly and vulnerable individuals 

How much physical exercise should my child be getting each day?

The following NHS online document gives very helpful advice and guidance on how much and what type of physical exercise children should be getting every week.

Physical activity guidelines for children and young people

Mental Health

Where can I find useful information and support about self-harm?

The National Self-Harm Network have an informative website and forum that can be found here: National Self Harm Network Forum website. They support individuals who self-harm to help reduce emotional distress and improve their quality of life. They also provide information for family and carers of individuals who self-harm.

Distractions that can help leaflet

What can I do to support my child who struggles with anxiety, challenging behaviour or other mental health needs?

We understand that it can be difficult supporting children with additional mental health needs or challenging behaviour in isolation. We have collated resources on what you can do to look after your child’s and your own mental health here.

I’m a young person who is worried about coronavirus. What advice can you give me?

Our world is changing rapidly at the moment. Given some of the news coverage, it would be hard not to worry about what it all means for yourself, and for those you love.


Worry and anxiety are common problems at the best of times, and when it takes over it can become all-encompassing. Psychology Tools have put together a free guide to help you to manage your worry and anxiety in these uncertain times and Anna Freud are a useful source of help and guidance for looking after your mental health needs during the coronavirus outbreak.


Once you have read the information, feel free to try the exercises if you think they might be helpful to you. It's natural to struggle when times are uncertain, so remember to offer care and compassion to yourself, and to those around you. Please see the documents below for further information.

Covid-19 advice for young people

Psychology Tools: Living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty - Covid-19 advice for young people

Are the Mental Health Support Teams for Schools still running?

Barnardo’s Mental Health Support Teams remains open for referrals from Swindon schools and are continuing their service virtually and via the phone. Contact can be made by schools using the usual email and phone numbers for triage, assessment and treatment.

Bernardo's We're Open Flyer

Swindon Trailblazer MHST Project Me Consultation Poster

What’s happening with TaMHS?

Targetted Mental Health Service (TaMHS) remains open. They have switched their whole service to over the phone and are also looking, with IT, at online platforms to offer a video face to face option. So all schools that trade with TaMHS are still receiving a service and staff are contacting all the pupils they are working with.

They are still running the Single Point of Access emails and over the phone as well as completing assessments and interventions with the children/young people over the phone.

What will happen with my child’s CAMHS appointments?

Oxford Health are providing the most up to date information relating to how Covid-19 is affecting the appointments and service they provide on their website. Please visit Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service page  for more information.

Also take a look at guidance on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

Who can I call to get support for me or my child’s mental health?

If you are already receiving support from TAMHS or CAMHS they are still operating virtual services and you can see the information about how to access support in the questions “What’s happening with TaMHS?” and “What will happen with my child’s CAMHS appointments?”


There are a number of other services both locally and nationally that you can call for further support with your mental health.

You can find details of national helplines here [https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/]

And we have included details of local support below:

BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire third sector collaborative

Emotional and mental wellbeing support lines

Provider/Service:

Operational Hours:

Contact details:

Locality Coverage:

Bath Mind MH Pod

9am-6pm

7 days a week

0300 247 0050

BaNES

Bath Mind Breathing Space

5:50pm-11:30pm

7 days a week

01225 983130

BSW

Alabare Riverside Sanctuary

3pm-11pm

7 days a week

riversidesanctuary@alabare.co.uk

01722 466 680

BSW

Swindon Mind – Day Services

9am-5pm

7 days a week

admin@sgmind.org.uk  

01793 432031

Swindon

Swindon Mind – The Junction

4pm-10pm

7 days a week

junction@sgmind.org.uk

01793 286506

Swindon – but accepting wider contacts during Covid-19

Education

What are education and childcare settings doing to ensure my child is kept safe?

New guidance has been issued to help with this. Please see the list below for suggested actions to be taken by settings so that social distance is kept and contacts minimised so that infection is not spread. 

  1. No visitors who are exhibiting symptoms
  2. Review how children are travelling to and from school to reduce social contacts
  3. Keep class sizes as small as possible
  4. Stagger break times and movements around site
  5. Self-isolate staff in residential settings (on site as residential settings are classed as households in this respect)
  6. Help children wash hands according to guidance and check that staff are doing this correctly
  7. Increase cleaning of surfaces everywhere including classrooms/handles/toilets
  8. Inform and engage parents in measures being taken, including talking with their children about social distancing and handwashing (work is happening to look at books/online resources/social stories to help with this- check in to the Swindon SEND Families Voice facebook page for useful links and ideas)
  9. Work with local authority to keep children and young people healthy.

Will the insurance in the education settings cover anything that might happen with the new and changing arrangements for Covid-19? Does this include situations where my child is attending a different school or setting than before?

Existing insurance remains valid for any educational setting which remains open to care for vulnerable children or those of Key Workers as defined in DFE guidance. This is because the setting is providing childcare within guidelines set by the government.

The insurance will cover children and young people who are filling vacancies created by children not attending. This is the case as long as those places have been filled with other vulnerable children or key workers.

Settings are required to collect the health information on those children and to complete registration forms as would normally happen

Settings are expected to keep the Local Authority informed about all children being cared for by each setting

I have a child who attends a special school out of the Borough, what is going to happen?

We are in contact with all our Out of Borough specialist schools and collating the information. The recent Government advice is for independent and non-maintained schools and colleges to stay open. There is new guidance available about residential educational settings to make sure the latest advice is available so that leaders in these settings are well-placed to make judgements about what is needed.

The guidance on supporting vulnerable children states that local authorities, nurseries, schools, special schools, colleges and other training providers should undertake a risk assessment to establish the individual needs of each child or young person with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. This assessment should incorporate the views of the child or young person and their parents. This will inform the decision about whether they should continue in school or college, or whether their needs can be met at home safely.

Where can I get ideas and resources for helping my children with their school work?

There are lots of resources and activity ideas available on the Local Offer website (link provided below).

Useful home schooling resources for parents, teachers and SENCos

16+

My youngster is moving to 16+ placement in September – what’s happening about the amended EHC Plan's for him/her? How do we know what’s happening?

We have more than half of the draft amended EHC Plan's out for this age group– please respond by email or phone if you have not yet come back to us. We do not have email contacts for everyone though which is making it difficult to get other drafts issued as well as finalising the current amended drafts - we are ringing parents where we have a telephone number to ask for email addresses. If you have not heard from us, please ring one of the service mobile numbers: 07824 868353 or 07971 715864. We are in contact with our FE providers and those sending us assessment information to make sure we can progress things as fast as we can. We are aware that colleges are focusing on supporting current students as a priority at the moment, so thank you for your patience.

Transport

If children with an EHC Plan continue to attend school will transport still be running?

School transport routes are continuing to operate for children and young people already in receipt of home to school transport, where education attendance is continuing. We are requesting that all settings contact transport with a list of students they expect to be in from 23rd March for the following day. We will be contacting any setting not heard from by midday for this information. We realise it may change day to day. It will help schools to have advice from parents regarding their child’s/young person’s transport requirements for the next day if this is likely to change.

Personal Transport Budgets: The SEN travel advisor is contacting all parents (where email address available) who receive a PTB to confirm if they intend to take their child to school in April. All parents who have confirmed that they will be taking their child will be paid:  this will be reviewed on a month by month basis. Please let the SEND service know if this changes in the meantime by emailing SENAT@swindon.gov.uk. If we do not have your email address, please contact us with your contact details.

Social Care

Can there be any flexibility with Direct Payments during the Coronavirus outbreak?

If you receive a direct payment for your child and are currently unable to use your worker, it may be possible to use some of your direct payment funding to buy equipment or technology to support your child. For example, arts and craft supplies, sensory toys and equipment or subscriptions. Please first contact the Children’s Direct Payment team to discuss and agree any changes to how you use your funding: childrensdp@swindon.gov.uk or 01793 464231. Each case will be looked at individually and will take into account your agreement with your existing worker (if you are not using your worker there are some circumstances where you still need to pay them). Any agreed purchases would come out of your existing direct payment funding, this would not be additional funding. This will reduce the hours of support you have left over. You would need to keep track of how you have used the money and retain all receipts or invoices so they can be checked when your direct payment is next reviewed.

As my child is not actually attending school at the moment, can I request a Personal Budget?

At the moment there is no change to the process for requesting a personal budget which can happen at the point of issuing a new EHCP or at an annual review. A personal budget can include a direct payment element which is managed by the parent or young person, if the head teacher or principal is in agreement. This relates to the additional funding that can come with an EHCP, and to those parts of that funding which are not managed through other means such a commissioned service. Any request for a personal budget is considered on a case by case basis, and is subject to discussion with the child or young person’s educational setting who need to agree. Agreement to release any funding would need to take into account existing commitments e.g. where the setting have already committed the funding to staffing or provision already in place.

Page updated 18/06/2020
Back to top