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Coronavirus: Belfast Trust to address safety fears at adult day centres

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Risks: Paula Bradshaw

Risks: Paula Bradshaw

Risks: Paula Bradshaw

Concerns have been raised over the safety of adults with learning disabilities and the staff at day care centres.

Belfast Trust has come under fire after it emerged social distancing measures have not yet been put in place at its adult day care centres.

Staff have also complained that they have not been given the proper equipment to reduce the spread of the virus.

Under the latest government guidance, at risk groups include people aged under 70 with an underlying health condition, including a learning disability or cerebral palsy.

Despite this, service users are still being taken to and from the centres by bus and are still able to interact with one another without proper distance measures being put in place.

A spokesman from the trust said: “Belfast Trust is actively reviewing the provision of day care as part of the management of Covid-19.

“Changes to services at these day centres will be implemented following a risk assessment process to ensure vulnerable individuals and carers are identified.

“Belfast Trust will directly communicate with service users and families next week in advance of any changes and where appropriate alternative support will be provided as far as possible until such times services return to normal.”

The Alliance Party’s health spokeswoman Paula Bradshaw said: “I fully recognise the value of the Adult Day Centres, both for the service users and their families.

I sincerely hope that the risk assessment is carried out with the utmost urgency and issues such as protective clothing and materials for the staff are secured without further delay Paula Bradshaw

“As such, I would not like to see them close down, however, I have been contacted by members of the Belfast staff teams, who are really concerned about the high probability of community transmission, given their close proximity on the buses, the continued use of the rooms for many people and the lack of personal protective equipment and personal intimate care equipment.

“It would appear from this trust’s statement that the management has only just woken up to the risks posed by Covid-19, especially among this very vulnerable group of people.

“I sincerely hope that the risk assessment is carried out with the utmost urgency and issues such as protective clothing and materials for the staff are secured without further delay.”

Officials are asking people to avoid going out in public as much as possible to slow the spread of coronavirus and reduce the pressure on the health service.

This includes avoiding the use of public transport where possible, avoiding large and small gatherings in public spaces and even avoiding visiting friends and family in their homes.

Last week, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes, cinemas and gyms should close their doors.

On Saturday, he urged people to refrain from visiting their mums on Mother’s Day.

Schools will remain open in the coming weeks and months for the children of key workers to attend. However, parents are being asked to only send their children to school if they cannot find alternative childcare.

It has been introduced to slow down the spread of the virus, while also allowing vital staff, such as doctors and nurses to go to work as the health service faces its greatest ever challenge.

Day centres for adults with learning disabilities play a vital role, not only offering social opportunities for the people who use them, but they also provide important respite for families.

Belfast Telegraph