We are delighted to announce that we will be back working from our office from Wednesday 1st July 2020 and we will be starting to welcome some of our families back to our office (and even outside in our lovely outdoor area) for therapy from Monday 6th July 2020. In line with COVID-19/Coronavirus workplace guidelines, we have conducted a rigorous risk assessment and have put plans in place to ensure that we can reopen in a way that is safe for the children, their families and our team. Please see below for a summary of the key actions we have taken as part of the risk assessment.

What you need to know

We have conducted a thorough risk assessment in line with the government risk assessment guidance, "Working safely during COVID-19 in offices and contact centres: COVID-19 secure guidance for employers, employees and the self-employed" (updated: 23 July 2020), accessible here.

Our risk assessment will continue to be reviewed and updated in line with changes to guidance from the government and The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

Please see below for the key changes currently in place. These will be continuously reviewed as new government guidelines are provided:

  • Key adjustments to service delivery:
    • Face-to-face sessions can resume in our office from Monday 6th July provided social distancing guidelines can be followed and where therapy will be effective in line with this
    • We will suspend face-to-face therapy if anyone present has experienced COVID-19 symptoms in the past 7 day or come into contact with someone who has in the past 14 days. Were appropriate, alternative arrangements will be made
    • Therapy in other settings, such as homes and schools, is currently not available. We will continue to review this position as further guidelines are made available
    • We can attend meetings and sessions in schools, provided they are pre-arranged and carefully managed (please see the section for schools below). We are not recommending work in classrooms until guidelines indicate otherwise, and we will aim to do any non-contact work off-site in order to reduce demands on space and time spent on the premises
    • We are continuing to ​offer teletherapy ​in addition to our other services or as an effective alternative to face-to-face therapy. This is great news for ​children who can't yet return to having ​face-to-face sessions
    • We will ensure that everyone is provided with the relevant information before they come to our office for therapy
    • We will ensure appointments are carefully planned and managed to reduce the possibility of people from different households coming into contact with each other as much as possible
    • We are implementing enhanced cleaning processes (including those required between each client session)
    • We have introduced a video Live stream service for therapy rooms, allowing therapists to safely observe parent-child interactions from another room where required
    • We will ensure a maximum of 4 members of The Talking House staff will be in the office at any time
  • Posters and floor signage to support:
    • Social distancing
    • Hand washing/hand sanitising
    • Recognising symptoms linked to Coronavirus/COVID-19
    • Self-isolation guidance
  • Guidance and training for all members of The Talking House Team

What we will do

All members of staff are responsible for following the guidelines in our full risk assessment, the key points of which are highlighted below:

  • Assessing who is able to follow social distancing guidelines, and so can resume face-to-face therapy
  • Following social distancing guidelines themselves, and ensuring visitors also follow these guidelines
  • Ensuring that they and any visitors use hand sanitiser on entering and exiting our office
  • Regularly washing/sanitising hands
  • Sanitising their desks before and after using them
  • Sanitising any equipment/toys that have been used. Disposable paper resources will also be used whenever possible
  • Ensuring that therapy rooms are well ventilated
  • Self-isolating if they show COVID-19 symptoms, or anyone in their household has come into contact with someone displaying symptoms, for a period of 14 days
  • Ensuring that no unplanned visitors enter the office
  • Taking necessary precautions if they have/develop any health risk factors linked with COVID-19
  • Using appropriate PPE during therapy visits

What you need to do

To ensure everyone's safety, we require everyone visiting our office to adhere to the following guidelines. We appreciate your support in doing so. These will be continuously reviewed as new government guidelines are provided:

  • You must not visit if you have experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 7 days or come into contact with anyone who has experienced symptoms within the last 14 days. If a member of our team has a concern that anyone is displaying symptoms linked to COVID-19, that person will be asked to leave
  • Children attending face-to-face sessions must be able to follow social distancing guidelines. If problems arise during the session then please be aware that the therapist may recommend suspending the session and either rescheduling or suggesting an alternative plan.
  • Each child visiting for therapy should be supported by only one adult from their household
  • Ensure you arrive on-time for appointments to ensure avoid overlap between different families
  • When you arrive, please wait outside until a member of staff signals that it is OK for you to enter our building. Staff will sign you in and out electronically
  • If anyone has a temperature, then you will not be allowed to enter and we will re-arrange the appointment
  • Accompanying adults must use hand sanitiser on entering and exiting the building and ensure that the child that they are supporting does this as well
  • At all times (except during an emergency), everyone in the building must socially distance. We have provided floor signs to support this
  • We ask that adult visitors wear a face mask or face covering whilst in the building. If this is not possible for you due to medical reasons, or other reasons in line with protected characteristics, please inform our Office Manager at sian@thetalkinghouse.co.uk beforehand. If needed, disposable masks can be purchased from us for £1.50
  • Please bring your own drinks as we will not be able to provide these at present
  • For younger children, we will provide a free plastic apron with sleeves to be worn during therapy sessions. You will be asked to bring this to each subsequent session, so we ask that you clean the apron between sessions. If you forget to bring the required apron, you will be provided with a new apron at a cost of £5

School contracts

It is essential that children with delayed language or other developmental delays have their needs
identified and supported. If they do not, they are at significant risk of negative outcomes, including on their mental health with potential extra costs to the public purse.

From September 2020, we will continue to provide our service to children in schools in a way which is practical and safe for all.

The current RCSLT guidelines recommend that face-to-face therapy sessions are only indicated for those where no other alternative mode of assessment and/or intervention is possible and for those children and young people who are able to follow social distancing guidance. For communication-based interventions, particularly for young children for whom social distancing will be difficult, the recommendations are still that these are delivered via telepractice - either teletherapy or video conferencing - or via a third party via therapy programmes.

To ensure everyone's safety, we are implementing the following measures:

  • We will need to be kept informed of individual schools risk assessment in order to ensure our staff are able to meet the safety guidelines in place prior to any visit
  • The Talking House does have access to basic PPE (masks, visors, aprons, gloves) and these will be utilised during face to face therapy sessions. However, if there is specific PPE required whilst on site, schools will be asked to provide the appropriate equipment for the therapist
  • The Talking House staff are to inform The Talking House Managing Director or Office Manager if they have experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 7 days or come into contact with anyone who has experienced symptoms within the last 14 days. If this does occur, the staff member will be asked to self-isolate. The Talking House will inform any school the therapist has visited in the previous 14 days. Any visits arranged during the self-isolation period will
    be rescheduled and the service will continue remotely
  • The Talking House will require schools to inform the Office Manager if any of their staff, parents or pupils who have had contact with the therapist have experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 7 days or come into contact with anyone who has experienced symptoms within the last 14 days
  • Pupils and staff must not meet with our staff for therapy sessions, meetings or training if they have experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 7 days or come into contact with anyone who has experienced symptoms within the last 14 days
  • Whilst on site, if a member of our team has a concern that anyone is displaying symptoms linked to COVID-19, then please be aware that the therapist may recommend suspending the session and either rescheduling or suggest an alternative plan
  • Where possible and appropriate, our therapists will continue to use teletherapy and remote support for assessments, therapy and to provide training to support pupils and staff
  • Our therapists will also aim to do any non-contact work off-site in order to reduce demands on space and time spent on the premises.
  • Where teletherapy or remote support is not appropriate, pupils must be able to follow social distancing guidelines to be able to attend face-to-face sessions. If problems arise during the session then please be aware that the therapist may recommend suspending the session and either rescheduling or suggest an alternative plan
  • Our therapists will work with schools to carefully plan and stagger face-to-face appointments to manage the arrival and departure of each pupil to reduce unnecessary contact and to ensure that there is enough time to clean/prepare for sessions
  • To be able to deliver therapy sessions in schools, our therapists will need:
    • a suitable room to work in that will facilitate social distancing
    • a member of staff to accompany pupils to and from the allocated room for therapy sessions.
    • a member of the staff remains with the child during the therapy session, whether this be face to face or via teletherapy.
    • school staff and pupils to use hand sanitiser to thoroughly wash/sanitise their hands on entering and exiting the allocated room
  • Class-based or group sessions are not recommended at this time
  • Meetings can go ahead in provided they are prearranged and accordance with school safety guidelines.
  • Where the technology is available (e.g. cameras in classroom, two way mirrors) therapists may observe children as part of assessment or to monitor progress.

We're here and ready to help!

If you would like any further information or assistance in relation to our Coronavirus/COVID-19 risk assessment or have any queries about resuming face-to-face therapy, please contact our Office Manager (Sian) via email at sian@thetalkinghouse.co.uk.

Get in touch to hear how we can help

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