By Rebecca Curley, Local Democracy Reporter
Children at risk of abuse or harm are being contacted by social workers as they continue to try and support vulnerable residents across Surrey, the county council’s chief executive assured.
Joanna Killian said frontline staff are doing all they can to support people as she recognises the government’s lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus could be tough on families.
And she said they are looking at ways to provide more online support for children and adults with mental health issues as they become isolated in their homes.
She said: “I think it’s going to be really difficult for people to stay in and it’s going to put a lot of pressure on families. It’s critical now.
“We are worried about domestic abuse and thinking about how we can get some more vulnerable people their support.”
Details of how frontline staff such as social workers and charities and volunteers who support families can still move around the county are being finalised.
But she added: “It’s really important for those children at risk of harm and abuse that we still have social workers to visit them and support them.
“I’m particularly worried about children with mental health issues as they will find it really difficult to get out and about.”
Online resources are being developed with mental health colleagues and social workers have a number of families where home visits will still be carried out and Skype or phone calls will be made regularly with others.
Through her role as chief executive of Surrey County Council, Ms Killian is also working flat out with the Surrey Local Resilience Forum which is coordinating the major incident declared as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
High on their agenda is getting the personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers, care providers and frontline staff.
And plans are being put in place to make sure there is support and care for patients when they leave hospital.
Ms Killian said: “We are making sure that we have got all of our contingency plans so we can ensure people leaving hospital can go into the right care setting as quickly as possible.”
She believes there are around 12,000 people in Surrey who are over 70 and living with complex conditions.
But she said staff were trained to deal with this crisis.
She added: “We have a plan that those who are most vulnerable can get the care they need.
“This is a military operation, but we are trained to be like this. Some of it’s very uncomfortable, but we have got to do it.
“They are long days but in a way it’s energising. We have got to do it. We don’t have a choice.”
Surrey’s Local Resilience Forum (LRF) is a multi-agency partnership made up of representatives from local public services, including the emergency services, local authorities, NHS England and the Environment Agency, which are all Category One Responders under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.
The Surrey LRF is also supported by Category Two Responders, such as Highways England and utility companies.
Steve Owen-Hughes, Surrey’s chief fire officer and chair of the Surrey LRF, said: “Please be assured that local services across Surrey are working hard on your behalf to help you through what is a challenging time for everyone.
“It is absolutely vital therefore that everyone follows official Government advice on preventing the spread of Covid-19 and keeps looking out for our most vulnerable – that includes making sure our shops and supermarkets are well stocked for everyone.
“We will continue to do all we can to protect the resources of the National Health Service, keep our vital local services functioning, and protecting our residents.”
Surrey County Council has set up a community helpline to direct residents who need support and advice to those wanting to volunteer to offer to help. Call the helpline on 0300 200 1008.
More coronavirus information