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Key Workers: The official list of those who can still send their children to school

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Whilst today will be the last day for most children at school there are those whose parents are ‘key workers’ that the government has identified need support while they work. For these children schools are to remain open. But who is a ‘key worker’?

The Department for Education has now released the list of ‘key workers’ and has more guidance on this.

Schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

Vulnerable children include 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.

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors listed below. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

The government has list out several key principles:

  1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  2. If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
  3. Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  4. Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
  5. Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.

If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:

Health and social care

This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare

This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.

Key public services

This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

Local and national government

This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.

Food and other necessary goods

This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

Public safety and national security

This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Transport

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

Utilities, communication and financial services

This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

If a worker thinks they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.

If your school is closed then please contact your local authority, who will seek to redirect you to a local school in your area that your child, or children, can attend.

Coronavirus

Pandemic claims the lives of more than 5,200 people with dementia in the South East

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Orla Phipps and Grandma Agnes

A staggering 5,200 people with dementia are estimated to have died from coronavirus in the South East of England since the pandemic hit the UK in full force in March 2020.1

They are among more than 34,000 with the condition to have died in England and Wales from Covid-19, making people with dementia the worst hit by coronavirus.

In addition, new calculations from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that deaths of care home residents, where at least 70% of people have dementia, are 30% higher than previously thought.

There have been almost 12,000 (11,624) deaths since January 2021, which includes care home residents who have died in hospitals or elsewhere.

A coalition of dementia organisations including Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, John’s Campaign and TIDE (together in dementia everyday), have come together to say never again will those affected face such hardship and loss.

Alzheimer’s Society’s investigation has shown the pandemic’s toll goes even further than deaths from the virus.

In a survey of 1,001 people who care for a family member, partner or someone close to them with dementia3, an overwhelming 92%4 said the pandemic had accelerated their loved one’s dementia symptoms; 28% of family carers said they’d seen an ‘unmanageable decline’ in their health5, while Alzheimer’s Society’s support services have been used over 3.6 million times since the pandemic began.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line has been flooded with calls from relatives revealing how quickly their loved ones are going downhill, losing their abilities to talk or feed themselves.

Nearly a third (32%) of those who lost a loved one during the pandemic thought that isolation/lack of social contact was a significant factor in that loss.6

People with dementia in care homes have been cut off from their loved ones for almost a year, contributing to a massive deterioration in their health.

A third (31%) reported a more rapid increase in loved ones’ difficulty speaking and holding a conversation, and quarter (25%) in eating by themselves.7

Only 13% of people surveyed have been able to go inside their loved one’s care home since the pandemic began. Almost a quarter (24%) haven’t been able to see their loved one at all for over six months.8

Alzheimer’s Society is calling for meaningful – close contact, indoor – visits to be the default position without delay from 8 March.

Orla Phipps who gave up her studies to live with her Grandmother Agnes said,

Coronavirus has affected my life and the life of my family immensely. The worry about what could happen to my grandma, if we risked having multiple carers looking after her, is the reason I become her full-time carer and left college.

Just before coronavirus hit my grandma Agnes was in a care home recovering from a hip replacement. We were very lucky that she was able to come home just before the nursing homes closed their doors. If she had been denied visits from our family, her dementia would have progressed much faster and her cognitive function would not be as good as it is today.

I have received so many comments from people who follow our TikTok account, who have lost loved ones too, many of whom had dementia and were in care homes. It breaks my heart to think of those who have died without their loved ones by their side.

We must do better by those with dementia and their families, now more than ever. People with dementia need human connection and visiting restrictions have taken this from them. Moving forward we must make up for lost time and show them the care and dignity that they so greatly deserve.”

There are an estimated 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, including more than 134,570 in the South East

Dementia organisations, including this coalition, joined forces as One Dementia Voice in July 2020 to call for designated family carers to be given key worker status to enable care home visits to loved ones.

Family carers are integral to the care system, and to the people for whom they care – it’s they who know how to get their loved ones to eat, drink, take medicine – and are often the first to know when something is wrong.

While the Government recently announced that indoor visits will restart for one family member from 8 March, the coalition emphasises that this must be the default position and that blanket bans on visitors (where there is no coronavirus outbreak) are unacceptable.

Jacqui Justice-Chrisp, South East Area Manager at Alzheimer’s Society said:

“Coronavirus has shattered the lives of so many people with dementia, worst hit by the pandemic – lives taken by the virus itself, and many more prematurely taken due to increased dementia symptoms and, in part, loneliness. Each one leaves behind a grieving family.

Family carers, too, have been buckling under the strain. We urge the Government to support people affected by dementia whose lives have been upended, putting recovery plans in place, but also making the legacy of Covid-19 a social care system that cares for the most vulnerable when they need it.”

Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, John’s Campaign and TIDE (together in dementia everyday) are calling for:

  • A Recovery Plan with the needs of people affected by dementia at their heart.
  • Meaningful – close contact, indoor – visits to be the default position without delay from 8 March.
  • An end to blanket bans on care home visits where there is no active outbreak.
  • A recognition that family carers are integral to the care system.
  • Family carers to register their carer status with GP surgeries to ensure they get vaccination priority, and call on NHS England to ensure all surgeries enable this
  • Universal social care that we can all be proud of, free at point of use, like the NHS, like education – and providing quality care for every person with dementia who needs it.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect Support line – 0333 1503456 – [OK2] is available seven days a week, providing information and practical support for people affected by dementia.

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