News from East Lothian Council Education Team

ELC will be providing free school meals from Monday and we are actively planning how we provide childcare for key workers. Please bear with us as we put these plans in place. Thank you to everyone working round the clock to support us.

Email from Lorraine Wakefield, Communications Manager at the Scottish Social Services Council:

18 March 2020
We recognise that the social service sector is on the frontline of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and we want to support you to continue to deliver your vital work during this challenging time. As you need to change your services to meet demand, we’ve agreed regulatory changes with Scottish Government to enable an effective response by services. These are effective from today (18 March 2020).

Current flexibility regarding registration and redeployment between services

People working in social service roles in nurseries, care homes, care at home and housing support services, residential childcare services and school care accommodation service can currently work for six months without being registered.

We understand that for people working in these services applying for registration will not be a priority. We will update this information if there is any change to this time period.

Workers registered to work in one kind of service can be immediately redeployed to work in another kind of service without any need to change their registration status with the SSSC. They would currently have six months in which to register to work in a different service.

  • For example, a care home worker could be immediately deployed to work in a care at home service, as long as the provider is satisfied they have the appropriate skills and experience for the work.
  • Similarly, a healthcare worker can be redeployed immediately into a registered care service and would currently have six months before there was a requirement to register with the SSSC.

We are working with COSLA and care providers to develop a learning and development pack to support those moving and working across care services.

Changes in regulatory practice we are implementing immediately

Prioritising registration of social workers
Social workers have to be registered with us before they can practise. We have prioritised processing social work applications.

Keeping as many people on the Register as possible

People on our Register have to pay an annual fee and have to submit a renewal application at the end of their registration period. If they don’t, we normally remove them from the Register. We will continue accepting fees and renewals, but if people don’t pay, or don’t send in their renewal they will stay on the Register. We will contact people in due course when appropriate to do so.

Focusing on high risk fitness to practise matters

The safety and wellbeing of people who use services remains our priority. We will be changing our referral guidance for the sector, and only requiring them to refer the highest risk situations, such as abusive behaviour. We will delay investigating lower risk cases so the workforce can concentrate on responding to the pandemic.

We will only hold fitness to practise hearings for temporary suspension orders, when we feel somebody should be temporarily suspended from the Register to protect people who use services. We will hold these hearings remotely using video conferencing and support the worker to take part.

Registration qualifications

We understand that some of our workforce may be worried about completing their qualification. We can extend the amount of time people need to complete their qualification and will not remove people from the Register at the end of their period of registration during the pandemic. They can carry on working as normal. We will be in touch at a later time and will discuss with them what time period they need to complete their qualification.

Social work students

We are working with universities to decide if students should continue to go on practice placements and will have a statement on this later this week.

People who have been removed from the Register for not completing their qualification

Anyone who has been removed from the Register for not completing their qualification can apply and we can look at putting them back on.

If someone previously left work (and the Register) because they were approaching the end of the period required to gain qualifications, you can re-employ these workers. They will have the normal period in which to apply for registration, which is currently six months.

People who have left the workforce

We are planning to contact people who have recently left the Register to make sure they are aware that they can still work in the sector (other than as a social worker) even if they are no longer on the Register.
We will issue more detailed guidance shortly.

Contact Information:
Lorraine Wakefield
Communications Manager
Scottish Social Services Council

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We will keep you up to date throughout the week as further information is issued.

Data Protection and Corona Virus

We all share the same concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The need for public bodies and health practitioners to be able to communicate directly with people when dealing with this type of health emergency has never been greater.

Data protection and electronic communication laws do not stop Government, the NHS or any other health professionals from sending public health messages to people, either by phone, text or email as these messages are not direct marketing. Nor does it stop them using the latest technology to facilitate safe and speedy consultations and diagnoses. Public bodies may require additional collection and sharing of personal data to protect against serious threats to public health.

The ICO is a reasonable and pragmatic regulator, one that does not operate in isolation from matters of serious public concern. Regarding compliance with data protection, we will take into account the compelling public interest in the current health emergency.

The safety and security of the public remains our primary concern. The ICO and our colleagues in the public sector have this at the forefront of our minds at this time. We are here to help our colleagues on the frontline. We can offer advice to make sure the law around data protection and direct marketing is clear. Information is available on our website or you can call our helpline on 0303 123 1113.

Arrangements for visiting care homes, resource centres, day centres and lunch clubs

Care homes in East Lothian

East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership is implementing Scottish Government guidance for COVID-19/coronavirus and, from Thursday 19th March 2020, is restricting visiting times to residents at The Abbey, Crookston and Eskgreen Care Homes to Wednesdays and Sundays:

  • 2pm to 3pm
  • 7pm to 8pm.

We ask that only one person visits during these times, no one under the age of 12 years and if you have any underlying health conditions, are over 70 years old or feel unwell in any way, please do not visit. Families will be supported to access the homes at other times if residents needs’ change or circumstances change.

If your relative or friend is at a privately-operated care home or nursing home, please phone them direct to find out what restrictions they have in place.

Resource, Day Centres and Lunch Clubs

We need to follow public health guidance to ensure ‘social distancing’ for our most vulnerable service-users. East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership has reached a decision to suspend the provision of community support and ‘day hospitals’ temporarily from 23 March 2020.  We have written out to services-users and carers to let them know.

This decision also reflects what is happening in other Lothian Health and Social Care partnerships.

We are making arrangements with day centre staff and others to monitor and support people who use our services to offset the effects of the closure of day services.

Arrangements will be made with the Resource Centre staff and others to provide support and to monitor clients to mitigate the effects of the closure of day services, ensuing priority clients have an individual support plan.

Services include:

  • Tynebank, Port Seton and Fisherrow Resource Centres
  • Day Centres
  • Lunch Clubs

We know that many individual day centres and lunch clubs are making arrangements with their service-users for support while the clubs are closed.  Please speak to your day centre or lunch club about their plans.

Our home meals delivery service continues to operate as normal.

Message from the Care Inspectorate

COVID-19 update

I would like to provide an update on how the Care Inspectorate is responding through our contingency planning to the COVID-19 situation.

I’d also like to thank all providers, our social care workforce, and public servants for the work you are doing to protect vulnerable people. The coming weeks and months are going to test us all and I want you to know we are fully committed to supporting all those who provide health and social care services, in order to keep people safe, during this global health emergency. In the Care Inspectorate we have a varied and experienced group of staff and we will be considering how they can help, advise and guide services directly in coming days and weeks.

Over the past week we have taken the decision to scale down our inspections during this time and put in place arrangements which will involve gathering information, assessing the level of risk in care services and establishing assurances about the quality of care people experience. We are only making visits to services when absolutely necessary. We are also operating in a similar manner around complaints.

We intend to be flexible around our registration practice where we may have to register different facilities as time goes on. We will prioritise our registration work to support the national response and the sustainability of services.

At this extremely challenging time, we will support services in their need to apply flexibility and judgement around staffing to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people experiencing care. We recognise that services will need to be creative and make use of a wider range of resources, including potentially staff from other public services and volunteers.

Over recent days, we have issued guidance for all registered care services including early learning and childcare services informing them of the changes we have introduced. I would encourage you to work with your staff to consider what this means in your specific setting and the potential impact it will have on your work.

Guidance and information

We have created a coronavirus COVID-19 page on our website, which we are updating continuously. Currently, it includes information on notifications, staffing levels and registration.

We are also providing regular updates on Twitter, Facebook and in our Provider Updates newsletter, which we are currently sending to all registered care services along with subscribers. I encourage you to follow us on social media and to subscribe to our free e-newsletters service, ensuring you tick the Provider Updates preference when you do so here:

Getting in touch

If you have any concerns, or need any additional guidance, I would ask you to get in touch with your Care Inspectorate contact, who will be able to help you in the usual way. In line with wider public health developments, we will continue to provide updates on our activities at, our social media channels, and through our customer contact centre, on 0345 600 952.

We will review our activity in the weeks ahead and we will continue to support you and people who experience care.

Yours faithfully

Peter Macleod

Chief Executive


Practices in East Lothian are following guidance shared by NHS Scotland and Public Health authorities to minimise risks associated with COVID-19/coronavirus

They are asking for your support to protect patients and staff.

Before you contact your practice, consider checking for advice about corona virus and any other health problems. 

Most patients with symptoms of corona virus will not need assessment and will be able to manage their symptoms at home, following the advice on NHS Inform website.

New appointments

  • Do not go to your practice unless you have been asked to do so by practice staff
  • Do telephone your practice to request an appointment, telling them about your medical need.
  • Expect to be asked questions about your symptoms before any appointment is arranged
  • You may be offered a consultation by phone
  • If you do need a face-to-face appointment, this will be arranged
  • If you need a corona virus assessment, they will ask you to self-isolate for 7 days

Existing appointments

  • Practice clinical teams are reviewing all pre-existing appointments
  • If they think your appointment is not urgent, they may reschedule it for a later date
  • If your appointment needs to go ahead, the practice will offer you a phone consultation, wherever possible
  • Your practice’s admin team will contact you if your appointment is cancelled or changed to a telephone appointment
  • If you need a face-to-face appointment, they will ask you some screening questions to make sure that it is appropriate for you to attend
  • Please try to order repeat prescriptions online.

Access to medical centres

You should only go to your medical practice if you have been invited to do so by a clinician at your practice.

  • People who have not been invited will be asked to leave
  • Only patients with appointments will be allowed into medical practices
  • If you are a parent/guardian/carer, you may be able to attend with the person you care for – please check
  • Remember to use the hand sanitiser provided when entering the building or wash your hands in the patient toilets.

Thank you. We appreciate your co-operation and support

NHS Inform is an excellent source of up to date information.

Mental Welfare Commission Eating disorder surveys

The Mental Welfare Commission is currently reviewing the care and treatment of people with eating disorders in Scotland.

In recent months they carried out a series of visits to wards and community services to look at the care and treatment of people with an eating disorder, and met with patients and families/carers.

They are now keen to hear from people they did not get to meet on these visits, including GPs, psychiatrists, dietitians, those providing psychological therapies, and individuals and families.
Take part at…/eating-disorder-surveys-we-wan…