Updated 23 /12/20
Following the new local level COVID alerts for England announced 19 December, we have carefully reviewed the guidance from government and industry bodies to ensure we are doing the right thing to keep our customers, colleagues and contractors safe at this very challenging time.
The COVID alert levels set out information for local authorities, residents and workers about what to do and how to manage the outbreak in their area.
Here, you can find out about the changes we have made across our developments to follow the government guidance and to keep everyone safe.
How we are looking after our customers
Here, we explain how the new alert system will impact our services on your development in our care.
You can check the local COVID alert level of your local area to see which level applies to you.
In Wales, there are national rather than local levels in place at this time. We will adopt an approach aligned to the very high / stay at home alert areas of England initially, but this will remain under continual review.
Medium alert – Tier 1
If your development is in an area with a medium alert, we will not need to change the way we care for your development. However, it is more important than ever that we all follow social distancing guidance, staying two metres away from people not in your household. We’ll make sure our staff and contractors remain vigilant too by always following social distancing measures when around residents. We have also advised our contractors to wear face coverings within your development where appropriate. We will continue to monitor the alert level in your area and update you with any changes to the services provided at your development.
High alert – Tier 2
If your development is in an area with a high alert, we do not believe we need to make any significant changes to the way we care for your development, but this is under review and we will respond quickly if we need to, in response to government guidance.
We will however, ask our off-site property management teams to limit their travel between areas and developments as far as possible on any given day. While they may not be on site as often, you can still contact them on phone or email if you need them.
It’s more important than ever that we all follow social distancing guidance, staying two metres away from people not in your household. We’ll make sure our staff and contractors remain vigilant too by always following social distancing measures when around residents, and we have advised our contractors to wear face coverings within your development where appropriate.
Very high alert – Tier 3
If your development is in an area with a very high alert, we have to make some changes to the way we care for your development to make sure we are following the latest government guidance and to keep everyone safe. We are continuing to endeavour to ensure services to your development remain as close to normal as possible. However, the changes we are making are:
- We are reviewing any major works projects and may pause projects that we feel are not time sensitive or urgent
- Many of our contractors are still working but we anticipate some of our contractors may reduce service levels. We will let you know if your development is impacted by this.
- We will make sure our contractors remain vigilant by always following social distancing measures when around residents. We have advised our contractors to wear face coverings within your development where appropriate
- Our off-site property management teams will only visit your development in an emergency/for essential works, and/or to review external areas of the development, but you can still contact them by phone or email if you need them.
Stay at home – Tier 4
If your development is in an area with a stay at home alert, we have to make some changes to the way we care for your development to make sure we are following the latest government guidance and to keep everyone safe. We are continuing to endeavour to ensure services to your development remain as close to normal as possible. However, the changes we are making are:
- Property Managers will only complete external inspections (unless there is an emergency inside the development) while following social distancing guidance.
- Associate Directors and other support teams will only travel to sites if essential.
If your development has communal facilities and/or site staff
Parcel delivery: Parcel delivery: During this time, we are asking for parcels to be delivered directly to properties where possible and practical. If this is not the case, additional measures are in place to enable contact free collection from the usual collection points and staff are adopting additional hygiene measures before and after handling any parcels.
Bins and refuse collection: We expect your local authority to maintain refuse collections during this time. However, we do need your help to please keep rubbish in tied bags and evenly distributed between your development bins. This is important to make sure that bin collections can take place, and that overflowing waste or dumped bulky items are not left blocking access, and to reduce the likelihood of attracting pests or rodents. If your development has bin stores and/or refuse chutes, we have tried to temporarily relocate bins to street level, where possible and safe to do so, to make sure that bins can be easily collected even if site staff are unavailable and/or further restrictions are enforced by government. Our operational teams have conducted a site by site review to find the most sensible compromise for your development. If you notice any refuse issues, please notify your property manager and we will liaise with the local authority and/or key contractors, as required.
Communal amenities: Any amenities or communal facilities, such as a gyms, will be open as long as government restrictions allow and only if they can be managed in a COVID secure way. Gyms and pools in Tier 4 areas / level 4 in Wales are closed.
Communal area cleaning, gardening, grounds maintenance and window cleaning: These services will carry on where possible, but with the potential for a reduced frequency due to staff and/or contractor availability. We have reminded all contractors that they must be strictly following social distancing guidance and must not attend site if they or any of their household have symptoms or have been unwell. Cleaners have been advised to make sure they focus on high touch areas like door handles, lift call buttons, and stair rails.
Lifts: Our main lift contractors have confirmed that they will only be carrying out site visits for entrapments and emergency call outs. We would therefore encourage you to use the stairs rather than the lift if this is possible or you are able to do so. If you do need to use the lift, please make sure that you only share the lift with other members of your household. In the event of a lift failure, please use the emergency call point in the lift and call emergency services on 999 if there are no staff on site.
Communal systems: If there is a communal heating system at your development and this were to breakdown, please be aware that response times to repair this are likely to be delayed but will be attended to as soon as possible. Please use your domestic immersion heaters where possible.
Emergency access to communal amenities: A set of keys for emergency use by authorised contractors to access communal amenities and services has been left with a volunteer resident in case there are any issues with staff being able to get to your development. These will only be used if it is necessary to check the heating system, plant room, water boosters or any other vital systems behind a locked door. This does not include any keys for individual properties.
Essential reactive maintenance: We are working to make sure that essential services, for instance reactive maintenance to breakdowns, leaks or electrical faults, or pest control can still be undertaken by our contractors wherever possible.
For Estates Only
Grounds maintenance: Grounds maintenance services will continue wherever possible but with the potential for a reduced frequency due to staff and/or contractor availability. We have reminded all contractors that they must be strictly following social distancing guidance and must not attend site if they or any of their household have symptoms or have been unwell.
Essential reactive services: We are working to make sure that essential reactive services can still be undertaken on estates developments wherever possible. These would include reactive support for any urgent issues with pump stations, sewage treatment plants, complete street lighting failure (if managed by Mainstay) and electric gates.
How we are looking after our staff
Our guiding principle remains taking care of our colleagues and customers and to safeguard their health and well-being. We are continuing to provide flexible, remote working and the overwhelming majority of our colleagues will continue to work from home.
All staff must wash their hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser and that they must self-isolate and follow NHS guidelines if they, or anyone in their household, develops symptoms. All staff must adhere to the two metre rule. Walking, cycling or traveling in own cars are the recommended forms of transport.
These following approaches reflect our baseline position which is then flexed as appropriate to comply with changing risk classifications by government (as above) and/or any specific local lockdown measures.
Office based staff
- Office attendance is restricted to a limited number of colleagues unable to work from home, and contractors required to carry out critical works.
- Staff are briefed using our ‘return to office guidance’ and agree to follow the set hygiene and social distancing protocols when attending the office. Contractors will also be briefed on attendance.
- Face-to-face meetings with colleagues are limited only to exceptional circumstances.
- Prominent signage, hand washing reminders and distance markers are displayed around the office.
- All staff are required to apply anti-bacterial hand gel every time they enter the office and to use anti-bacterial wipes to clean down touchpoints and desk and equipment before and after use.
- Meetings with visitors are permitted in exceptional circumstances and conducted in the COVID Secure environment, adopting all measures as set out by the risk assessment.
- Confined areas are limited to one person only.
- Colleagues handling parcels and/or post are to sanitise their hands before and after handling objects and signing paperwork.
- Cleaning of equipment and high-risk areas has been increased.
Staff based at a managed property
- All staff must apply anti-bacterial hand gel upon entering and leaving buildings and re-entering vehicles.
- Staff must adhere to two meters social distance, must not enter confined areas where other people are present and not make any form of contact with anyone.
- Staff should remain in communal areas and not enter customer’s properties, except in exceptional H&S or building critical circumstances. Before entry, staff should make prior arrangements to avoid face-to-face contact and adopt strict social distancing and hygiene measures. Staff should not enter the property if an occupant has symptoms or is self-isolating, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household.
- Properties that have reported confirmed cases to us are being recorded centrally, and contact should be made with office staff before arranging the visit, to check this central record. The visit should only be re-scheduled when the appropriate cleaning has taken place.
- Signage will be displayed on a main notice board to advise that a Mainstay representative is in attendance to inform residents and to aid social distancing.
- Staff should not accept food or drink from others while visiting sites and not pass any objects (such as pens) to or from other persons.
- Outside spaces or well-ventilated areas are to be used to converse with others, if required, maintaining social distance at all times.
- Any amenities or communal facilities such as a gyms, community centres, residents’ rooms and children’s play areas will remain closed until further notice.
- Face coverings, as defined by Government, can be used. Staff are encouraged to wear face coverings particularly when interacting with the public in enclosed public spaces.
- The use of small underground car parks within blocks is not recommended and alternative local, open air parking should be sourced where possible.
- Clinically extremely vulnerable people can return to normal working settings but are to take extra care with social distancing requirements.
Staff travelling to managed properties
- Colleagues are permitted to travel to properties as required, on their own, by walking, cycling or using their own car.
- Anti-bacterial hand gel must be applied upon entering and leaving buildings and re-entering vehicles;
- Colleagues must adhere to two meters’ social distance, must not enter confined areas where other people are present, or shake hands or make any form of contact with anyone.
- Visits to individual properties are permitted only in exceptional health and safety or building critical circumstances. Any arrangements for visits to individual properties are to be communicated in advance along with details of the COVID-19 precautions that will be taken. Visits will not be made if occupants of the property are shielding or are displaying symptoms.
- No more than one site is to be visited on a given day, unless colleagues have had the opportunity to shower and change in between.
Personal Protective Equipment
- In accordance with government advice, no additional PPE beyond what is usually worn is recommended on the basis that it is not considered beneficial.
- Staff are encouraged to wear face coverings particularly when interacting with the public in enclosed public spaces.
Meetings / Contact
- Our main contact points for customers remain open, however we are encouraging our customers to e-mail or use our portal, leaving our phone lines open for emergencies and calls of an urgent nature.
- Telephone/conference and virtual meeting technology should be used rather than holding meetings in person.
- Face-to-face meetings with colleagues and customers, are to be limited only to exceptional circumstances. Any meeting that occurs must follow strict hygiene and social distancing protocols.
Please refer to the links below for the most recent information from the Government and NHS about the Coronavirus situation in the UK.
The Government’s latest advice:
- England – https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
- Wales – https://gov.wales/coronavirus
- Scotland – https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/
NHS latest advice: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Government travel advice – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice