To make sure that we have good communication and transparency during this challenging time, please find below all emails and blog posts that have been shared by leadership and internal comms relating to Covid-19. 

All staff comms and blogs

Dear Colleagues

Today’s statement from the Scottish Government has confirmed that the current COVID-19 restrictions on hospitality and on visiting other households will remain in place until a new strategic framework comes in to place on 2 November.   

Different local authorities will be place under different levels – this will be reviewed on a weekly basis.  We anticipate that the Scottish Government will confirm which level Aberdeen City will be placed into next week (w/c 26 October). 

Full details of the system can be found at here  – with a short summary below of what each level may look like in practice: 

  • Level 0  – you can meet indoors in limited numbers (eight people from three households) and most businesses would be allowed to open. 
  • Level 1 – indoor meetings were reduced to six people from two households. But still a “reasonable degree of normality overall”.  
  • Level 2 – similar to those in place now outside the central belt – there are limitations on hospitality and there’s no gathering allowed inside homes 
  • Level 3 – similar to what is in place in the central belt right now. These tougher restrictions include much of hospitality being closed completely restaurants should be able to open at least partially 
  • Level 4  – will be used at times when the pandemic is putting pressure on the health service and running the risk of the NHS being overwhelmed. It would include non-essential shops closing but there will be no limit on outdoor exercise, and six people from two households will still be allowed to meet outdoors. 

 Out with this new framework, it is critical that we continue to follow the guidance laid out in the Scottish Government FACTS campaign:  

  • F – Face coverings in enclosed spaces – shops, public transport or anywhere else inside that physical distancing might be more difficult.  
  • A – Avoid all crowded places. Indoors, obviously, but outdoors as well.   
  • C – Clean your hands and hard surfaces regularly.  
  • T – Two metre distancing remains the overall advice.   
  • and S – Self isolate, and book a test, if you have any of the symptoms of COVID.  

All Coronavirus guidance can be found on People AnytimeThis is updated on a regular basis in line with any Government updates so please ensure you check the site on a regular basis.  Wider Aberdeen City updates are also available on the external ACC website.   

Have you downloaded the Test and Protect app?  You can find out more information here and download it from www.protect.scot. You can also access the app view your usual app supplier via Apple or Android. 

Stay safe 

Dear colleagues  

Please find below a short round up of some of the latest COVID-19 updates.  You can find all COVID-19 on People Anytime. 

  • Special leave arrangements: During COVID-19 we have allowed up to 14 days paid special leave to support parents/carers who have been unable to a Covid-19 related disruption.  This provision has ceased and we will revert to our standard special leave arrangements. You will now be encouraged to use other forms of leave such as annual leave, unpaid special leave and flexi leave – full details available at here. There will be some circumstances in which paid special leave is still available details of which are available on the link above. 
  • Travel during the October holiday: Please follow Scottish Government guidelines on travel during the October holiday.  Details of the guidance are available here. If you are out and about remember to follow any guidance wearing a face covering and physical distancing.   
  • Self-isolation for supply teachers and relief workers:   Please read the latest FAQs  for advice on payments as a result of being asked to self-isolate.   

 

In addition, we would like to remind you to update your working arrangements in CoreHR. As an organisation, we need to monitor the impact Coronavirus is having on our workforce so we have accurate information, on a day-to-day basis, about where and how people are working, whether they have symptoms, and if they are self-isolating.  By logging how you are working in CoreHR you can help us to track this. Find details and how to do this here. 

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, please download the Test and Protect app from NHS Scotland.  You can find out more information and download the app from www.protect.scot or use the buttons opposite or from your usual app supplier.  

Stay Safe 

Internal Comms

Dear Colleagues 

Since March the Coronavirus outbreak has had an impact on all of us across the organisation, whether this be working from home, undertaking alternative duties and/or those that are self-isolating.  

As an organisation, we need to monitor the impact Coronavirus is having on our workforce so we have accurate information, on a day-to-day basis, about where and how people are working, whether they have symptoms, and if they are self-isolating.  In addition, we are required to report to COSLA around our working arrangements during the pandemic. 

We are therefore asking all staff to: 

  1. Look back and input missing data from March onwards. 
  2. Ensure that each week you record their current working arrangements in the Special Leave section of CoreHR, using the codes listed below.  These codes allow us to record whether we are unable to undertake our normal role, attend our normal place of work during the outbreak or if we are self-isolating.  
  3. Keep your records up to date.  
  4. If you are performing alternative working arrangements will also need to update CoreHR using these codes.  

This data is also vital from a statutory duty of care perspective, so that we can offer appropriate support, where needed, to individuals based on their current working arrangements.  

For those staff with no (or limited) access to CoreHR, managers will be able to update this information on your behalf.  Please speak to your line manager if this is the case and you require their assistance.  

This week we are undertaking a data verification exercise around this, so require everyone to check that they have recorded their information in CoreHR as required.  Your assistance in this exercise is vital and greatly appreciated.  

You can find also find the codes on People Anytime here.

CoreHR Codes 

Leave Type 

Reasons 

Description 

Sick Leave – COVID 

  

COVID – Symptoms 

To be used where an individual has COVID-19 symptoms and is unfit to work due to illness 

Special Leave (Paid) inc COVID 

COVID – Caring Responsibilities  

COVID – Self Isolation/ Symptoms 

COVID – Service Closure 

COVID – Underlying Medical Condition 

To be used where an individual is unable to work from home or in an alternative way due to the  impacts of COVID-19, but is otherwise fit to work 

COVID – Working from Home 

COVID – Alternative to normal work  

COVID – Caring Responsibilities  

COVID – Self Isolation/ Symptoms 

COVID – Underlying Medical Condition 

To be used where an individual is fit to work and is able to undertake work from home or in an alternative way but is impacted by COVID-19 

COVID – Temp Movement of Staff 

Undertaking temporary duties only 

Full contracted role & temp duties 

Partial contracted role & temp duties 

To be used where an individual has been temporarily reallocated to undertake alternative work 

If you have any queries, please contact employeerelations@aberdeencity.gov.uk

  

In the meantime, please remember to continue to check People Anytime for further updates to Coronavirus guidance and advice.  

Thanks

Isla

Today’s announcement from the Scottish Government has confirmed that due to the increased rate of COVID-19 cases across the country, some restrictions are being re-introduced and/or increased.  Some of these restrictions may be in place for around 6 months although will be reviewed in 3 weeks’ time (13 October). 

These new restrictions do not constitute a full lockdown, instead they are carefully targeted at key sources of transmission. Further detail on the application of the restrictions is expected in the coming days but there is no direct impact to currently approved working arrangements across the Council at this stage. 

A summary of the announcement is set out below.   

  • Everyonewho can work from home should continue to work from home. 
  • A package of support will be available to those who are asked to self-isolate: including help with food deliveries and financial support for those on low incomes.   
  • Inside people’s homes (from tomorrow, 23 Wednesday 2020). 
  • Do not meet people from any other households in your home or another person’s home socially, unless they are in your extended household.  
  • These rules also apply to children
  • Children whose parents do not live in the same household can move between homes, as can non-cohabiting couples
  • Limited exemptions apply for childcare, and for tradespeople.
  • Private gardens or public outdoors spaces (from tomorrow, 23 Wednesday September 2020). 
  • A maximum of six people from two households can meet in outdoor spaces.
  • You should limit as far as possible the total number of households you meet in a day.
    • Under-12s do not count towards the maximum number of households or number of people who can meet outdoors. Under-12s do not have to physically distance. 
  • A maximum of six 12 to 17 year olds can meet in outdoor spaces, with no household limit. Physical distancing is still required.
  • Indoors in public spaces (from tomorrow, Wednesday 23 September 2020). 
  • A maximum of six people from two households can meet in public indoor spaces such as cafes, pubs and restaurants.
  • Children under 12 from those two households do not count towards the limits.
  • Hospitality(from 00:01 Friday 25 September 2020) 
  • Pubs, restaurants and all hospitality settings will be required to close at 10pm
  • Table service will continue to be required in all hospitality premises
  • Car sharing: 
  • You should only car share with members of your own, or extended, household, and follow guidance when there is no alternative

  • The First Minister also advised everyone not to book non-essential foreign travel for the October holiday. 

 

If you are in the Shielding category, there is no plan to reintroduce shielding at this time.  You can find advice here. 

Have you downloaded the Test and Protect app?  You can find out more information here and download it from www.protect.scot. You can also access the app view your usual app supplier via Apple or Android. 

With the increase in infections and the new restrictions in mind, it is critical that we continue to follow the guidance laid out in the Scottish Government FACTS campaign:  

  • F – Face coverings in enclosed spaces – shops, public transport or anywhere else inside that physical distancing might be more difficult. 
  • A – Avoid all crowded places. Indoors, obviously, but outdoors as well.  
  • C – Clean your hands and hard surfaces regularly. 
  • T – Two metre distancing remains the overall advice.  
  • and S – Self isolate, and book a test, if you have any of the symptoms of COVID. 

 

The new restrictions are symbolic of a new sense of normal where we are routinely living with the impact of Covid-19.  Understandably, you may be feeling anxious. If this is the case, please remember you can talk to your manager or access the resources on our wellbeing advice page at any time.  (This includes how to access our confidential employee assistance partner, Time for Talking.)

The guidance is continually under review and we will monitor the situation. If there are any changes which impact ACC services or our workforce we will let you know. In the meantime, all Coronavirus guidance can be found on People Anytime. This is updated on a regular basis in line with any Government updates so please ensure you check the site on a regular basis.  

Wider Aberdeen City updates are also available on the external ACC website.  

 

Stay safe 

Fraser

Last week I confirmed that we are now shifting our focus to get to the next COVID phase of Recovery. Within this next phase, I anticipate that we will experience a new sense of normal where we are routinely living with COVID. I do recognise that some of us will be ready to move into this “next normal”, whilst others may not be ready and still feel worried about the future. We will enter and get through this next phase supporting each other as one team. We already see evidence of this ethos in action in the DERCs’ thoughtful and insightful webinar from Friday, where they shared their own reflections of the past six months.   

My reflections

As I look back over the last 6 months, I do with so with an incredible amount of pride in the contribution the council and its partners have made to the local response to a global pandemic. It seems to me that we have lived our Guiding Principles throughout:

  • We have focused on our purpose

  • We have worked as one team

  • We have trusted and valued each other’s contribution to the response.

Martin Wylie and Gordon McDade have created a short video which showcases some of what has been achieved. This video is full of appreciation and recognition for the part every one of you has played in the COVID response and I hope as you watch it, you experience the same level of pride I felt in the organisation and every one of you.

As we take these gentle steps to the next normal, it is important that we also take some time to reflect on the time past…

Every single member of staff has excelled during this crisis with an unrelenting focus on protecting the people, place, and economy of Aberdeen.

I am determined that we find ways to sustain the energy, urgency and passion for our shared purpose that I have witnessed over the last six months, but without the fear and stress of the earlier phases of the pandemic. I also see innovation and changes in the way we work arising from the crisis that I would like to sustain, but I equally see the challenges. I want to make sure that for however long we live with this virus and beyond, that we learn from this experience and use it to improve work and life, for everyone. ​​​​​​​

What are your reflections?

It’s a sure bet that as the crisis recedes, we will all individually be taking time to reflect on our sense of purpose – whether that be our sense of purpose as an individual within our own family and community or whether it’s our professional sense of purpose through the work we do. If we do not reflect on life’s direction and meaning when life as we have known it has felt so threatened, when will we?  A search for meaning is intrinsic to our recovery from this crisis.

Following this life changing event, and your own reflection on your personal purpose, I hope you explore how that personal purpose can be better met at work.

And I ask you to share some of these reflections. It is critical for me, as it is for all business leaders, to understand the large-scale shifts that are happening in people’s mindsets about work, so that we are adapting and changing as organisation to meet these new expectations from work.

So I am inviting you to take an hour out of your working day over the next four weeks to think back on the last six months, reflect on your experience as an Aberdeen City Council employee and the changes you have moved through during this time, and take part in the Future of Work survey. Look out for a further email and communications in next couple of days with your invitation to share your reflections. 

Last week the First Minister confirmed that we will not yet move to phase 4, the final phase, of the Scottish Government’s route map through the COVID-19 virus. Moving to this phase would only have been possible if the virus were suppressed to very low levels and no longer considered a significant threat to public health. The reality is that we will have to continue to live with COVID-19 for some time.  Even when an effective COVID-19 vaccine is achieved, it will be many months before we will have the capacity to vaccinate everyone. Commentators are suggesting that countries will need to plan for a further period during which public health measures are the primary tools for saving lives. In the meantime, the world, including Aberdeen City Council, needs to move forward.

To do this successfully will need us, as a Council, to shift our focus.

From Rescue to Recovery

On 28 May 2020, the Scottish Government announced that the country would move into Phase 1 of its Route Map.  This signalled the end of the ‘Rescue’ stage and the beginning of the ‘Transition’ stage of the Council’s response. We now need to prepare for the ‘Recovery’ stage. We have managed our way through the Rescue and Transition stage of this pandemic well. As we prepare for Recovery, it will be characterised by a new sense of us “living alongside COVID-19”.

This will require careful monitoring, through ensuring that we have a comprehensive infection surveillance system in place to give early warning of potential outbreaks. Testing is a critical part of this system. In addition, we must have plans in place to enable the reintroduction of measures if required in the future, to prevent uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.

It is appropriate to carefully step down the emergency response structures we put in place to support the Rescue and Transition stages. So, in my blog this week I share with you how we propose to move from emergency response and look to embed Recovery into our “business as usual” arrangements. 

 

Surveillance arrangements 

NHS Grampian recently published an Outbreak Control Plan  for the city.  The Health Protection surveillance arrangements described within the plan include the establishment of a multi-agency regional partnership group to contribute to the surveillance work of public health colleagues.  The Council’s input will primarily be through Environmental Health & Protective Services and Data & Insights colleagues.

In addition, the Council will complement citywide, regional, and national surveillance activities by continuing to monitor the social, environmental, and economic impacts of COVID-19 through a newly established ‘Surveillance’ team.  This is being led jointly by Chief Officer for Data & Insights, Martin Murchie, and Chief Officer for Governance, Fraser Bell, and will remain in place for as long as required.

  

Re-activating emergency response arrangements if required

The work of our Surveillance team will continue to be informed by data and the circumstances of any anticipated lockdown (whether it be national, localised, sectoral etc.).  Following consultation with myself as Chief Executive and the relevant Duty Emergency Response Co-ordinator (DERC), the surveillance team will be responsible for recommending the reinstatement of the council’s emergency response structures. The extent to which structures are reinstated would depend on the nature of any outbreak.  Should a local outbreak be identified, NHS Grampian may establish a local multi-agency Incident Management Team (IMT).  Should the impact of any future outbreak create consequences that impact on several public agencies, the Grampian Local Resilience Partnership (LRP) may be activated.  ​​​​​​​

Emergency powers

Throughout lockdown,  the Duty Emergency Response Co-ordinators  (DERCs) and myself have used emergency powers over decisions which would normally require us to report to Elected Members at Committee. These set out in the ‘Powers Delegated to Officers’ allow the Chief Executive and DERC:

“To take, or arrange for the taking of, any action on behalf of the Council which s/he considers necessary in the event of:  

  • an emergency (as “emergency” is defined in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004), and/or 
  • any incident or situation that requires the implementation of special arrangements…” 

These emergency powers have been used through the Rescue and Transition phases.  In addition, two meetings of the Urgent Business Committee took place in May and June using Microsoft Teams. As planned during the transition stage, we have now returned to our normal committee cycle following the summer recess, with a hybrid approach to attendance. As required by the council’s standing orders, I will submit a report on the use of the emergency powers used by me and the DERCs  throughout the rescue and transition phase. ​​​​​​​

Webinar: The story of the last six months – the road to recovery

These have been challenging times for us all. I am grateful to the three Duty Emergency Response Co-ordinators who have helped steer us through this crisis. I invite you to join them during a live webinar on Friday at 10am where they will share with you their story of the last six months, how they have mobilised and co-ordinated our emergency response for the city and enabled us to move from Rescue, through Transition and towards Recovery.  This will be a fascinating insight into the behind the scenes work that went into what happened, what we put in place to manage, and how we’re moving out of it.

We can all take a great deal of pride from the role we have played in protecting the city during this time. Let us now draw energy and direction from our shared organisational purpose of ensuring that the economy, place, and people of Aberdeen prosper and keep that as our focus as we move into the recovery phase of this pandemic.

Sent on behalf of @Gale Beattie (Chief Officer – Strategic Place Planning, acting as Duty Emergency Response Coordinator (DERC))

Dear colleagues,

Following a review on Thursday 10th September, the Scottish Government confirmed that, because of an increase in cases of COVID-19, we are not yet able to move to phase 4 of the route map set by Scottish Government. Further lifting of restrictions that were planned for 14 September have been given a revised indicative date of Monday 5 October. Some restrictions are also being re-imposed. A summary of the changes are as follows:

  • Seeing family and friends: There are increased restrictions on gatherings. From Monday 14 September, a maximum of 6 people from up to 2 households can meet socially – this applies to all locations for example at home, in hospitality or outdoors in a park or garden.
  • Shopping, eating out and drinking: There are increased requirements on indoor hospitality. From Monday 14 September it will be mandatory for customers in hospitality settings to wear face coverings when not eating or drinking, i.e. when moving around. It will also be mandatory for staff working in hospitality settings to wear face coverings.
  • Gatherings and occasions: Funerals and weddings can have up to 20 people in attendance. From Monday, wakes and receptions can also resume with up to 20 people in attendance, as long as they take place in regulated venues like hotels, with restrictions in place.
  • Sport, culture and leisure: No relaxation to earlier guidelines, so no spectators for theatres, gigs and sports arenas. Outdoor events cannot restart either.
  • Higher education: Continue to re-open in line with route map
  • Schools and childcare: No changes
  • Working or running a business: No changes
  • Community and public services: No changes
  • Health and Social Care: No changes
  • Public transport:  No changes.

 

If you are in the Shielding category, there is no plan to reintroduce shielding, but further guidance will follow from the Chief Medical Officer in the coming days.

The First Minister has advised that we are likely to remain in phase 3 for some time yet, as we need to be satisfied that there is no longer threat to public health, which is not the case at this time.  The next review date is Thursday 1st October. 

Read the full announcement and guidance on the Scottish Government website

Protect Scotland

Something we can all do right now to protect Scotland is to download and register on the new Test &  Protect app. You can find out more information here and download it from www.protect.scot

Please share with your friends and family.

With the increase in infections and the new restrictions in mind, it is critical that we continue to follow the guidance laid out in the Scottish Government FACTS campaign:

  • F – Face coverings in enclosed spaces – shops, public transport or anywhere else inside that physical distancing might be more difficult.
  • A – Avoid all crowded places. Indoors, obviously, but outdoors as well. 
  • C – Clean your hands and hard surfaces regularly.
  • T – Two metre distancing remains the overall advice. 
  • and S – Self isolate, and book a test, if you have any of the symptoms of COVID.

Understandably you may be feeling anxious at this time. If this is the case, please remember you can talk to your manager or access the resources on our wellbeing advice page at any time. 

All Coronavirus guidance can be found on People Anytime. This is updated on a regular basis in line with any Government updates so please ensure you check the site on a regular basis. Wider Aberdeen City updates are also available on the external ACC website

Stay safe,

Gale

The lifting of local restrictions last week was a welcome relief for the hospitality sector. At the same time, there will be others for whom the local restrictions will have continued to make them feel uncomfortable about re-engaging with normal city life.  

The path of the city’s economy will depend on the course of the virus. Countries that have restored the public’s confidence, or are close to doing so, have seen economic activity return, or begin to return to pre COVID-19 levels. Restoring our confidence is  important for economic reasons, and is also vitally important for our wellbeing to be  able to resume our normal lives.  

So, what are the things we know that might restore our confidence? 

  • The lifting of the restrictions is a clear statement that the spread of the virus is under control 

  • The city’s new case count is now in line with average levels, having reduced significantly from the spike – you can see the data for yourself  

  • The effectiveness of the test and protect system to contact trace 

  • Sufficient testing capacity was mobilised to support the understandable increase in demand for testing 

  • The effectiveness, to date, of our arrangements in schools, which have not seen a spread of positive tests to others 

  • Seeing people wearing masks – and from this week we will see high school/academy pupils wearing masks in communal areas  

It is, of course, as important as ever that we remain vigilant and comply with public health guidance.  Alongside all of this, the ongoing work of our Environmental Health and Trading Standards colleagues, in conjunction with their colleagues in The Health and Safety Executive, will ensure that all sectoral settings are well informed and supported to comply with sectoral specific guidance. 

It is also important to give you confidence about returning to your usual work-based setting, if appropriate. Our own Health and Safety team, working through our Service Reinstatement process, continue to ensure our organisational compliance with guidance to employers. Last week colleagues communicated out about the general workplace risk assessments which have been undertaken and set out details of how to undertake an individual risk assessment.  

For those of you with children and grandchildren, last week saw them return to school. I know both my daughter and I were anxious about her return and I have been focused on trying to help her adapt to the new environment and rules at school.  Like you, going forward, I want to keep my focus on my family and it’s also important to me that I keep my focus on you and that I do all I can to make you feel safe at work. 

Understandably you may be feeling anxious at this time. Please remember you can talk to your manager, our Employee Assistant colleagues at Time for Talking, one of our ACC mental health champions or the City Chaplain. Full contact details and additional advice can be found at wellbeing advice  

We are all adapting and adjusting to this environment of, what feels like, constant change – this can create stress, anxiety and tension so we need to stay connected and continue to be patient and tolerant with each other.   

Stay safe, Angela 

As the additional restrictions in Aberdeen begin to ease this week,  NHS Grampian has published an Outbreak Control Plan for the city.  The aim of the plan is to: 

  • Save lives
  • Reduce and control the spread of infection as quickly as possible 
  • Support and minimise the impact that the virus is having on our most vulnerable groups. 

The Plan sets out how NHS Grampian, working together with the Council and other partners, will manage outbreaks of Covid-19 in Aberdeen.  It builds on experience from the recent outbreak in the city and provides additional guidance on matters such as: 

  • the sharing and monitoring of data regarding Covid-19 in the community
  • the processes for managing incidents and outbreaks
  • arrangements for Test and Trace  
  • the approach to public communication. 

As we move to ‘living with COVID’, we’d encourage you to read through the plan to get a feel for how outbreaks will be managed in the future and for more information on how you can play your part in containing the virus. 

There’s an opportunity for you to feedback comments/improvements to NHSG to help inform Version 2 of the Plan – please do take that chance if you feel there’s a way to enhance it. 

As we move to living with COVID for the foreseeable future, the Corporate Management Team (CMT) recently reviewed the Council’s Emergency Response Structures for managing the pandemic.  As you may recall, in March CMT established two layers of oversight to manage the pandemic: 

  • Strategic: a weekly meeting of the CMT chaired by the Chief Executive
  • Tactical: a now twice weekly meeting of the Incident Management Team (IMT) chaired by the Covid-19 Duty Emergency Response Coordinator (DERC). 

In reviewing the response structures, CMT noted the progress made, including: 

  • Approval of a financial resilience plan to address the financial challenges faced by the Council 

  • Approval of a socio-economic rescue plan to support the place of Aberdeen

  • The reinstatement of the Council’s full committee structure  

  • The development of a surveillance function to monitor the relevant data re Covid-19 in Aberdeen  

  • The development of risk management and business continuity arrangements across the city to reflect the new environment we now operate in

  • The creation of new structures to manage the impact of the pandemic, including, for example, the multi-agency Spaces for People group. 

Whilst both the Council’s Incident Management Team and Service Reinstatement Working Group currently remain in place, taking into account the controls in place, the CMT agreed to keep these arrangements under review, in line with the Scottish Government’s Route Map, with a view to moving to business as usual when appropriate.    

Thanks and stay safe

Fraser 

Dear Colleagues

Scottish Government has recently issued guidance on the COVID-19 risk assessment process for staff. This process should include both a workplace and individual risk assessment for each employee.  (Please note that, if you are homeworking and will continue to work from home, this assessment does not need to be completed until you are likely to return to your usual workplace.) 

 These assessments recognise the combined risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace and an individual employee’s clinical vulnerability to the virus. 

The guidance is particularly relevant to the following groups:  

  • staff members who are returning to work after shielding
  • staff who are returning to normal duties after COVID-19 related restrictions
  • staff returning to the workplace after working from home
  • anyone who has a concern about a particular vulnerability to COVID-19.

Guidance has been included on the People Anytime pages for you to complete this assessment and follow up with your line manager. You can find advice how to complete these assessments here. 

As your employer, ACC is required to: 

  • Complete a general workplace risk assessment and implement measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 as much as possible. These are in place for all critical services and are required for all services proposing to reinstate 
  • Support our employees to use the COVID-19 age Occupational Risk Assessment Tool to identify each staff member’s vulnerability level. This will be low, moderate, high or very high. This can be achieved by the manager and employee completing the form together or by an employee completing it and either sharing the form or advising their manager of their COVID-19 age. A word version of the form can be found here 
  • Follow this up with a constructive conversation with each employee about how they can do their job safely.  

The guidance and forms and are also available on the Safety at Work page of People Anytime 

If you have any queries about these assessments, please contact speak with your line manager in the first instance.  

Regards

Health and Safety

Last week witnessed a one-minute silence throughout the country to commemorate those who lost their lives in the tragic rail derailment at Carmont, Stonehaven on Wednesday 12 August.  An online Book of Condolence has been set up to pay respects to those lost.  Please click here if you would like to leave a message. The families and friends of all those affected by the tragedy continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

Phase 3 extended

On Thursday of last week , Phase 3 of the Scottish Government Routemap was  extended with some changes taking place. Currently there is no indication of when phase 4 will be implemented. Reviews will continue to be held on a 3-weekly basis, with the next review date on the 10 September.   

Aberdeen local restrictions

The additional local restrictions in place in Aberdeen were reviewed by the Scottish Government on Sunday 23 August. The First Minister confirmed the following for Aberdeen:

  • A number of restrictions were lifted at midnight Sunday 23rd August so that, on Monday 24 August, Aberdeen was broadly in line with the rest of Scotland. The lifting of restrictions includes the five-mile travel limit, restrictions on gatherings and limitations on hospital and care home visits.
  • Businesses due to open on Monday 24th August, in line with the national route map, can also reopen, with the exception of cafes, restaurants or any businesses with a hospitality element within them.  These, along with restaurants, pubs, casinos and other hospitality premises, will be able to open from Wednesday 26 August, only once an environmental health check has been completed.

Read more about this from our Duty Emergency Response Co-ordinator, Martin Murchie.

What we focused on last week

Colleagues in Protective Services, led by Andrew Morrison, undertook a huge amount of engagement with the hospitality sector to ensure understanding of the requirements of the latest Scottish Government guidance for that sector. My particular thanks go to Alison Robertson for her incredible hard work and effort in preparing a comprehensive partnership webinar, supported by Iain Hoey and Andrew Gilchrist from the Protective Services team. They were joined by Richard Sweetnam from City Growth to update businesses about the grants available to support them, and by colleagues from Police Scotland and Public Health. The recording and resources from the event will be available on our Aberdeen City Council website from later today (Tuesday).

Building on their previous collaboration to support the administration of the business support grants to city businesses, colleagues across City Growth, Revenues & Benefits and Finance ensured that they were ready to start receiving applications for the bespoke scheme established for Aberdeen in light of local restrictions.

Judith Mohammed, and her senior team at Oldmachar Secondary School, worked with Public Health colleagues who were investigating a single detected case of COVID-19 associated with Oldmachar Academy. As a precautionary measure, the school was closed to all pupils on Friday for cleaning and was re-opened on Monday. So I’d also like to recognise and appreciate Judith and her staff at Oldmachar for their care and commitment to pupil safety during a difficult time for the school.

To summarise last week, we focused on:

  • Supporting the hospitality sector to be able to demonstrate its compliance with Scottish Government guidance for the sector
  • Establishing, at pace, the bespoke business support scheme for Aberdeen
  • Supporting Public Health’s investigation at Oldmachar

Our focus for this week:

  • Environmental Health and Trading Standards colleagues, with the support of colleagues from across 12 councils, will complete the checks on the hospitality sector in anticipation of planned re-opening on Wednesday
  • With Public Health, evaluate the learning from the local lockdown restrictions in Aberdeen to help plan any future response both locally and across Scotland
  • Share the learning from the Public Health investigation at Oldmachar across all our schools

As we look forward to the city coming out of the local restrictions this week, Oldmachar is perhaps a symbol of the ongoing adaption we will have to do in light of COVID-19 and a reiteration of our ongoing reliance on our vital Environmental Health and Trading Standards colleagues to continue to enforce compliance with all the government guidance in order that we can all stay safe.

Following a review on Sunday 23rd August, the Scottish Government confirmed that the local restrictions in Aberdeen City have been partially eased. From midnight last night the five-mile travel limit, restrictions on gatherings and limitations on hospital and care home visits have been lifted.

Businesses due to open today, in line with the national route map, can also reopen; with the exception of cafes, restaurants or businesses with any hospitality element within them.  These, along with restaurants, pubs, casinos and other hospitality premises, will be able to open from midnight Tuesday 25th August.

Read the full announcement and guidance on the Scottish Government website, which is updated with changes to the restrictions coming into effect from today (24th August).

Further staff guidance on the local Aberdeen restrictions is available at Coronavirus restrictions in Aberdeen; this includes advice on shielding, test and protect and travel.

Even as the restrictions start to ease it is important that we continue to follow the guidance laid out in the Scottish Government FACTS campaign:

  • F – Face coverings in enclosed spaces – shops, public transport or anywhere else inside that physical distancing might be more difficult.
  • A – Avoid all crowded places. Indoors, obviously, but outdoors as well. 
  • C – Clean your hands and hard surfaces regularly.
  • T – Two metre distancing remains the overall advice. 
  • and S – Self isolate, and book a test, if you have any of the symptoms of COVID.

You can find details of test and protect and what to do if you are contacted by the contact trace team here.

Understandably you may be feeling anxious at this time. If this is the case, please remember you can talk to your manager or access the resources on our wellbeing advice page at any time. 

All Coronavirus guidance can be found on People Anytime. This is updated on a regular basis in line with any Government updates so please ensure you check the site on a regular basis. Wider Aberdeen City updates are also available on the external ACC website

Stay safe 

Dear Colleagues

Following today’s announcement from the Scottish Government, Phase 3 has been extended with some changes taking place. Currently there is no indication of when phase 4 will be implemented. Reviews will continue to be held on a 3-weekly basis with the next review date on the 10 September.   

Specific guidance on additional local restrictions is available at – local restrictions in Aberdeen. These restrictions are being reviewed by the Scottish Government on Sunday 23 August. An announcement will be made following this review. You can find our most recent update on these restrictions on the intranet  or at Coronavirus comms

The First Minister confirmed some easing of restrictions within phase 3, these are subject to any local restrictions currently in place. These include:  

  • From 24 August – outdoor live events and outdoor sports and coaching can take place. 
  • From 24 August – indoor face to face advice services such as citizens advice can reopen with appropriate procedures in place 
  • From 31 August – Gym facilities can reopen for non-contact activities only  

Also, working from home remains the default position. No changes will be made to your current working arrangements unless 

  • Your service has been reinstated in line with the route map.  
  • Necessary risk assessments have been carried out; and 
  • Your line manager has shared these risk assessments with you.   

Find out more about how we are reinstating our services and how we are looking after your safety as we continue to live alongside COVID-19. 

Advice and guidance on working from home can also be found on People Anytime.  

Information and advice for employees on shielding, test and protect, annual leave and wider COVID-19 guidance can be found on the Coronavirus FAQs page.  

Details of any additional changes to individual services will be published on the council website on a regular basis.    

Every three weeks the government will review how the virus is being controlled and decide to what extent it can move from one phase to another. Not everything currently listed in a single phase will necessarily happen at the same time. The next review date for this is on the 10 September and we will provide another full update in line with that. 

Stay Safe

Martin , Isla, Stephen

The Scottish Government confirmed today that the local restrictions in Aberdeen City will remain in place, however there will be a mid-week review on Sunday 23 August. We will share an update with you following this review. A full review will be held on Wednesday 26 August and we will provide a further update at that time.  

The aim is to start lifting some restrictions next Wednesday but this will be confirmed at the next review.  

The advice issued last week (which you can read below) remains in place until the next review.  You can read the full guidance at Local Advice and Measures on the Scottish Government website.   

No changes have been made to the restrictions in place and they remain as follows: 

  • Residents of the city should not travel more than five miles for leisure or recreational purposes. You can travel for work or education. 
  • If you live out with Aberdeen, you should only travel in to attend work or to attend an educational establishment. 
  • Indoor and outdoor hospitality will remain closed.  Take away facilities can remain open. 
  • Hotel restaurants can remain open – but to provide food for residents only  
  • Don’t go into other people’s homes unless they are part of your extended household. If it is essential that you visit households other than your own as part of your role, risk assessments will be reviewed to ensure that adequate controls are in place. If there is any change to working practices you will be contacted by your line manager. 

Further staff guidance on the local Aberdeen restrictions is available at Coronavirus restrictions in Aberdeen; this includes advice on shielding, test and protect and travel. 

As we continue to live with the virus, it is important that we follow the guidance laid out in the Scottish Government FACTS campaign: 

  • F – Face coverings in enclosed spaces – shops, public transport or anywhere else inside that physical distancing might be more difficult. 

  • A – Avoid all crowded places. Indoors, obviously, but outdoors as well.  

  • C – Clean your hands and hard surfaces regularly. 

  • T – Two metre distancing remains the overall advice.  

  • and S – Self isolate, and book a test, if you have any of the symptoms of COVID. 

You can find details of the test and protect and what to do if you are contacted by the contact trace team here

Understandably you may be feeling anxious at this time. If this is the case, please remember you can talk to your manager or access the resources on our wellbeing advice page at any time.  

All Coronavirus guidance can be found on People Anytime. This is updated on a regular basis in line with any Government updates so please ensure you check the site on a regular basis. Wider Aberdeen City updates are also available on the external ACC website.  

Stay safe 

Dear Colleagues

The spirit of the city was tested last week as it reacted to the tragic train derailment, the impact of intense flooding and the ongoing reality of a COVID-19 spike. Where we grow up influences our sense of self and is instrumental in fostering our sense of belonging, purpose and meaning. I am thoughtful therefore about the dispiriting backdrop to children’s childhood created by these events.  The lockdown will have had a negative impact on some children and this may be very visible to our colleagues as the children return to school, some of it less visible perhaps. And so, there is as much hard work in front of us, as there is behind us, as we all work together to try and give the children a bright future.

The existing temporary public health measures re-introduced to the city are due to be reviewed on Wednesday this week. The purpose of the measures was to slow the transmission of COVID-19 in the city, following the spike in numbers. To be able to lift the localised restrictions, there will need to be a sustained reduction in the number of people infected by virus carriers.

On Thursday of this week, the First Minister will also make a formal announcement on whether Scotland can now move to Phase 4 of the Scottish Government route map through coronavirus. We will consider the decisions arising from Wednesday and Thursday and any advice that is issued and any changes to working arrangements will be communicated to you.

Ultimately the development and delivery of a safe and effective vaccine will enable the full transition from the current public health measures. Until that is achieved, the risk of a resurgence of the disease will continue, as we have witnessed in Aberdeen, and it will need to be sustainably controlled through the application of intermittent public health measures.

As we all worked our way together through the experience of these localised measures  and learnt to adapt, we’ll need to prepare for further cycles of the lifting and re-imposing of restrictions in the future – I’m confident we’ll be able to do that.

Someone once said, “hope is a feeling that life and work have meaning regardless of the state of the world around you”. Let us remain hopeful of the development of clinically validated treatments and tools to add to the arsenal in the global fight against COVID-19. While we face a future filled with some uncertainty, it remains filled with possibilities to serve the world in new and more impactful ways.

What we focused on last week

Colleagues in environmental health, led by Andrew Morrison, participated in the Aberdeen Cluster (COVID) Incident Management Team (IMT).  This multi-agency IMT was led by NHS Grampian and Andrew supported the decision making regarding the continuation of the localised measures for a further seven days.

Given the lessons learnt locally because of the COVID-19 outbreak in Aberdeen, we have been working with public health colleagues on an outbreak control plan and it is planned to publish this soon. This will guide our approach to future outbreaks.

Coordinating our response to the impact of the intense flooding on schools and roads across the city, which resulted in 17 school closures and 12 roads closed. I would like to express my thanks to Doug Ritchie and his team for the Roads team’s response and Andrew Jones, Malcolm Brown and Andy Campbell for the schools’ response. Whilst flooding is a regular weather pattern now, it is fair to say that the intensity of last week’s flooding was exceptional and as a result, the response effort from our colleagues is even more impressive.

Despite all the above, colleagues continued to support the return of children to school as part of an orientation programme to help the children adapt to their new environment. I would like to thank Caroline Johnstone, Gael Ross, Shona Milne, Alex Duncan and Fiona Lawrie and their teams along with all school-based staff for the huge effort that has gone into enabling us to support children return to school. Good luck for the return of all children today.

Fraser Bell, Martin Murchie and Eleanor Sheppard have been working with public health colleagues to ensure we are all linked up appropriately to undertake surveillance for potential COVID outbreaks in schools in the future.

Our non-COVID Duty Emergency Response Co-ordinator (DERC), Craig Innes, supported by Vikki Cuthbert, participated in the Grampian Local Resilience Partnership, which was quickly convened to co-ordinate the multi-agency response to the train derailment. A harrowing incident all, but the response effort of our colleagues in Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue, NHS Grampian, Scottish Ambulance Service and Aberdeenshire Council was excellent and of course, they worked closely with colleagues at Network Rail.

To summarise last week, we focused on

  • Supporting NHS Grampian’s Incident Management Team and the implementation of the local restrictions to manage the spike in COVID-19 cases in Aberdeen.
  • Activating an ACC short life incident management team for managing our response to the impact of the intense flooding on schools and roads across the city.
  • Supporting children to return to school.
  • Participating in the Local Resilience Partnership, in response to the tragic derailment of the Aberdeen train.

Our focus for this week:

  • Continue to participate in the Incident Management Team, chaired by NHS Grampian, in readiness for the further review of the re-introduced measures on Wednesday 19th
  • Support the implementation of the decisions from the review on the 19th August, both in terms of our enforcement responsibilities as a council as well as reviewing our own plans for the reinstatement of services.
  • Subject to the decisions on the 19th August, the COVID DERC (Martin Murchie) will consider the implications, if any, of the First Minister’s statutory review of Phase 3 of the Route map out of COVID-19 and whether Scotland is moving to Phase 4.
  • To support the full return of all pupils on a full-time basis to school.
  • To enable the re-opening of the remaining 4 schools, that were closed because of last week’s flooding.

COVID-19 has brought into focus the interconnectedness of our health and well-being and events of the last week are reminders that many of our colleagues are daily involved in supporting life, supporting the end of life and celebrating that person’s life.  Important we give thanks to all those colleagues and heed the words of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, “None of us is safe, until all of us are safe”

Stay safe, Angela

Sent on behalf of:

Isla Newcombe, Chief Officer – People & Organisation

Jacqui McKenzie, Chief Officer – Customer Experience

Dear Colleagues

An update to Scottish Government guidance issued at the end of last week widened the list of locations where a face covering must be worn by customers. This now includes: 

  • any premises open to members of the public and used for the retail sale or hire of goods or services, such as shops, takeaway restaurants, estate agents, beauty parlours (excluding include hospitality premises)
  • aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms
  • other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites
  • community centres
  • crematoriums and funeral directors premises
  • libraries and public reading rooms
  • museums and galleries
  • storage and distribution facilities, including collection and drop off points

In order to respond to this new requirement customers of ACC entering our buildings will be asked to wear face coverings where appropriate and signage will be installed in any council buildings where face coverings should be worn.

Face coverings will now also be used by staff in the Customer Service Centre, as well as our other buildings listed above.

  • Members of staff working within these premises listed above are required to wear a face covering where they cannot guarantee a 2 metre distance between themselves and members of the public.
  • However, where a control is in place and staff are either able to guarantee 2 metre distance or a perspex screen separates staff and members of the public, there is no requirement for staff to wear face coverings. 

Service managers of those areas impacted are being contacted by the Health and Safety Team and are putting necessary arrangements in place. Service managers will be reviewing any impact the use of face coverings have on their risk assessments, amending them if necessary and contacting any impacted staff directly.

Where this has an impact on our staff in customer facing settings ACC will provide face coverings for use.

There is no requirement for staff to wear face coverings in back-office areas of our buildings or in buildings where there is no access to members of the public, although any member of staff is welcome to wear their own face covering in any setting that they choose to and a 2 metre distance must be maintained between members of staff as well as adherence to any other controls identified through the risk assessment for that setting. Face coverings worn by staff should be cloth non-medical coverings either provided by the individual or by ACC.

Spare face coverings will also be made available for members of the public that have forgotten or are visiting unprepared.

It is important to remember that while customers are required to wear face coverings in these locations ACC staff will not be expected to enforce this rule. 

Further detail can be found at face covering guidance and wider Coronavirus guidance can be found on our Coronavirus FAQs on People Anytime.  These are updated in line with Scottish Government guidelines so please check the site on a regular basis. 

If you have any queries about the use of face coverings please contact the Health and Safety Team by email on email HSW@aberdeencity.gov.uk.

In the meantime, stay safe

Isla and Jacqui

Sent on behalf of Fraser Bell, Chief Officer – Governance (Acting as Duty Emergency Response Co-ordinator)

Dear Colleagues  

It has been confirmed by the Scottish Government today that the local restrictions in the Aberdeen area will remain in place for at least another seven days.  

These restrictions will therefore be reviewed again on August 19 and we will provide an additional update at that time. 

You can read the full guidance at Local Advice and Measures  on the Scottish Government website.   

No changes have been made to the restrictions in place and they remain as follows: 

  • Residents of the city should not travel more than five miles for leisure or recreational purposes. You can travel for work or education. 
  • If you live out with Aberdeen, you should only travel in to attend work or to attend an educational establishment. 
  • Indoor and outdoor hospitality will close remain closed.  Take away facilities can remain open. 
  • Hotel restaurants can remain open – but to provide food for residents only  
  • Don’t go into other peoples’ homes unless they are part of your extended household. If it is essential that you visit households other than your own as part of your role, risk assessments will be reviewed to ensure that adequate controls are in place. If there is any change to working practices you will be contacted by your line manager. 

Further staff guidance on the local Aberdeen restrictions are available at Coronavirus restrictions in Aberdeen this includes advice on shielding, test and protect and travel. 

It is important as we continue to live with the virus that we follow the guidance laid out in the Scottish Government FACTS campaign: 

  • F – Face coverings in enclosed spaces – shops, public transport or anywhere else inside that physical distancing might be more difficult. 
  • A – Avoid crowded places. Indoors, obviously, but outdoors as well. Avoid all crowded places. 
  • C – Clean your hands and hard surfaces regularly. 
  • T – Two metre distancing remains the overall advice.  
  • and S – Self isolate, and book a test, if you have any of the symptoms of COVID. 

You can find details of the test and protect and what to do if you are contacted by the contact trace team here. 

 

Understandably you may be feeling anxious at this time. If this is the case please remember you can talk to your manager and view our wellbeing advice on People Anytime.  

 

All Coronavirus guidance can be found on People Anytime. This is updated on a regular basis in line with any Government updates so please ensure you check the site on a regular basis. Wider Aberdeen City updates are also available on the external ACC website 

Stay safe  

Fraser

Last week saw the specific focus of the pandemic centre on Aberdeen as a number of public health measures were re-introduced across the city, in response to a spike in the number of local positive cases. The re-introduction of public health measures is a timely reminder that the fight against this virus is not over.  

As you know, we have played our part in the fight against the virus and I know, like me, you will have been  disappointed by the re-introduction of local restrictions. The decision of the First Minister not to move to Phase 4 of the Scottish Government’s Route Map following the statutory review on the 30th July, was a signal of caution to everyone across Scotland about the ongoing danger which Covid-19 represents to us. The restriction of the movement of citizens, and the closure of the hospitality sector in Aberdeen, are additional painful reminders of the risk this virus represents to us all. These restrictions demonstrate the pace and scale of measures required to keep fighting this virus – and protect the public’s health – during any resurgence.  

I fully appreciate the anxiety caused by this recent spike in the city for everyone. Much remains unknown about this virus and at this stage of the pandemic, scientific proof of causation about what controls the virus spread in major cities has not been established. It is therefore essential that, both at work and home, we all continue to adhere to the measures put in place. 

The temporary statutory regulations, which were introduced last week, are due to be reviewed on 12th August and there are several possible outcomes from that review. The reintroduced measures could be relaxed, they could be extended, or further measures could be introduced – the outcome will in part be determined by whether there is a sustained downward trend in the number of cases.  

At some point, the local restrictions will be rolled back in our city, and we need to continue to respond with care. Everyone will have  their  individual and organisational part to play in ensuring that the pandemic remains under control.  

And it is important that I stress that there is a likelihood of further recurrences in the future, until there is further scientific understanding of this virus and, of course, until we have a vaccine.  

What we focused on last wee

Colleagues in environmental health participated in NHS Grampian’s Incident Management Team and supported the reintroduction of measures. 

Colleagues in Customer Experience reacted to a large volume of queries from the public in response to the announcement.  

Colleagues in Environmental Health and Trading Standards reacted to a large volume of queries from the public and businesses in response to the announcement and surveyed the city to ensure compliance.  

Colleagues in our External Communications and Marketing team responded to the massive local, national and even international, media interest in Aberdeen and the social media interest this generated. 

Our own Incident Management Team reviewed all our recent decisions to reinstate services and reviewed these decisions against the revised guidance issued by the Scottish Government. Our trade union colleagues are supporting the re-examination of relevant risk assessments. 

Our Duty Emergency Response Co-ordinator (DERC), Fraser Bell, and People & Organisational Development cluster moved swiftly to ensure communication to all staff to advise of the situation and what to do. 

To summarise last week, we focused on: 

  • Supporting NHS Grampian’s Incident Management Team and the implementation of the local restrictions; and 

  • Revisiting our own decisions regarding the reinstatement of services and the associated risk assessments. 

Our focus for this week: 

  • Continuing to participate in the NHS Grampian Incident Management Team in readiness for the formal review of the re-introduced measures on  12th August; and  

  • Overseeing the implementation of new government guidance due to come into effect on 14th August regarding indoor hospitality and the collection of customer contact details; and  

  • Supporting the implementation of the decisions from the Scottish Government’s review on the 12th August, both in terms of our enforcement responsibilities as a council as well as reviewing our own plans for the reinstatement of services. 

I’d like to put on record my personal thanks to Andrew Morrison and his Protective Services Team – Environmental Health and Trading Standards  colleagues, for all the work that they have been doing, not only over this last week but throughout the duration of the lockdown. I fully appreciate the immense pressure you have been under and I’d like to commend you for the professional way you have gone about your business.  

Our ’new normal’ following the easing of these local restrictions will be characterised by continued public health measures.  It’s important that we view these as life saving measures against a virus we can’t see. Let us continue to look after ourselves, our families and each other.   

You can find information on the lockdown restrictions in Aberdeen on the intranet  or you can also find guidance, including staff FAQs on People Anytime: local restrictions.   

Stay safe, Angela 

Following today’s announcement from the Scottish Government we can confirm that some Covid-19 restrictions have been put in place in Aberdeen City.   Should these restrictions change at anytime we will let you know. Should further guidance become available from Scottish Government which alters these restrictions, we will let you know.

As you may know a number of new cases have been linked to the recent outbreak in the city. This has meant it was necessary for the Scottish Government to put in place some restrictions.  From today these include the following:

  • Residents of the city should not travel more than five miles for leisure or recreational purposes.
  • If you live out with Aberdeen you should only travel in to attend work or to attend an educational establishment.
  • Indoor and outdoor hospitality will close from 5pm today (5 August). Take away facilities can remain open.
  • Hotel restaurants can remain open – but to provide food for residents only
  • Don’t go into other peoples’ homes unless they are part of your extended household. If it is essential that you visit households other than your own as part of your role, risk assessments will be reviewed to ensure that adequate controls are in place. If there is any change to working practices you will be contacted by your line manager.

Further guidance on the local Aberdeen restrictions are available at Coronavirus restrictions in Aberdeen.

For those who have recently come out of Shielding, you are not being advised to start shielding again. It is however important to consider the number of people you are in contact with, and be particularly vigilant about following public health guidance on physical distancing and hygiene measures. If you have been in contact with anyone who tests positive, you will have already been contacted through the test and protect service and should therefore be isolating. Some further information can be found in these FAQs.

Annual leave – Please read our annual leave guidance –  this has not changed, however if you have concerns around booked annual leave, these should be discussed with your line manager.

Current Working Arrangements – no changes will be made to your current working arrangements unless you hear otherwise from your line manager.  

Test and Protect

To help control the virus it is vital that we are all aware of procedures which have been put in place should you develop symptoms or require a test.  You can read our full guidance on what to do if you have symptoms here but please be aware of the following:

  • If you develop any of the COVID-19 symptoms, please request a test on the Test and Protect page. Testing is currently at full capacity so you should only be requesting a test if you are symptomatic.

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:

    • high temperature or fever
    • a new continuous cough
    • loss or changed sense of smell or taste (Anosmia)
  • If you test positive you must self-isolate for 10 days and anyone in your household must self-isolate for 14 days.  If they develop any of the above symptoms, they must request a test immediately. This can also be done through our Test and Protect page.
  • If you are contacted by the NHS Contact Tracing Team to say you may have been in contact with someone with the virus, you must self-isolate for 14 days. The Contact Tracing Team will advise you what to do next.  If a test is required, this can be done through our Test and Protect page. Please ensure you follow any advice given by the Contact Tracers. You can read more about how contact tracing works on the NHS Scotland website.
  • If you test positive you must self-isolate for 10 days and anyone in your household must self-isolate for 14 days.  If they develop any of the above symptoms, they must request a test immediately. This can also be done through our Test and Protect page.

If your result is negative no further action is required   However, you must still self-isolate for 10 days from the date you developed symptoms. 

Staying Safe

It is important as this continues that we follow the guidance laid out in the Scottish Government FACTS campaign:

  • F – Face coverings in enclosed spaces – shops, public transport or anywhere else inside that physical distancing might be more difficult.
  • A – Avoid crowded places. Indoors, obviously, but outdoors as well. Avoid all crowded places.
  • C – Clean your hands and hard surfaces regularly.
  • T – Two metre distancing remains the overall advice.
  • and S – Self isolate, and book a test, if you have any of the symptoms of COVID.

While you are out and about it is important that we stay safe.  Follow the physical distancing procedures which have been put in place, wear a mask or face covering?? and if you are asked for your contact details please give them.  These details are vital to ensure the contact team can trace you should an outbreak occur.

For further advice and guidance, you can read the Coronavirus FAQs. These are updated on a regular basis and in line with the latest guidance from the Scottish Government.  You can also find advice on wellbeing here.

If you require any further guidance please get in touch with the Employee Relations team on   employeerelations@aberdeencity.gov.uk

In the meantime, stay safe.

Following today’s announcement from the Scottish Government Phase 3 has been extended.  Reviews will continue to be held on a 3-weekly basis with the next review date on the 20 August.  

The First Minister also confirmed today that schools across Scotland will return from 11 August with all pupils expected to be back in full time education by 18 August. In Aberdeen, staff will be reviewing arrangements on site on 10/11 August with pupil orientation days on 12-14 August. It is anticipated that schools will return fully on Monday 17 August. You can read more about the arrangements for Aberdeen Schools in our press release.  

From 1st August Shielding across Scotland will pause and anyone who is shielding may be able to return to work.  However, where you have been shielding no changes will be made to your current arrangements until you have had a discussion with your manager, a risk assessment has been completed and any agreed safety measures are put in place.   

It has also been announced that from 1 August the self-isolation period for those who test positive for Covid-19 symptoms has been extended to 10 days. If you show any symptoms, please remember to request a test.  

Non-essential offices will remain closed for the moment and working from home remains the default position where possible.   Advice and guidance on homeworking can be found on People Anytime.  

Any additional details of changes to individual services will be published on the council website on a regular basis.    

Every three weeks the government will review how the virus is being controlled and decide to what extent it can move from one phase to another. Not everything currently listed in a single phase will necessarily happen at the same time. The next review date for this is on the 20 August and we will provide another full update in line with that. 

Last week we moved to Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Route Map for getting through the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking ahead, we have potentially got just one more phase to work through and we will know more about this on the 30th July, following the next statutory review by the Scottish Government. I do not underestimate the volume of work each of these phases has involved and, of course, the return of schools in August will require another herculean effort from us. 

I hope everyone is remembering to take some time off. I know many of your overseas holiday plans will have been cancelled and that you’re having to settle instead, for a midge-infested holiday on a Scottish campsite perhaps! But the temporary sacrifices we are all making ensure our collective well-being. And, who knows, perhaps we might grow to love our midges!?

I am signing off now as I go on two weeks’ annual leave and am certainly looking forward to getting some time to recover from the intensity of the last few months.  So whichever way you are spending your time off, please enjoy a well-deserved rest. Now that “bosies” are officially allowed for grannies and granddads – please make up for lost time!  And to those of you who have been coping with children at home for three months: enjoy the relaxation of rules for kids – you deserve it!

As ever, thanks for all you’re doing – it is much appreciated. And please ensure you continue to take care of yourselves and your families and enjoy a well-earned break, even if it is with the midges!

Stay Safe

Angela 

Sent on behalf of:

Fraser Bell (Chief Officer – Governance, Acting as Duty Emergency Response Co-ordinator)

Isla Newcombe (Chief Officer – People and Organisational Development)

Stephen Booth (Chief Officer – Corporate Landlord)

Read in Browser

This afternoon the First Minister announced that we have moved into Phase 3 and has issued an update to the Coronavirus Route Map.

You can read our press release and view the associated updates on our external webpage here.

 

Whilst phase 3 is a huge milestone on our road to recovery, it is important to also bear in mind that this is an ever-changing situation and local lockdowns – such as those in the Borders – can happen at any time. We cannot become complacent and, as an organisation and as individuals, we must continue to follow government advice on  physical distancing, washing our hands and wearing masks.

From this weekend that advice makes it compulsory to wear masks in any shops (as well as it being already compulsory on public transport).

It is similarly important to remember that, while there have been changes to the physical distancing guidance in some circumstances, the default remains 2 metres. The Scottish Government have made exceptions to the 2m rule for a limited number of sectors and settings which include: public transport, outdoor hospitality, indoor hospitality and retail (including personal retail services) and only when appropriate safety measures have been put in place.  Within Aberdeen City Council, our default physical distancing measures will remain as 2m. These distancing measures will be kept under review in line with further changes to government advice.

As we make our way through the phases of the route map and begin to bring more services back on stream, it is important to remember that not all these changes will take place at once and any impact this has on your individual service will be worked through with your Chief Officer and the Reinstatement Working Group (led by Stephen Booth) before any changes are made. You can read more about the reinstatement process here

You may also be aware that non-essential offices are part of phase 3, although not expected to be implemented before 31st July – we would expect further guidance on this soon. In the meantime, Chief Officers are giving consideration to how this can operate for their individual clusters and will be in touch with you should any changes be implemented.

Any changes to the service in which you work will be made in line with government advice and only when the correct reinstatement process has been followed. 

Additional details of changes to individual services will be published on the council website  on a regular basis.  

Every three weeks the government will review how the virus is being controlled and decide to what extent it can move from one phase to another. Not everything currently listed in a single phase will necessarily happen at the same time. The review date for phase 4 is on the 30 July and we will provide another full update in line with that.

Stay Safe

Fraser, Isla and Stephen

Dear Colleagues 

As we begin to move though the Phases of the Scottish Government route map, and as begin to reinstate some of our services, it is important to emphasise that for a large number of us working from home should still be considered the default position.   

At this stage it is also difficult to determine how long these ‘work from home’ arrangements will be necessary so with this in mind we want to ensure you work from home safely with no increased risk of injury.  

To help you achieve this we have published working from home which includes:  

  • How to set up your workstation 
  • If you normally use specialist ergonomic equipment 
  • Working at dining table 
  • Working from a sofa 
  • Interrupt sitting 
  • Your working Environment 

Thelp us assess the needs of our ‘work from home’ workforce we are also asking everyone to complete this short the Homeworking Questionnaire by Friday 17th July.  This will help us monitor what additional support may be required across the organisation.  

Returned questionnaires will be reviewed week commencing 20th July and shared with your named line manager at that time. 

The web pages also include additional advice on getting the most out of working from home including:   

  • Mental health and wellbeing 
  • Top tips  
  • Getting the most out of remote meetings 
  • Using Microsoft Teams 
  • Using your own device  
  • Protecting your data  
  • Online learning resources.  

Should additional support be required please contact HSW@aberdeencity.gov.uk   

Kind Regards 

Vikki Cuthbert , Assurance Manager  

Dear Colleagues

When the world was plunged into a global pandemic, it was hard for us to see a way out of it at times. Though the road ahead remains difficult, we are gradually shifting from a sense of “whether we can return” to “how we will return.” We will continue to confront cycles of disruption and adaptation, driven both by potential further outbreaks of the virus and our organisational recovery from the pandemic. Last week’s Urgent Business Committee – which you can read about in my previous post  – discussed some of those recovery measures for ACC. 

Thursday this week (9 July) is the next route map review date and we expect the First Minister to announce we are moving into Phase 3 of recovery.  This is also a crucial step on our own road to recovery as an organisation.  It is important to emphasise that any changes will not happen immediately and will be implemented in a way that ensures the safety of all concerned. I discuss this process further below.  

As we move through the different phases of the route map it is key that we seek opportunities within this to reconnect our social ties as a workforce and how we can best do this in the new landscape. 

I recognise that – as individuals – we will all be feeling quite differently about the concept of a return to the workplace, with varying levels of enthusiasm and/or concern.    

Many of our teaching colleagues will want to return to school because they miss their colleagues and students whilst on the other hand they will be thinking about their own health and that of their families if reopened schools were to become new vectors of transmission. 

I also recognise that, like many in the city, your loved ones may be facing long-term job insecurity because of economic impact of the virus.  And, I acknowledge that for those of you with children, you will be feeling uncertain about when and how your children will return to school. 

So, in recognising all of the above, it is important that we all continue to be sensitive to the impact the virus has had – and continues to have – on us in terms of our home and work lives. That we all respect everyone’s different anxieties and practical issues associated with returning to work and that, as a team, we provide each other with support – emotional and/or practical.  

While conversations about the emotional toll of the pandemic may at times seem uncomfortable,  many colleagues will value them. Alongside these more emotional conversations, those which recognise the contribution of everyone during the pandemic are also equally important. So, let’s reflect and ensure we are having both types of discussion.  

I’ve also been so cheered by hearing about some of the ways that teams across the Council have stayed connected socially and in a fun way during this time.  This has included creative ideas like Commercial and Procurement Services meeting for a virtual “pizza lunch”, the janitorial team having fancy dress Fridays for their Teams meeting, Creative Learning and their “creative hang outs” and People and Organisation getting together on Teams for a weekly quiz on a Friday after work.  These get-togethers can be so helpful in giving us all a boost.  

Return planning 

Last week I spoke about the decision made at Urgent Business Committee on the 30th June to return the council’s governance arrangements and reinstate the committee cycle. Alongside this will be the disestablishment of our COVID emergency response team – you can read about this in my previous post. 

Following the Urgent Business Committee, I also discussed the plans to return us to financial balance. You can read more about this on the link above and for more of the detail, please watch Jonathan’s second video message. 

Whilst governance and finance are vital elements of our return to ‘normal’ I thought it might also be helpful if I summarised some of the other return planning that is underway across the council. 

The return of the city schools 

The Deputy First Minister announced on the 23 June 2020 that preparations should now be made to enable school children to return to school full time from 11 August 2020. Previous planning assumptions had been that children would return to school on a blended model – part time at school and part time at home. The plans we made for this blended model are now our contingency plans and significant work is underway (led by Eleanor Shephard, Chief Education Officer, Stephen Booth, Corporate Landlord and all our head teachers) to be ready for the full time return to school for children.  

If we are advised that we can progress with a 100% return, and the updated Physical Distancing Guidance can easily be put in place, we will open for groups of pupils from Wednesday the 12 August. This will allow staff two days to review plans in light of the updated Physical Distancing Guidance on Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 August.  

This review is necessary to ensure the safe return of children and young people to our school buildings from Wednesday 12 August. Children will attend school in smaller groups for the first week as this will enable us to ensure that all children and young people are familiar with new processes put in place to keep them safe. All children and young people will attend 5 days a week from Monday 17 August. 

Reinstatement of services in line with the route map and your safety 

All changes proposed to services originally stood down due to the COVID-19 response are being considered by the Service Reinstatement Working Group, chaired by Stephen Booth. The working group ensures that proposals are in line with the Scottish Government’s route map and guidance; that appropriate arrangements are in place to ensure the safety of staff and customers; and that robust planning has been done to manage workforce, supply and asset challenges. 

Housing repairs; roadworks; waste & recycling; ground maintenance; and registrars are amongst the services approved so far for a level of of reinstatement (with appropriate safeguards). 

You can find details of our reinstatement process and those services which have been reinstated, or are in the process of reinstatement, on People Anytime. 

The safety of our staff and citizens has been the number 1 priority as we have continued to deliver services during lockdown and continues to be our number 1 priority as we start to reinstate more of our services.  

The reinstatement pages also contain a series of videos on how to keep yourself safe and how we will work to keep you safe.  Alongside these instructional videos you will also find videos of some our Chief Officers and Trade Union colleagues.   

We will continue to add to this video library as we move through the remaining phases of the roadmap and, as we begin to bring more services back on stream, we will include short videos to show you how different services are introducing their safety measure. There will be one appearing soon from the Customer Contact Centre and Registrar teams. I encourage you all to watch them. 

Managing our risk  

Throughout this period managers have been conducting COVID-19 specific risk assessments with support from Health and Safety colleagues and input from Trade Unions. As services look to reinstate, a key part of this process is the risk assessment element.  Again, full details can be found on here.  

PPE requirements have been captured and reviewed on a weekly basis – ensuring that procurement and health and safety colleagues have been able to support with any arising concerns at the earliest opportunity. 

Testing for critical workers has been available and promoted to those with symptoms or in a self-isolating household and will continue to be offered through the Test and Protect programme.

I must reiterate that even as we begin to reinstate services it is important that you continue to work from home if you are able to do so.  This is in line with Scottish Government guidance. However, for those services who go through the reinstatement process and begin to return to offices such as Marischal, some new measures you’ll see include:  

  • Enhanced cleaning & cleaning materials 
  • One-way systems & signage 
  • Removal of hotdesking 
  • Physical distancing measures  

Our Return: thinking about how we want to work and the next normal  

Not everyone will re-enter the organisation physically at the same time or pace, so it’s useful for us to think about the next normal. Of course, changes to current ways of working will be staggered and things can run differently than planned as we continue to adapt our approach. We should think about the routines and social contacts that we might currently be missing and how and when we might be able to reconnect or create new routines that give us a similar benefit.  Resurrecting some of those past routines and rituals which give us a sense of familiarity and reassurance which can help our sense of wellbeing immensely. The annual summer shopping spree for school uniforms to support the school fashion parade in our house, is a ritual I’ve historically dreaded but am looking forward to this year!  

So, whilst any changes to current ways of working must be in line with the reinstatement process above, my suggestion is that we start to look toward   the next normal, whatever that may be. The routine of school life is something we have all experienced and some of us continue to experience it through our children or grandchildren. So, let us start resurrecting some of our old normal routines and rituals whilst retaining some of the new ones we’ve created during COVID-19. These will help in reducing the stress we’ve all probably felt during this period – I know I have.  

Looking to future and embracing our new sense of purpose 

Before COVID-19 our core purpose as an organisation was to ensure the city and it citizens prosper.  Post COVID-19 this purpose hasn’t changed.  The citizens of Aberdeen have been at the heart of our response to COVID-19 and it will continue to be so as we begin to recover. By connecting the work, you are doing to the short and long-term recovery of the city, I think we can find meaning in what we’re doing and perhaps that meaning will helps us to move on in our move forward from the pandemic. 

In the meantime, if you have any questions about reinstatement please contact your line manager in the first instance. 

Stay Safe 

Angela

Sent on behalf of Isla Newcombe, Chief Office -People and Organisation

Reminder: All coronavirus staff and manager advice and guidance can be found on our dedicated pages on PeopleAnytime or linked from the front page of the intranet.

Dear colleagues

Since lockdown began in March, and as we started to move through the different phases of the Scottish Government Route Map, People Anytime has featured a number of Covid-19 webpages so that we can all keep up-to-date on the latest ACC guidance and advice.

These pages are updated on a regular basis, as well as in line with each release of new guidance from the Scottish Government or COSLA.

You can also find copies of all staff and managers emails and communications on Coronavirus blogs and communications.

These Covid-19 pages are available to all staff  on People Anytime from any device and you don’t need to be logged in to view.

They include links to the relevant NHS and Scottish government guidance and cover advice for managers and staff on:

Alongside this, there are a number of additional All staff FAQs which include detail on  annual leave, flexible working and pay.

The pages also include a number of Managers FAQs and guidance for managers on PPE and risk assessments at  Staying Safe While Working.

From next week, on the reinstatement pages you will also find a suite of videos from Union colleagues and Chief Officers.  Included here will be an instructional video on How to Keep Safe and advice on Test and Protect. We will continue to add more videos so please keep checking back. 

During this time, it is also key to remind ourselves about the importance of taking time off- to help maintain resilience and improve mental wellbeing and work-life balance.  There has been information shared with the organisation to encourage and remind staff to do this, with managers being asked to proactively encourage staff to take their annual leave breaks. Further information on annual leave can be found on our pages here.

If you have any questions, or can’t find what you’re looking for on these pages please contact employee relations at employeerelations@aberdeencity.gov.uk.

Stay safe

Isla

As I’ve talked to you about previously on Tuesday  30th June the Council’s Urgent Business Committee (UBC) met to review a number of papers which were published last week. You can see the full agenda here. There some particular areas that I’d like to highlight as they relate to our current Covid-19 response as well as our financial context.  These included: 

I hope you managed to find the time to read these papers before the meeting but if not, they are still available for you to view on the above links. 

The recommendations in the papers were agreed, along with a number of amendments from the administration. The full decision sheet is available to read here

Following May’s UBC, Jonathan was asked to report back with proposals to ensure the council maintained a balanced budget for 2020/21.  COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the financial position of the council and whilst the impact is not currently at the level we feared in May, it is still substantial. And, if there is a second wave of the virus, it could change.   

This further report was considered as part of yesterday’s meeting. 

Jonathan had previously issued a short video message where he explained the report and the proposals contained within it. The proposals were approved by the committee along with a number of additional amendments brought forward by the Administration.  In his new video message Jonathan explains more about the decisions made at UBC and the next steps for ACC. 

At the meeting the council also approved a plan from Richard Sweetnam to support the ongoing social and economic recovery of the city and its citizens.  As a local authority our purpose is to ensure the city and citizens of Aberdeen prosper and it is important that we recognise the significant impact recent events have had on the city.    

The plan is supported by many chief officers across the council, representing the multi layers to the plan and we will report progress to council throughout the year. Our partners will play a critical role too in this plan and we hope to get the full support  from the Community Planning Partnership later this week, not least because  the short term needs addressed in the plan, mirror the long term needs addressed throughout the  Local Outcome Improvement Plan (LOIP). The alignment of these helps to clarify and drive the actions we need to take.You can hear more about the plan and the impact COVID-19 has had on the city in a recent webinar by Richard and his team. 

A paper was also presented and approved on the emergency work being undertaken to provide space for people to Physical Distance. This work, which is supported by NHS Grampian’s Director of Public Health, will see almost £1.76million pounds worth of temporary measures introduced across the city. This funding was provided through SUSTRANS as part of a fund set up by the Scottish Government to support Local Authorities in providing space to Physically Distance. These works will see the temporary reassignment of road space and footpath widening for use by pedestrians as they move about the city and as they queue at shops and bus stops. It will also support active travel to help people to get about the city where they are nervous or uncomfortable about using public transport. The paper set out the work done to date and what is expected over the next few weeks and months as well as the financial situation and its tie in with the Socio-Economic Rescue Plan.  

In addition, the council decided to reinstate all committee meetings from late August. Fraser Bell, Chief Officer (Governance) will now work with colleagues to get these arrangements in place. The committee noted the plans of our 3 DERCs (Gale Beattie, Martin Murchie and Fraser Bell) to  start the process of dis-establishing the council’s COVID-19 emergency response structures as our normal council decision making structures are reintroduced.    

 We now have only 8 months in which to deliver our plans to secure a balanced  budget by the end of the year and  I am confident we can make this happen. It is also important to recognise that the economic recovery of the city will take much longer. The plans that were agreed yesterday are just the first step on our road back to a ‘new normal’ – whatever that may turn out to be. – and as we as we begin to implement these plans I want to reiterate my thanks to you all for the commitment you have shown to the city and each other during this time.  

Stay Safe  

Angela  

Sent on behalf of:

Martin Murchie (Chief Officer – Date and Insights, Acting as Duty Emergency Response Co-ordinator)

Isla Newcombe (Chief Officer – People and Organisational Development)

Stephen Booth (Chief Officer – Corporate Landlord)

Dear Colleagues

Following on from last week’s announcement that we are now in phase 2 of the Scottish Government road map,  today, the First Minister provided some further clarity on how and when changes within phases 2 and 3 will be implemented. Full details of which can be found here .

There will be no immediate change to any of our services or in the way in which we are currently working unless you are otherwise informed by your Chief Officer. If you are able to work from home please continue to do so. 

As we move through the phases, Chief Officers continue to work with the Service Reinstatement Working Group to ensure that services are reinstated in a planned way according to the Scottish Government Route map and Guidelines and are not reintroduced until we can ensure the safety of our staff and customers.  You can read more about the reinstatement process on people anytime

Additional details of changes to individual services will be published on the council website on a regular basis as FAQs.    

Stay Safe

Isla

Dear Colleagues

The Covid-19 pandemic has been characterised by much ambiguity and uncertainty.    I’ve talked previously about the fact that I try to cope with both the ambiguity and uncertainty of the Covid-19 situation by visualising 3 big boards in front of me every day. And these boards are covered with post-its and these post-its are repositioned as things change.  

I’m sure you are all your finding your own ways to navigate these waves of uncertainty and ambiguity, but I wanted to share this with you in case you find it of use. 

The 3 boards say: 

  1. What we know 
  2. What we don’t know 
  3. When we will know.  

As at today, what do we know? 

  • We continue to see promising signs that the virus has been slowed, although it has not been eradicated. 
  • We know the numbers of Covid-19 related deaths have dropped significantly.  
  • We know we have come through Phase 1 of the Scottish Government Route Map through the pandemic. This has involved the safe reinstatement of some services, and the introduction of some physical distancing measures across the city. 
  • As a result of the statutory review date on the 18th June, we have now moved to Phase 2 and we know the next set of council services which are being reinstated.  
  • We know which further physical distancing measures we’re planning to introduce across the city and we know how our regulatory functions will support businesses who have been permitted to open at Phase 2. 
  • We know the statutory review date for Phase 3 is 9th July and the date for Phase 4 is 30th July. 
  • We know the further extension of those “at risk” to be shielded until the 31st July. 
  • We know how we plan to achieve the financial recovery of the council, with our revised budget proposals. Papers will be publicly available prior to the meeting of the Urgent Business Committee on the 30th June on the council website.  
  • We know how we plan to transition back into the normal governance arrangements of council from August, as set out in our report for the UBC on the 30th June.  Our DERC’s are working out, in parallel , how we will step down our emergency management structures that we’ve had in place throughout the pandemic. 
  • We know how we plan to support the short-term social and economic recovery of the city, through a series of action plans focused on economy, place and people.  

What we do not know 

  • The outcome of the remaining statutory reviews for the move to Phase 3 and 4. 
  • The decisions made by the councils Urgent Business Committee on 30th June.  

When we will know 

  • We will know the outcome of the statutory reviews on the 9th July and 30th July.  
  • We will know the outcome of the Urgent Business Committee following its meeting on the 30th June and I will provide an update following the meeting. 

When I compare the placement of the post-its, there is far more now that is certain. Until a mass immunisation programme is in place, it would be wrong to suggest that we are coming to the end of Covid-19 but certainly there is a growing sense of what “living with Covid-19” will be like.  

I think we have charted a course for both our organisation and the city through the “response” stage and we are clearly charting a course forward into the transition and recovery stages.   

We now appear to be through the anticipated surge and, as the health crisis turns into a lingering financial and economic crisis, we will need to remain resilient and to tap all our sources of hope, trust and optimism in order to unlock creativity and build momentum for the future. 

We must build a momentum for the future, and I think we can do that by channelling positive sentiments and by encouraging our sense of community within the council, with partners and with communities across the city.  

It is important that we start sharing positive stories and creating uplifting moments as part of our efforts to reignite our resilient spirit. It is important to acknowledge the loss we feel and we can also counter that loss by channelling positive emotions.   

It is heart-breaking to think of the loss that some families have experienced because of this pandemic and I know we all feel that. If we ever needed a reminder of the fragility of life, then this pandemic has done that, and I am sure we’re all re-addressing what’s important to us as a consequence of this reminder. 

The Star Awards ceremony are a way to share some positive stories from our pre-Covid-19 world and I hope they help to maintain your spirits.  

You can watch the pre-recorded Awards presentations via the intranet  or on YouTube on Thursday 25th June from 6.30.  This is the first time the event has been held ‘virtually’ and hosting it this way opens the event up to many more of you being able to attend.   

You can also read more about the event itself on a recent blog by the organising team. 

I hope you’ll take the time to log in and hear about some of the amazing work going on across the organisation.  I’d like also to extend my thanks to the team for organising our new ‘virtual’ awards, something we would probably have never done pre Covid-19. 

As always thanks to every one of you for all you’re doing – it’s much appreciated. 

Angela  

Following today’s announcements from the First Minister that we have now entered Phase 2 of the route map.  Details of our ongoing response to the route map as an organisation and preparations for further phases will be issued when they are available here.  

You can read our press release and view the associated update on our external webpage here.

The announcement today stated that some changes originally described in phase 2 have not come into effect immediately and will likely be introduced after 29th June, and that others contained within phase 2 in the route map continue to be explored for easing but are not currently confirmed for this phase. Angela discussed the further changes we might expect to make as we move into and through phase 2 in her most recent all staff email  – you can read it here. If you do not have access to the Intranet Angela’s message is also available on People Anytime.

You can view the Scottish Government Route Map Phase 2 update released today.

As has been shown today, it is important to remember that not all these changes will take place at once and any impact this has on your service will be worked through with your chief officers and the Reinstatement Working Group before any changes are made. You can read more about the Reinstatement process in our phase one blog.   

As we did with phase one and will continue to do throughout phase 2 and in subsequent phases –   it is important that we continue to prepare to reopen our services in a way which is safe for both staff and the citizens of Aberdeen and is in line with the timing of changes to Government advice.   

The health, wellbeing and safety of customers and staff remains our number one priority.  

As with previous announcements – unless you hear otherwise from your Chief Officer or senior management team – please continue to follow your current working arrangements.  

Our default position continues to be that anyone who can work from home must continue to do so.  As individual services, or parts of a service, are reinstated any change to this or other ways of working will be communicated to teams through Chief Officers.  

Meanwhile, across our buildings systems are being put in place as preparation for potential future easing and reinstatement of office based services to allow anyone who is returning to our facilities to adhere to physical distancing including one-way systems and a cease to hotdesking and shared equipment. 

Additional details of changes to individual services will be published on the council website on a regular basis as FAQs.   

Every three weeks the government will review how the virus is being controlled and decide to what extent it can move from one phase to another. Not everything currently listed in a single phase will necessarily happen at the same time. The review date for phase 3 is 09 July followed by phase 4 on the 30 July.

Thanks and Stay Safe ​​​​​​​

We are now coming to the end of Phase 1 of the Scottish Governments Route Map Through and Out of the Crisis”. The government has confirmed that we are set to move to Phase 2 following the 18th June end-of-cycle review, if the evidence supports that.  Initial indications are that infection rates (and the R number we have read about) are falling but it is important to remain cautious.  As we move into  Phase 2, possible variations (which will be confirmed by the First Minister on the 18th) include:  

  • permitting meeting outside with larger groups including family and friends with physical distancing 
  • increased public transport services with physical distancing, but with travel at peak times possibly being discouraged. Employers are asked to look at staggering times and flexible working.  
  • allowing people to travel locally for leisure purposes  
  • remote working is likely to remain the default position for those who can. Non-essential indoor non-office-based workplaces may resume once relevant guidance has been agreed, with physical distancing in place. 
  • construction sector to implement remaining stages of phased return. 
  • planning for on campus university lab research to restart subject to physical distancing 
  • permitting small retail units and outdoor markets to re-open with physical distancing in place 
  • permitting pubs and restaurants to open outdoor spaces with physical distancing and increased hygiene routines 
  • opening of playgrounds and sports courts with physical distancing, and a resumption of professional sport in line with public health advice 
  • opening of registration offices to open for high priority tasks  
  • opening of places of worship for private prayer with physical distancing and hygiene safeguards 
  • planning to allow marriages, civil partnerships and other types of ceremonies to take place with a limited number of attendees 
  • range of GP services, optometry and ophthalmology services and see an increase in availability of dental services 

During phase 1Stephen Booth has been leading the Reinstatement Working Group to get our services ready for the anticipated moves to Phase 2 and beyond.  The group is responsible for overseeing the safe reinstatement of services as lockdown restrictions ease.   

Since Phase 1, we’ve introduced a further working group entitled “Places for People” and this group is being led by Gale Beattie, our chief officer for Strategic Place Planning. This cross-council group is overseeing all the adjustments we’re making across Aberdeen to help facilitate the requirements of physical distancing, as more people start moving around the city. 

Work is underway, led by Eleanor Sheppard our Chief Education Officer, in preparation for the return of children to school in August. On Friday, we published our overarching local phased delivery plan and this will now enable individual plans to be produced and published for all our school establishments, These plans will hopefully provide our staff and parents with re-assurance about the arrangements being put in place to ensure our compliance with the current public health measures. I’m grateful to Eleanor, the central team and all head teachers for all the preparations that are going on behind the scenes to enable the city’s children to return to a “new normal” after the school holidays.  

 I’d like to take the opportunity to express my thanks to another group of ACC colleagues. Throughout this challenging period the staff at building services have been carrying out emergency housing repairs, providing a service to our customers, some of whom were displaying symptoms of Covid-19; challenging for the staff as each piece of work has to be carefully planned to ensure the safety of our staff and our customers. They have also been working very closely with colleagues in housing to ensure there is a supply of properties available for the people who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of becoming homeless. From fixing properties, to providing fire warden cover for a multi storey where the fire alarm panel developed a fault in the middle of the night, the staff at building services have taken it all in their stride.  I would like to say special thanks to the emergency response and voids teams who have worked alongside Trade Union colleagues to ensure safe systems of work to protect both our staff and customers. 

The government will make a formal announcement on Thursday indicating whether we are now moving to Phase 2. We will consider any advice that is issued early next week and any changes to working arrangements will be communicated to you by your line manager. You should therefore continue with your current arrangements until you hear otherwise. Broadly, we expect that: 

  • If you are currently working from home, you will continue to do so following Thursday’s announcement.  
  • If you are at home self-isolating because you have underlying health conditions, you will continue to stay at home following Thursday’s announcement 
  • If you are at home because you are not able to do your job because your work building is closed, you will remain at home. 
  • If you are currently working in a community hub within a school setting, please continue to do so following Thursday’s announcement 

    I hope that like me, you see this progression through the Route Map as a positive step forwards into our next normal and reminds us of how bonded we are by the services we need and provide.  But also, of how delicate a balance we strike between resurgence and recovery. So I ask you all to stay safe, look after each other, support each other to comply with the guidance relevant for the phase we are in. I know I can trust you to take responsibility for this.  

    Angela 

    The recent confirmation that we have now entered phase 1 gives us a renewed sense of hope and anticipation and gives us the opportunity to take stock of what a significant period of change we’ve just lived through in both our working and home lives.

    So instead of my routine of reflecting over the last week and looking forward to the next week, I want to reflect this time over the last 11 weeks and share with you just a few of the ways we, as an organisation and as a team, have changed  over this time.

    How we’ve changed over lockdown

    We care about our Purpose, our City and our People

    Being faced with such enormous challenges over the last few weeks has really sharpened the focus of what’s most important to protect the citizens of Aberdeen and keep the city going. This has given rise to some amazing work and some unexpected heroes coming to the fore.

    To showcase some of the amazing work taking place in our communities and provide citizens with a selection of interactive resources during the lockdown, we launched Aberdeen Together on our website. This includes gardening videos by our very own Danny the Gardener, wildlife videos by our Countryside Rangers and a virtual tour of the Aberdeen Art Gallery.

    In the past few weeks we have seen a sharper focus on our organisational purpose which has shaped our daily priorities.

    • How can we ensure that this sharpened prioritisation continues and permeates into the next normal?
    • How can you ensure that your team continues to be aligned to the organisational purpose?
    • How can we ensure that our meetings maintain the swiftness of decision making and clarity of purpose we’re seeing during COVID-19?

    We take pride in what we do and work to make things better

    In many instances, necessity has been the mother of invention, with services rising to the challenge by swiftly introducing digital solutions to reduce physical contact whilst still providing human contact and care.

    • In the Housing Service,we have been able to allocate properties in a contactless fashion out with normal working hours. We have started sending property offers to the customer’s named Support Officer to assist with preparation for moving home and we are now able to accept electronic signatures via text messaging for our client consent forms in the Financial Inclusion Team.
    • Across the Council, over 50 Digital Champions have stepped into a new world of delivering online training to their teammates in Microsoft Teams. In the absence of a traditional classroom, they’ve been delivering live demonstrations by video call, taking their colleagues through the skills needed to stay connected and productive when working remotely.
    • COVID-19 school closures led to a significant and rapid change in our operating environment.  We very quickly needed to introduce a digital platform to ensure our children and young people still receive an Education. Enhanced virtual support was also put in place for around 3000 school pupils who were recognised as needing more than simply access to an appropriate digital curriculum.  In some cases, the most vulnerable families are being contacted by school staff daily.  Around 2500 Chromebook and some WiFi dongles have been issued to families to support children to access a digital delivery.

    We trust each other and take responsibility

    In the past, many of us have been reluctant to work from home – or allow others to work from home. The huge surge in colleagues working from home as a result of lockdown, cut through all that reluctance. 

    Thanks to the new technologies we have rolled out as part of the digital transformation, especially Microsoft Teams, the past few weeks have established that working from home or at a location remote from our usual office is not only possible but in many ways has worked incredibly well and increased productivity. Through feedback in the recent Office365 survey, it seems many colleagues are really finding the benefit from not having to sit in traffic, observing the environmental impact, having increased work-life balance through having the ability to vary their hours. But also feeling more trusted and empowered – this quote really resonated with me:  

    The feeling of trust from my managers that I will perform well unsupervised. I feel more empowered, although my line managers at ACC have, on the whole, empowered me to do my job the way I think best. I enjoy the working environment more than I have done for some years.”

    This crisis has shown how going forward, even after we ‘get back to normal’ that for many of us working from home or remotely from our usual office is a viable or even preferable alternative to 5 days a week in the same place.  Of course, some work still needs to be done to ensure that if working from home becomes a more permanent feature for some of us that we take into account of health and safety of staff.

    • How do you imagine yourself working after the complete exit from lockdown – do you wish to sustain home working more permanently?
    • If we are to make home working sustainable, how do we ensure that work/life balance is preserved?
    • And how we ensure that we build and maintain relationships and what role, if any, is there for support networks?
    • Can the trust and confidence that’s been built up during COVID-19 see us experimenting with teams more permanently determining the flexibility of hours worked – can teams agree for themselves, what hours need to be covered and how they want to cover those hours – self managing teams?

    Normally information is scattered across the organisation, during COVID-19 we’ve made a lot of use of the intranet, where regular and clear messaging has been provided. With a single focus on our purpose, as required by the pandemic, it’s felt easier to ensure everyone has the same information at the same time.

    We’ve seen a range of communication channels used throughout this period – chat on Microsoft Teams, Whatsapp groups, etc – my sense is that email is becoming the old fashioned mechanism now.

    • I’m curious about whether we could switch email off for all internal communications – could we try that for a month as an experiment – if it turns out to be unhelpful, we can reverse the policy in a month?

    One Team, One Council

    To make sure we continue to deliver critical services and protect the most vulnerable, over 2000 colleagues signed up to be considered for alternative duties during the outbreak and 542 have been assigned alternative duties under the Temporary Movement of Staff scheme. These include but are most definitely not limited to answering calls on the crisis helplines, prescription deliveries, care home support, education hubs, childcare, business enquiries helplines, supporting the crematorium, driving duties and supporting waste & recycling operations. I’d like to thank everyone who volunteered for the scheme for pulling together and for working together as ‘One Team’ to ensure we can continue to offer vital support to those that need it.

    We’ve seen existing teams pivot from their ‘business as usual’ into new duties in response to the crisis and many teams adapt by using new or different platforms to engage customers.

    • City Growth’s Employability & Skills team very quickly adapted their approach to make sure they can continue to support citizens from school leaving to retirement age with the support they need to get into and sustain employment or education.
    • Fersand’s Community Project Youth Work team have adapted to working from home and have found innovative ways to continue providing services to young people in the area.

    And during COVID-19 we have put together teams to deal with COVID-related problems, operating with a defined mission, a sense of urgency and only the necessary personnel at the table. Staff have moved quickly to solve problems, relying on expertise rather than rank.

    • A good example is  the  Crisis Support team which continues to provide a 24/7 service for those hardest hit by the lockdown and who require welfare advice and emotional support, including what to do if struggling to get food, prescriptions or pay bills. To establish this quickly, the team embraced the challenge which took innovative thinking and collaboration across multiple service areas and partner organisations to deliver a fully operating service under very tight timescales. 

    In the last 11 weeks we’ve seen ourselves, out of necessity, experiment with a more flexible workforce model through our approach to the temporary movement of staff. This has helped us to address the imbalance between demand and supply for labour.

    • How could we develop this to become an approach to internal talent exchange?
    • How could we develop our flexibility in order to balance peaks and troughs?

    In the last 11 weeks we’ve also seen ourselves, out of necessity, create networks and agile teams operating beyond the old organisational lines of management and siloes. We’ve seen new teams form quickly and existing teams adapt to meeting the changed needs of their customers.

    • How can we continue to operate in a more networked, agile and dynamic way going forward?

    One Team, One City

    Not just within Aberdeen City Council, but across the city we’ve seen a real pulling together of resources and a sense of shared purpose and working as One Team with our city partners.

    CFINE is working in partnership with the Council to support the Crisis Support Line and deliver food directly to people in need. During April they delivered 5,720 emergency food parcels, 100 tonnes of free FareShare food and supported 160 people to navigate the welfare system.

    Partnership working from Homelessness, Temporary Accommodation, Prison, and the Alcohol & Drugs Partnership has been very strong and has enabled a high levle of customer service during the Early Release of Prisoners. Additionally, partnership working with Turning Point Scotland, Aberdeen Cyrenians, Aberdeen Foyer and Grampian Women’s Aid has also had pivotal focus regarding care and welfare of vulnerable clients.

    Volunteers and community groups have played an exceptional and critical role in response to crisis. The council has worked with Aberdeen City Health & Social Care Partnership, ACVO and the British Red Cross in particular to get full value from our volunteer effort. We’ve established new roles called ‘Neighbourhood Co-ordinators’. These are Community Learning & Development and HSCP staff that have been assigned a geographic area of city to support community group and volunteers working in the locality to support needs of community. Volunteer groups really have been worth their weight in gold during the pandemic. Working in partnership with them has been fantastic and you can see some stats below about what they’ve up to.

    The Chief Officers for Aberdeen City, Aberdeen and Moray Health & Social Care Partnerships and the Acute Sector in NHS Grampian have created a video to talk about their work together across the North East and changing the way they work during the outbreak. 

    We Value Each Other

    One great example of employee empowerment that has emerged through lockdown is The Blether, our new staff magazine, which has been launched by a small team of colleagues, headed by Cathy Lewis in Finance. The team really stepped up to the need for us to stay connected and celebrate the people of Aberdeen City Council. They are making great use of the available technology – showcasing feature stories on the intranet and keeping ongoing conversation through an open, all employee Microsoft Teams site. At times we can all get caught up in the day-to-day grind and the stories in The Blether are great reminder of the human face behind what we do.  

    COVID-19 has demanded we focus on employee benefits, some of which we  may in the past have taken for granted eg. sick leave, protective measures (eg PPE) and the new norm of remote working. We have also placed a significant emphasis on employees’ Mental Health, building on the work we started pre COVID-19 to bring the same focus on mental as physical health.

    As we look to the future, what changes should we sustain?

    As we reflect on the changes and look to the future, we have decisions to make in terms of which changes we wish to sustain.  Of the changes I’ve referenced above, and of the changes you’re aware of that I am not, how would you categorise them using the following?

    • Stopgap solutions we’ve put in place to get us through the crisis, but which may not continue post-lockdown.

    • Practices from the old normal that may not be sustained.

    • New, exciting, innovative practices that could be shared, accelerated and more widely adopted in the next normal.

    • New customer/staff experiences with momentum and the potential to become cemented in next normal.

    We now have a better sense of what can and cannot be done outside of our traditional approaches. The recent pace and depth of change has demonstrated what’s possible. We must cement the positive changes we have made since the onset of the pandemic and continue to push beyond the way things have been done in the past.

    The 20th century British explorer Ernest Shackleton once noted “Optimism is True Moral courage”. Optimism and courage are the qualities we need more than ever as we make the decisions about which of the​​​​​​​ above changes will shape the next normal.

    Click here to read in browser

    Dear colleagues,

    Last week saw us move into Phase 1 of the Scottish  Government’s 4-phase “Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis”.  Much work has been done across the council and our Arm’s-Length External Organisations, particularly Sport Aberdeen, to get some services back up and running and ensure appropriate measures are in place across the city to keep to social distancing rules. So well done everyone and thanks for all the hard work that went in to enable the transition to Phase 1. I’d particularly like to thank the following colleagues for getting our household waste recycling centres back up and running: Kris Hultman, Noel Taylor and colleagues from Suez, Colin Forshaw and Scott Williams; Kevin Massie and Terry MacLeod who have helped with traffic management issues.  In addition I’d like to thank the following from our grass maintenance teams: Graham McKay, Andrew Kinghorn, Neil Carsey, Alan Findlay, Norman Rose – a lot of preparations made and a lot of work to do to get all the overgrown grass cut back. Let’s hope it stays dry for you. You can read more about the reinstatement process and our initial changes here.

    You will be aware that Test & Protect, Scotland’s approach to implementing the ‘test, trace, isolate, support‘ strategy, is a public health measure designed to break chains of transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community.  Test & Protect is critical to Scotland’s ability to move through the four phases and as an employer we must play our part in ensuring our compliance with the approach and we will do that by following the public health guidance issued. We have also issued a call for volunteers to assist with Test and Protect – details can be found on People Anytime.

    I thought it would be useful to set out for everyone the three main rules that we must adhere to:

    1. If you become unwell with coronavirus symptoms at work – leave work to self‑isolate straight away and, if possible, wear a face covering on your way home, avoiding public transport. Please arrange to get tested by booking through our online process available here
    2. Until you have been tested and told it is safe to leave home, you should stay at home. Follow the guidance for self-isolation and refer to People Anytime for advice
    3. If you have tested positive for the virus then you will need to self-isolate for a minimum of 7 days. 

    There are two further scenarios in which you may find that you have to self-isolate for 14 days:

    • You have been informed by an NHS contact tracer that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
    • You live with a person who has symptoms or has tested positive

    If you develop symptoms in either of the two further scenarios you should get tested straight away and would require to self-isolate for a further 7 days from the start of those symptoms. Where your test is negative you can return to work when you feel fit to do so.

    Your manager will check in on you remotely just to make sure you’ve got help with all day to day essentials and if you feel able to work, then you can. Under no circumstances return to work before your period of isolation is complete. You may find that you are contacted by a contact tracer and have to self-isolate on more than one occasion – in which case the same rules apply.

    More information is available on People Anytime​​​​​​​

    The four phases of the route map suggest a series of systematic steps to reach some relatable version of the past,  yet the uncertainties that might scupper such plans continue to mount. It’s impossible to write a confirmed return plan because of:

    • the likelihood of a resurgence in cases
    • discoveries about how the virus is transmitted and whom it affects
    • the nature and duration of immunity
    • and the continued changes in the quality and availability of testing and contact tracing.

    ​​​​​​​The best possible plan today is merely that – a plan for today. It will need near continuous re-assessment and change as the circumstances around us develop. We should view the government’s route map in that way.

    Therefore, we must think about coming through the pandemic more in terms of it being open-ended than a fixed time-point. A better mental model is to think about us developing a new “muscle” – a council-wide ability to absorb uncertainty and incorporate lessons into our operating model quickly, if required. We demonstrated our ability to do this during the lockdown phase – so let’s keep that organisational muscle strong in readiness, in case we need it.

    As you may know, our response to COVID-19 has been guided by our three DERCs (Duty Emergency Response Coordinators) – Martin Murchie, Gale Beattie and Fraser Bell. To ensure we capture the organisational learning from the lockdown phase, the DERCs have instigated a lessons learned exercise and the findings of this will inform our “organisational muscle” – in the event we have to respond to a resurgence of the virus.

    Our organisational muscle must be characterised by a willingness to change plans and base decisions on hypotheses about the future – supported by continually refreshed data about what’s happening. Our three DERCs have been thinking about our existing decision-making and risk management systems and approaches and thinking how these must adapt, considering any requirement to change our plans.

    While we face a future filled with uncertainty, it remains filled with possibilities to serve the world in new and more impactful ways. As we continue to work through our Build Back Better approach, let’s think about those possibilities.

    Let’s continue to look after ourselves, our families and each other by fully complying with the Test & Protect approach.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Please continue to find up-to-date Coronavirus advice and guidance on People Anytime

    Dear Colleagues

    Following today’s announcements from the First Minister and the route map issued last week Aberdeen City Council has announced plans for how it will safely steer the council and the city through Phase 1 of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.   

    Today also sees the launch of Test and Protect  – which will see testing carried out for anyone with COVID 19 symptoms, and the need to self-isolate for 14 days if you are contacted by a contact tracer 

    As we now move through Phase 1 of the route map the Reinstatement of Services Working Group will be working with Chief Officers and Service Managers, with input from Trade Unions across ACC to ensure that, as and when we reinstate services it is done in a manner which is safe for both staff and citizens.  

    Gradual changes that adhere to physical distancing and hygiene measures, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of residents and Council staff will be put first and anyone who can work from home must continue to do so. 

    You can find details of this process and the first services that have been through this process and are to be reinstated here .  Please take the time to read this post in full.  

    As always you’ll find the latest Covid-19 advice and guidance on People Anytime

    As decisions on reinstatement are taken we will continue to share updates and in the meantime – and until you hear otherwise from your Chief Officer or senior management team – please continue to follow your current working arrangements and everyone who can work from home must continue to do so. 

     

    Thanks and Stay Safe 

    Fraser Bell (Chief Officer – Governance, Acting as Duty Emergency Response Co-ordinator)

    Isla Newcombe (Chief Officer – People and Organisational Development)

    Stephen Booth (Chief Officer – Corporate Landlord)

    The Scottish Government published Scotland’s Route Map Through and Out of the Crisis last Thursday. This is a welcomed document, as it describes the stages we will now go through as the current restrictions begin to be lifted across Scotland.

    The document sets out the four phases by which the Scottish Government will aim to ease lockdown.  These phases are gradual and incremental and each phase will be triggered following careful monitoring of the virus.  The route map provides us with an indication of the order in which the government will seek to lift current restrictions but does not specify dates for all the different phases. Instead, every three weeks the government will review and report on whether, and to what extent, it can move from one phase to another.  It may be that not everything currently listed in a single phase will happen at the same time.

    The government has confirmed that we are set to move to Phase 1 following the 28 May end-of-cycle review, if the evidence supports that. In respect of Phase 1, possible variations include:

    • permitting people to use public outdoor spaces for recreational purposes.
    • permitting of meetings of two households outdoors and with physical distancing.
    • changes in guidance to allow for the planning of schools returning.
    • permitting outdoor workplaces to resume with physical distancing measures in place following guidance approval.
    • permitting the gradual opening of drive through food outlets and garden centres with physical distancing.
    • permitting outdoor exercise adhering to physical distancing measures; and
    • permitting the gradual resumption of key support services in the community subject to appropriate physical distancing and hygiene measures.

    Over recent weeks, as you’ll be aware, ACC’s Covid-19 incident management team has overseen the development of scenario planning including the easing of restrictions.  As part of this, and as described in my communication last week, work is underway to prepare for the reinstatement of services through a Reinstatement Working Group.  The Working Group, led by Stephen Booth, will oversee the safe reinstatement of services as lockdown restrictions ease through our reinstatement process.  The group will seek to support and challenge the reinstatement of services to ensure the safety of staff and customers within a reduced building capacity.  The reinstatement of services will be fully aligned to the lifting of restrictions as set out in the 4 phases in the government’s route map and we will follow the timeline announced by the First Minister at each 3-weekly review, until we have reached Phase 4.

    As you will be aware, even with the easing of restrictions, not all services should necessarily resume to pre-Covid-19 arrangements. Financial implications of standing up services or utilising buildings will need also to be considered as we look to manage the financial challenges flowing from the pandemic.

    As per the government’s guidance, remote working will continue to remain the default position for those who can.   Our approach to remote working had to be swift in response to the suddenness of the lock-down.   As home working needs to continue to be the default position for those that can, I have asked health and safety colleagues to review home working arrangements in light of the prolonged timescale.

    Phase 1 of the route map allows us to resume  outdoor workplaces  with physical distancing measures in place so colleagues are preparing for the return of many of our services which are delivered outdoors following the anticipated “go ahead” by the First Minister on Thursday the 28th May. I do appreciate that there will be a backlog of work for these colleagues to deal with – grass levels at an all-time high – so thank you in advance for the work you’re about to do to clear the backlog; it’s much appreciated.

    In addition to the publication of the route map, Scottish Government also published a document entitled “A Strategic Framework for Reopening schools, early learning and childcare provision in Scotland”. This document directs us to start to prepare for a blend of in-school and in-home learning from the start of the school year in August. Again, work is underway, led by Eleanor Sheppard our Chief Education Officer, in preparation for the return of children to school in August.

    It is expected that the Scottish Government will issue a volume of guidance to support each of the 4 phases and therefore our actions will be fully in line with that guidance. Trade union representatives are being kept fully briefed on the approaches we are taking.

    The government will make a formal announcement on Thursday indicating we are now moving to Phase 1. We will consider any advice that is issued early next week and any changes to working arrangements will be communicated to you by your line manager. You should therefore continue with your current arrangements until you hear otherwise. Broadly, we expect that:

    • If you are currently working from home, you will continue to do so following Thursday’s announcement.
    • If you are at home self-isolating because you have underlying health conditions, you will continue to stay at home following Thursday’s announcement
    • If you are at home because you are not able to do your job because your work building is closed, you will remain at home.
    • If you are currently working in a community hub within a school setting, please continue to do so following Thursday’s announcement
    • If you normally work outdoors, you will be expected to return to work following Thursday’s announcement.   This will be subject to further government guidance and the approval of safe local arrangements by our Reinstatement Working Group.

    Whilst accepting the desire to get back to normal, it is important that we move through each of the phases in a safe manner.  Ultimately the development and delivery of a safe and effective vaccine will enable the full transition from the current public health measures. Until that is achieved, the risk of a resurgence of the disease will continue and it will need to be sustainably controlled through the application of intermittent public health measures.

    It will be important that we support each other to understand and comply with the guidance relevant for the phase we are in. I know I can rely on your support with this.

    In the meantime, thank you for your continued support.

    Angela​​​​​​​

    Find the latest Coronavirus guidance and advice on People Anytime 

    The mathematical models that have guided the world’s pandemic response have been portrayed as crystal balls. They instead describe a range of possibilities. When a hurricane or an earthquake hits, the danger is evident, the risk self-explanatory and the aftermath visible. It is obvious when to take shelter and when it’s safe to come out. But viruses lie below the threshold of senses. Neither peril nor safety is clear, despite these mathematical models.

    We continue to see promising signs that the virus has been slowed although it has not been eradicated. It’s clear that as and when current restrictions are lifted, we can and should expect public health measures to continue to be in place in order to stop cases becoming clusters, clusters becoming outbreaks and outbreaks becoming an uncontrolled peak that would require a return to lockdown in order to avoid further loss of life and the health and social care system being over-whelmed.

    If after easing restrictions the evidence shows that the transmission of the virus has not been contained, government will have to re-impose restrictions, possibly returning to lockdown. We must be prepared for the possibility of a cycle of lifting and re-imposing restrictions. As we all worked our way together through the experience of lockdown and learnt to adapt, we’ll do the same if we face a cycle of lifting and re-imposing restrictions – I’m confident we’ll be able to do that.

    In terms of our continued contribution to the response, we should expect to support efforts to maintain physical distancing across the city as the city is gently released from lockdown and we should expect to continue to provide shielding support to those clinically at risk groups. In addition, as I mentioned last week, we must play our part in   the implementation of the “test, trace and isolate, support,” approach. We should think about all these activities in terms of “living with COVID-19” and that degrees of these activities will continue for some time to come, perhaps until an immunisation is available.   These measures will all be critical to keeping our families, neighbours and communities safe from this virus.

    Just as we worked hard to try and ensure that no one was left behind during the lockdown, we must do the same as we look forward to the easing of the lockdown. Our shared responsibility for the security of the most vulnerable in our society will be a critical focus of our work going forward.

    I’m uncertain when we’ll all be back together, as we were before COVID-19,  but I’m feeling hopeful as we start preparing for some return to normal in anticipation of an easing of lockdown.  Our priority will be the safety of colleagues and customers and   we will do that by following government guidance when making decisions for our organisation.

    As an organisation delivering services to our customers and as an employer,

    • we must be prepared to enable and enforce physical distancing,
    • reinforce the importance of strong hygiene practices and
    • ensure awareness of symptoms and the need to take prompt action

    What we focused on last week

    In preparation for the gradual easing of restrictions, colleagues within our Corporate Landlord function, led by Stephen Booth,  have been working on plans for how we will  open up council buildings, including schools, council construction sites, parks and open spaces and that we  do this safely.

    In addition, colleagues in People & Organisation and the Corporate Health & Safety team have been working on plans for how we will ensure the safety of our staff and customers who will be physically returning to these buildings, sites and spaces.

    People & Organisation colleagues continue to liaise with NHS Grampian regarding the testing of key workers and as our pool of staff returning to work gradually gets wider, we will be making full use of the local testing capacity available.  Colleagues from Environmental Health and other areas continued to liaise with NHS Grampian regarding the Test-Trace-Isolate-Support approach to be available for the easing of lockdown.

    I would encourage anyone with symptoms, or who is self-isolating with a family member who has symptoms, to make use of the testing facilities available to all staff. It’s also critical for the health and wellbeing of all staff, as well as our ability to do effective workforce planning and keep critical services running, that we have a good understanding of each person’s current status – so please keep CoreHR up to date with details of whether you are unwell, self-isolating, working from home or making use of special leave. More details on correct use of CoreHR codes can be found here.

    Colleagues from across Strategic Place Planning, Capital and Operations have been developing plans for how we will facilitate social distancing across the public realm, for example, footpaths bus shelters.

    It’s important to stress that these are only our local plans, in anticipation of an ease out of lockdown. The Scottish Government will of course, undertake its normal 3 weekly review on the 28th May and will determine how it wishes to proceed. Even if the Scottish Government indicates its intention to release lockdown – it is anticipated that this will be a gentle release and that those colleagues who can work from home will still be expected to do so.

    To summarise last week, we focused on

    • preparing council buildings, construction sites and open spaces for the requirements of social distancing
    • preparing plans to ensure the safety of those staff who may be returning to work considering a gentle release from lockdown, including ensuring access to testing arrangements for staff
    • preparing social distancing measures for across a range of public realm spaces
    • understanding data held in CoreHR and helping colleagues to correctly utilise the self-reporting functionality to keep track on the status of all staff

    Our focus for this week:

    • continue our preparations for the easing of lockdown
    • continue our work on the development of a financial recovery plan for the council
    • continue our work on a Build Back Better approach to council services. Read more about what Build Back Better means here
    • continue our work, as instructed from the Urgent Business Committee, on the development of a socio-economic rescue plan for the city and its citizens for submitting to June’s UBC.

    As I take my daily walk outside, I’m struck that the world looks much the same as it did before, but of course it has been irrevocably altered by the pandemic. We read heart-breaking daily accounts of those who have lost loves ones and those who have been lost – I felt particularly shocked when the UK recorded over 30,000 deaths. But we don’t read about the losses that never occurred because they were averted – and these of course reach into millions of people who have been saved. Amid a future still filled with some uncertainty, we are able to look to the future and to start making plans with families and friends. 

    Our “new normal” following the easing of restrictions will be characterised by continued public health measures and it’s important that we view these as life saving measures against a virus we can’t see as citizens and employees, when the time comes. Let’s continue to look after ourselves, our families and each other.  

    Angela

    You can find the latest ACC updates and advice on Covid-19 on People Anytime.

    Dear Colleagues,

    Following the Urgent Business Committee meeting last week, all Elected Members have asked me to express their sincere thanks and respect for the way you have all risen to the many challenges we have faced in the last few weeks.  Despite the Coronavirus pandemic and the challenges it has posed, each and every one of you has continued to do your best to provide vital public services to the City of Aberdeen.  You have all pulled together as part of an ACC team that, at a time of crisis, has reminded elected members once again that our employees are our greatest asset.

    Coronavirus will continue to throw up new challenges, not least of which is our financial situation, and elected members are confident that our dedicated staff will continue to work together to ensure Aberdeen and its citizens can rely on the council to provide the services they need.

    Angela

    Dear Colleagues,

    Pandemics and climate risk are similar in that they both represent physical shocks which then translate into an array of socio-economics impacts. The pandemic is sweeping the globe threatening lives and livelihoods at an alarming rate. It was only a couple of months ago that we were similarly watching lives and livelihoods being threatened as a result of extreme flooding.

    Perhaps the current pandemic provides us with a foretaste of what a full-fledged climate crisis could entail in terms of the shock to supply and demand, disruption to supply chains and global transmission.  Addressing pandemics and climate risk require the same fundamental shifts. However, the timescales of both the occurrences and resolution of pandemics and climate hazards are different. The former is measured in weeks, months and years – the latter are measured in years, decades and centuries.

    Climate change can contribute to pandemics according to researchers and conversely the same factors that mitigate climate risks are likely to help mitigate the risk of pandemics.  Across the world, the environmental impact of some of the public health measures taken to counter the pandemic, have been seen by some as a full-scale illustration of what drastic action can produce in a short amount of time. Satellite images of vanishing pollution in China and India during the lockdown are cases in point.

    So, the lockdown potentially represents a crucial moment for climate action. Some of the temporary adjustments put in place such as homeworking and greater reliance on digital channels could endure after the lock down has ended reducing transport demand and emissions. Of course, a reduction in transport emissions can significantly improve the health and well-being of children and adults who currently experience respiratory conditions – those conditions, that put people at risk during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The unwinding of the existing restrictive public health measures will be worked through by government in preparation for the inevitable release from the lockdown (see here for update on latest position). Transportation patterns are going to have to be carefully planned in order to avoid a collapse of social distancing. There’s opportunity, for example, for us as a country to be thinking about introducing different commuting patterns. Different commuting patterns will also enable us to think about different working patterns in order to respond to the phased relaxation of social distancing. So, an opportunity to reshape our immediate future, one that every business and institution must be ready to explore, including our own.

    What we focused on last week

    At the Urgent Business Committee on the 6th May, group leaders considered two reports on plans for the energy transition of the city and the city council. I’m grateful to colleagues across several clusters who have managed to stay focused on the energy transition agenda during the pandemic. Another big crisis on the doorstep of the world, that’s temporarily been overshadowed by COVID-19, but has not gone away. If you’re interested in reading these reports, you can find them here (see items 9 and 10).  If you’re passionate about tackling climate change and want to get involved in our organisational response to it, keep an eye on the intranet for our appeal for “green champions” – coming soon.

    Whilst our priorities remain to help the rescue and recovery of the city from the impact of COVID-19, we face the further challenge of doing that as our own financial position is equally affected by COVID-19. Our Chief Financial Officer, Jonathan Belford, brought this to  our attention in a report to a meeting of the Urgent Business Committee and he has been instructed to report back to the next Urgent Business Committee on 30th June with proposals to ensure the council maintains a balanced budget for 2020/21. Jonathan has created a short video with more information on our financial position here.

    Last week’s meeting of the UBC and the previous week’s planning committee, were enabled by colleagues from across committee support services and I’d like to thank them for the support they provided members and colleagues to enable council business to be conducted using the Microsoft Teams platform.

    As part of Business as Usual, the year-end accounts for financial year 2019/20 have been finalised for both the council and the Integrated Joint Board (IJB). I’m grateful to Jonathan Belford and Alex Stephen and their respective finance teams, for the huge amount of work that’s gone in to getting the accounts closed – all at the same time as supporting the work underway to restore our 2020/21 financial position.

    Colleagues in City Growth were successful in launching the Aberdeen COVID-19 Fund for self-employed recently. This funding is intended to relieve the hardship of people ineligible for other Coronavirus self-employment schemes. It is open to those who became self-employed on or after 6 April 2019 and who were actively trading up to March 2020.We are  now accepting applications from those who meet the criteria  and it is anticipated successful applicants will receive the funds in early May 2020.

    It has been agreed that the operation of the chapel at Hazlehead Crematorium will be reinstated from Monday 11 May 2020, following consideration of the evolving COVID-19 situation.  This will allow us to support bereaved families, although the number of mourners will be limited due to the adherence to social distancing measures. The Funeral Directors will run the services at the chapel, while ACC staff will operate the facility.

    To summarise last week, we focused on

    • Setting out our vision and plans to enable the energy transition of the city and the council and doing this against the backdrop of a global pandemic recognising the inextricable links between climate action and health pandemics
    • Setting out the uncomfortable truth about the impact of COVID-19 on the council’s financial position within financial year 2020/21 and securing agreement to bring plans back to UBC at the end of June
    • Continuing with our Business as usual year end duties by closing the accounts for financial year 2019/20 for the council and the IJB
    • Enabling the temporarily abbreviated decision-making structures of council to meet using Microsoft Teams
    • Launching the COVID-19 Fund for self-employed
    • Re-instating the operation of the chapel at Hazlehead Crematorium

    Our focus for this week

    A key aspect of the next phase of the response to the pandemic is the “Test, Trace, Isolate, Support” approach – you might see this abbreviated to T-T-I-S. The Scottish Government set out its approach to “test, trace and isolate, support,” last week and we will support the extensive work that is now underway to prepare for its implementation.

    The approach  involves  testing  people in the community who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19,  using  contact tracing  to identify the close contacts of those cases, and to support those close contacts to self-isolate, so that if they do develop the disease, there is less risk that they will pass it on to others.

    “When this is all over… ” is a phrase that many of us are probably repeating now. Committing ourselves to a whole load of things we’re going to do once the lock-down is removed. The phrase signals an intention to change. Let’s throw our imaginations forward and imagine what Aberdeen city council will be like when this is all over – this is critical if we are to address our present financial situation. One thing that is certain is that we will all have to adjust to a new, post COVID-19 normal.

    Please continue to “Do what you can, with what you have and where you can”

    Stay safe, we will come through this.

    Angela

    Dear Colleagues

    I wrote to you last week, indicating that Jonathan, our Chief Financial Officer, was submitting a report to a meeting of the Urgent Business Committee on the 6th May, setting out the impact of COVID-19 on the council’s financial position. The report is publicly available, and I hope you have had an opportunity to read it – it does make for sobering reading. Group leaders met virtually and agreed the recommendations in the report. As a result, Jonathan has been instructed to report back to the next Urgent Business Committee on 30th June with proposals to ensure the council maintains a balanced budget for 2020/21.  

    Within the report to UBC, Jonathan distinguished between what is known and what remains unknown/uncertain at this stage: 

    • We have been able to quantify the direct impact of COVID-19 on existing expenditure and income streams, including our ability to deliver existing approved savings from the 2020/21 budget 
    • We have attempted to best guess the duration of the impact, but this will only become certain once the government’s plans become clearer  
    • And it’s unclear, at this point, how much further financial support the government will be able to give local government  

    Now, we can quantify the scale of the problem, but we aren’t in a position yet, to quantify the scale of financial support we may receive from the Scottish Government. It is important that we recognise that the UK and Scottish Governments will rightly need to continue to prioritise projecting jobs, maintaining families’ income, and ensuring all families have food on the table as well as continuing to support the general welfare of the most vulnerable amongst us. But the competition for government’s funding is going to be fierce. 

    We’ll start our work to develop proposals on achieving a balanced budget, assuming no financial support from Scottish Government, and we’ll keep revisiting that assumption over the next 8 weeks.  

    We must now act with urgency. During the crisis, we have worked faster and more creatively than we perhaps imagined possible a few months ago. We must maintain that sense of urgency and possibility during the next 8 weeks. 

    As I reflect on some of the wonderful and innovative approaches we have taken to respond to the lockdown, I recognise that it is these approaches that offer us a once in a century invitation to imagine something richer, truer, deeper, than normal ever was. After the war, people didn’t aspire to go back to the hunger and economic depression of the 30s – they wanted to build a land fit for heroes to live in. This isn’t a time for looking back, it’s a time for imagining the future and starting to live that future now.  This is our lifetime opportunity to Build Back Better. 

    The senior management team have been working on our Build Back Better approach for several weeks and on their behalf, Jonathan will release a further video message tomorrow to take us all through the approach and timelines for our work. Please take the opportunity to watch the video when it is released.  From tomorrow afternoon you’ll be able to view the video through my blog.

    Even the best-case scenario produces an eye-watering funding gap for the current financial year. But let’s collectively view the gap as an opportunity to continue our journey of innovation and learning. There’s a lifetime opportunity here to accelerate our current work to build a council of the future and for us to be bolder and braver in that vision than we were pre-COVID-19.  

    I took the opportunity to remind myself of our organisational purpose recently – “To ensure that the people and place of Aberdeen prospers, but in the event of harm happening, to support the rescue and recovery of  the people and place of Aberdeen  from that harm.” And as I re-read it, I found a bigger meaning in the statement than it perhaps had for me pre-COVID-19. I think I found more meaning in our purpose as I reflected on all that you’re doing in response to COVID-19. I believe that our organisational purpose is currently our shared purpose as a community, not just as an organisation. 

    In our pre-COVID-19 world, we understood our work and how to do it but perhaps not always connecting it to our shared purpose. As we undertake the important work to identify options for balancing our in-year budget, it’s important that we all truly connect with that organisational shared purpose and consider budget options against our purpose.  

    We will find our way through this immediate financial crisis, but I do recognise its severity.  

    This isn’t going to be easy, but I am confident about our collective ability to steer a way forward. I’m seeing all our guiding principles in action: 

    • One Team, One Council, One City 
    • We care about our purpose, our city and our people 
    • We trust each other and take responsibility 
    • We value each other and recognise 

    And from me to you – I have a huge amount of pride in what you’re doing and the work you’re doing to make this situation better.  

    Stay safe 

    Angela

    Dear Colleagues,

    The global pandemic is creating a public re-awakening of the role of public services and the public servants who work with them. We’ve seen many who work in the public sector demonstrate huge acts of selflessness as they have risked their own lives in order to care for others and keep services going. 

    Many of the services which councils and health & social care partnerships provide today can trace their roots back to the 1800s. This was a time of major infectious diseases, most of which have now thankfully been eliminated. In response to the spread of disease, the state became the guarantor of standards of health and environmental quality and provided resources to local councils to make the changes to achieve these standards. And the collection of waste as a core function of all councils was born!  

    Councils’ waste teams continue to be a guarantor of health today, through preventing the resurrection of “old” infectious diseases and supporting the fight against “new” infectious diseases.  In fact, Martin Luther King is quoted as saying “sanitation workers ………their work collecting rubbish is as crucial as that of doctors in preventing the spread of disease”.

    As the daily lives we knew and experienced have been exchanged for something we could not have imagined – we are being forced to acknowledge which tasks and roles are essential. And, as we come through the pandemic, and gratitude is expressed, it will be clearer than ever that no one can succeed or survive alone and that we are all reliant on others, particularly public sector and other key workers

    Ordinarily, the Council’s Waste & Recycling Team delivers a service to the citizens of Aberdeen almost 365 days a year, collecting over 130,000 bins every week.  When COVID-19 struck, and the guidance on social and physical distancing emerged, the team had some difficult decisions to make.  The loss of a significant number of the workforce overnight due to self-isolation, coupled with the need to consider how to best protect those staff at work, meant that continuing the delivery of this service uninterrupted wasn’t possible. So the team rallied together to find a way to continue delivering key services to the people of the city.

    The Waste & Recycling Team carried out a very quick redesign of the service and mustered extra resources such as additional vans, cleaning/hygiene materials and volunteers from other areas of the Council, such as Roads and Environment Services and our waste management contractor Suez. Whilst this did involve a reduction in the frequency of service for recycling and brown bins, our view was that designing a service where all services could continue in some form, was the best and most sustainable way forward in the circumstances.  We are still collecting around 95,000 bins every week.

    There has been a huge effort behind the scenes to redesign routes, develop and implement social distancing procedures both whilst out collecting and also the very challenging task of putting social distancing measures in place at the start and end of the day at the Altens depot where around 200 people usually gather. This was no small feat and not without its challenges – input from our union colleagues has also been welcomed in assisting with this.  This, at the same time as training staff from other services who were unfamiliar with the work, working closely with Suez to ensure the flow of waste and recyclables could continue smoothly, and not least of all, ensuring that the public were being kept well informed of the changes to their services all had to be managed carefully.

    The service are working in very difficult times at the moment, but the ongoing daily efforts of all of the team and the volunteers from other services who continue to come to work every day to manage, supervise and carry out these critical services is to be applauded.  A great team effort.

    In addition, the Environmental Services team has assisted with keeping clear the recycling centres and waste hot spots. They have kept on top of the litter and dog bin emptying which have been well used over the last few week and have kept known litter hot spots in the city centre clear. The team has also been great at keeping on top of requests to remove fly tipped green waste from green spaces.

    Our key workers have always been key workers and the elderly who live alone, isolated, did so before an imposed isolation. The pandemic is allowing others to see perhaps for the first time, the experience of key workers within ACC and our health and social care partnership, and the work you do.

    So as you stand clapping on Thursday, or in a silent moment to yourself, let’s also  be clapping for our own colleagues across all the waste teams, led by Pam Walker, and the environmental services teams, led by Steven Shaw, for the critical work they do everyday in protecting the public’s health.

    The new online magazine for Aberdeen City Council, The Blether, also gives us a place to come together as a community of employees and celebrate the work of our colleagues. Please do take a look.

    Meanwhile, Stay Safe

    Angela

    Sent on behalf of Isla Newcombe, Chief Officer – Organisational Development

    Dear Colleagues

    Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak and the ‘stay at home’ instruction, many national helplines who support victims of domestic abuse have experienced a sharp increase in calls. Recent reports suggest an increase of 49% in calls to helplines and in the 1st 3 weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown 16 people were killed as a result of domestic violence (an 11-year high).  There has also been an increase in calls to men’s helplines. 

    This increased risk has been recognised by the Home Secretary who recently launched a new public awareness campaign on domestic violence – You Are Not Alone.  If anyone is experiencing domestic abuse during lockdown, we want you to know that help is available and if you or someone you know is in danger the strict “stay at home” message, can be relaxed. 

    As an employer, Aberdeen City Council are fully in support of this campaign. We have a duty of care to all our staff which extends to when you are at home as well as when you are at work.  We want to be able to help anyone who finds themselves in this situation where we can. With this in mind, webpages have been built on People Anytime which signpost to the various agencies available to support people facing the possibility of domestic abuse. 

    If you are in a situation of potential risk, the advice is to use the everyday phrase [Is Angela in today] to signal if you need assistance.   Contact your line manager or any manager you feel comfortable with and use this phrase. All managers have been briefed on the campaign and, on hearing this alert, your manager will offer the opportunity to attend a meeting at a Council building (ensuring that social distancing is complied with) if this would assist you to leave a potentially dangerous situation or your manager will offer to make contact with the police, a support agency or a friend or relative for you. If you think that this might be something you would helpful, please ensure that your emergency contact details on CoreHR are up to date with the number of whoever your “safe” contact would be. 

    As an alternative to making your line manager aware, you could consider contacting one of the following for similar assistance:

    Below are a few quick shortcuts to additional local areas of support: 

    Grampian Women’s Aid (AWA): 01224 593381  
    Email: info@grampian-womens-aid.com  
    Website: https://www.grampian-womens-aid.com/  

     Advocacy Service Aberdeen: 01224 332314  
    Email: asa@advocacy.org.uk  
    Websitehttps://www.advocacy.org.uk/about-advocacy-service-aberdeen/victims-of-domestic-abuse/  

     Aberdeen Cyrenians: 0300 303 0903  
    Email: hello@aberdeencyrenians.org  
    Website: https://www.aberdeen-cyrenians.org/get-support/dasap  
    The national helpline is – 0800 160 1985  

    Employees can also access Time for Talking, the Council’s confidential counselling service on 0800 970 3980 or visit the website  to chat online. 

     Further support organisations can be found on People Anytime.  

    Kind regards and stay safe

     

    Isla

    Dear Colleagues,

    Whilst our priorities remain to help the rescue and recovery of the city from the impact of COVID-19, we face the further challenge of doing that as our own financial position is equally affected by COVID-19. This might be an uncomfortable truth but it’s one that our Chief Financial Officer, Jonathan, is having to bring to the attention of council, in a report to a meeting of the Urgent Business Committee on the 6th May.

    I thought it important for you to hear directly from Jonathan, as the authority on the council’s finances. I hope you will take the opportunity to watch Jonathan’s recorded message to us all. Jonathan has agreed to do a further video, explaining the outcome of the decisions reached at the UBC on the 6th May.

    Jonathan has painted several financial scenarios within the report to UBC – ranging from best to worst case. Within these scenarios he has distinguished between what is known and what remains unknown/uncertain at this stage:

    • We have been able to quantify the direct impact of COVID-19 on existing expenditure and income streams, including our ability to deliver existing approved savings from the 2020/21 budget
    • We have attempted to best guess the duration of the impact, but this will only become certain once the government’s plans become clearer
    • And it’s unclear, at this point, how much further financial support the government will be able to give local government

    Jonathan is seeking an instruction to bring back options for addressing this funding gap to the next meeting of the Urgent Business Committee. By that stage, hopefully the level of government support will be clear. However, It is important that we recognise that the UK and Scottish Government will rightly need to continue to prioritise protecting jobs, maintaining families’ income, and ensuring all families have food on the table as well as continuing to support the general welfare of the most vulnerable amongst us. But, the competition for government’s funding is going to be fierce.

    By June, we only have 9 months remaining in order to identify and deliver further savings. I hope that you can be involved in the identification, development and appraisal of budget options. As you know, we’ve chosen over the last few years to transform our operating model and as a result, largely through our digital transformation, we have been able to reduce our cost base. So, we will continue to progress our transformation ambitions by accelerating our planned work on further service redesign.

    The best-case scenario does produce an eye-watering funding gap for the current financial year. It is important to be honest that the scale of change required to address this gap will be felt by all employees. I do appreciate that you have had to adjust to all the changes in response to COVID-19 and won’t necessarily relish more change. I do understand. 

    I am determined that the council plays as full a part as we can in the rescue and recovery efforts in response to this health crisis and that we ensure that no one in Aberdeen is left behind. The COVID-19 health crisis is going to turn into a lingering financial and economic crisis here as well as the rest of the country for some time. So, the city will continue need us to for a long time to come and its incumbent on us to ensure that we come through this as an organisation, able to sustain a long recovery period for the city.

    We do need to be prepared for this lingering financial and economic impact and I think we need to start this work now. I know this is an ask, but I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think we could do this together.

    Meanwhile, stay safe

    Angela

    Dear Colleagues,

    A new weekly publication from the National Records of Scotland on COVID-19 related deaths in Scotland was made public this week. The publication breaks down the statistics for each local authority and lays out the settings in which people have died, including in hospitals, in care homes, those who pass away at home or in some other setting. For the first time, local authority and health board breakdowns are available for care home deaths. These figures show the indiscriminate nature of the COVID-19 virus on families, which is affecting all settings in all parts of the country. 

    A virus has spread across the globe, affecting all populations. What we take from this pandemic will surely include an understanding that all of our lives, our health and well-being, are bound up with everyone else.

    The Thursday night clapping now feels like a public ritual that brings us together – perhaps similar to the minute’s silence we observe in November for those who lost their lives in war and conflict.  The clapping represents a solidarity with all “care givers” and a remembrance of a different kind – for those who have lost their lives to COVID-19. It’s lovely that people want to break their isolation for a brief moment to give thanks and celebrate and remember life.

    So, as you stand clapping on Thursday, or in a silent moment to yourself, let’s also clap for our own colleagues across the health and care system here in Aberdeen; including all our care home providers and Bon Accord Care.

    The isolation demanded in response to this infection is preventing families and friends from being able to say farewell to loved ones in the way we’re accustomed to at the end of a life. I know that our colleagues in Registrar, Burial and Crematoria services are thoughtful about this and feeling the pain of families. I’d like to thank colleagues in those services for the care and attention they’re giving to families who have lost a loved one at this time.

    What we focused on last week

    Colleagues in the city’s Health & Social Care Partnership continue to provide support to all care home providers in the city. I’d like to record my own heartfelt thanks to all the care home providers and their staff for the commitment and care they’ve continued to provide to residents throughout this incredibly difficult time. I’d also like to thank the staff at Bon Accord Care for providing the same care and attention to residents in sheltered and very sheltered complexes across the city.

    A digital school curriculum has been put in place at speed to support our young people. A questionnaire was issued to families, pupils and staff to get feedback on the approach put in place and initial responses have been positive with a high response rate.  We’ll continue to seek feedback on our approach in order to ensure we continue to develop it for our young people. This is a hugely uncertain time, particularly for all senior phase pupils and I’d like to put on record my thanks to all school leaders and teaching staff for the support they are providing to young people.

    I also want to record my thanks to Education and Social Work colleagues for the joint work they have undertaken to identify children and young people who are thought to be vulnerable and for making suitable arrangements to stay connected with these children and their families either through the school or through the established vulnerable hubs.

    The ability of our staff to continue to deliver critical services whilst remaining safe was further strengthened this week with all critical services (including BAC) completing risk assessments which take into account the latest government guidance.  Progress was also made this week to get our critical workers COVID-19 tested through NHS Grampian.

    A significant amount of joint work has taken place between our Procurement and Capital teams to ensure that we do all we can to support the construction sector. Our work on project designs continues to ensure we’re ready to award work to the sector on the easing of the lockdown.

    To summarise last week, we focused on

    • Supporting fellow care workers in the cities care homes
    • Welcoming back school pupils to their “digital schools”
    • Remaining focused on vulnerable children as an integrated children’s’ service
    • Completing all our risk assessments and getting colleagues access to key worker testing
    • Engaging with the construction industry in order to be ready to award work when the lockdown is eased

    Our focus for this week:

    • Following the government’s announcement to allow for the early release of prisoners – work will get underway to accommodate this early release scheme
    • Education and Legal colleagues will begin preparations for ensuring the council is ready to respond to the government’s extension to the deadline for school placing requests

    Let me end by turning my attention to you. How are you doing?

    In a crisis, our mental state often seems only to exacerbate an already extremely challenging situation, becoming a major obstacle. As the mind wanders, research has shown that it easily gets trapped into patterns and negative thinking. During times of crisis — such as those we are living through now — this tendency is exacerbated, and the mind can become even more hooked by obsessive thinking, as well as feelings of fear and helplessness.

    The emotional and psychological response you may be experiencing to this crisis is natural and very human. But the truth is they often bring us more suffering by narrowing and cluttering our mind and keeping us from seeing clearly the best course of action.

    The way to overcome this natural tendency is to build our mental resilience.  Resilience is the skill of noticing our own thoughts, unhooking from the non-constructive ones, and rebalancing quickly.

    I’d like to draw your attention to Fiona’s blog on the intranet which brings together lots of useful sources of help if you’re struggling.  And  Cathy’s new online staff magazine will soon offer staff a place to come together as a community to stay connected, share your experience of work right now and swap ideas, hobbies and ways of working that you are using to keep yourselves well.

    COVID-19 has brought into focus the inter-connectedness of our health and well-being. It also reminds us that many of our colleagues are involved every day in supporting life, supporting the end of life and celebrating that person’s life.  Important we give thanks to all those colleagues.

    Meanwhile, Stay Safe.

    Angela

    You can find the latest ACC updates and advice on COVID-19 on People Anytime.

    Sent on behalf of Isla Newcombe, Chief Officer – Organisational Development

    Dear Colleagues  

    To protect the people and place of Aberdeen, many of us are now working at home but many of our teams also continue to deliver frontline critical services throughout the Coronavirus crisis. Some colleagues, due to the nature of their role, require the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at this time, but all colleagues need to be adhering to social distancing guidance.  

    Safety and Risk Assessments 

    Staff and customer safety is absolutely critical, and every one of us should feel confident delivering services, knowing that appropriate risk assessment has been undertaken, procedures are in place and -where relevant – we have access to the PPE that we need to do our job.  The latest guidance and procedures to protect the health, safety and welfare of colleagues can be found on staying safe while working pages.  The webpages also offer guidance on how to properly use any necessary equipment.  Additionally all managers have been undertaking risk assessments in conjunction with our Corporate Health and Safety Team to help ensure the safety of all colleagues.   

    PPE Requirements 

    Please be assured that close monitoring of PPE requirements is taking place for all areas across the organisation,  on a daily or weekly basis. In addition, for all members of staff, managers or service managers, if you cannot immediately access the PPE you need before commencing your task or feel unsafe in any way, you can use this escalation process to get the help and advice you need.   

    Everyone has a role to play in ensuring that safe working guidelines are adhered to. 

    Symptoms at Work 

    Finally, if you or any colleague shows symptoms at a place of work – a reminder to please follow this guidance, found on People Anytime.  

    Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms must not attend work and anyone displaying symptoms at work needs to return home immediately. 

    Common symptoms of the virus are a high temperature or fever and/or a new continuous cough.  If an employee displays either of these symptoms at work, they should: 

    • go home as soon as they notice symptoms and follow the stay at home guidanceThey should note that any household members will also be required to follow stay at home guidance.  
    • Where possible minimise contact with others as they travel home i.e. use a private vehicle to go home. If it is not possible to use private transport, then they should be advised to return quickly and directly home. 
    • If they have no alternative to public transport, they should try to keep away from other people and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue. If they don’t have any tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.

    If they are so unwell that they require an ambulance you should: 

    • phone 999 and let the call handler know you are concerned about COVID-19.
    • Whilst you wait for advice or an ambulance to arrive, try to find somewhere safe for the unwell person to sit which is at least 2 metres away from other people preferably in a separate room where they can be isolated from others. If another employee must remain with them then they should remain a minimum of 2 metres away.

    If a member of staff has helped a colleague who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, or if they have been working in the same area as this person, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell with symptoms consistent with coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. 

    It is not necessary to close the business or workplace or send any staff home, unless government policy changes. Keep monitoring the government response page or the Government Guidance for Employers for the latest details. 

    Remember that anyone involved in delivery of a critical service who is experiencing symptoms, or who is self-isolating because a household member is experiencing symptoms, can now apply for testing for them or for their household member. Information can be found here.

    Cleaning and Disinfection 

    If someone develops symptoms whilst in the workplace, they should leave the premises immediately and follow self-isolation guidelines as outlined above. Other colleagues should vacate the immediate area until cleaning and disinfection has taken place, work which will be undertaken by our cleaning team. The immediate area that had been occupied by the individual e.g. desk space, will be cleaned with detergent and disinfectant. Cleaning and disinfection will include any potentially contaminated high contact areas such as door handles, telephones, grab-rails, etc. Once this process has been completed, the area can be put back into use.  To request these services, or to seek advice, please contact the Cleaning Services Management team directly.  

    Any public areas where a symptomatic individual has only passed through (spent minimal time in) e.g. corridors do not need to be further decontaminated beyond routine cleaning processes.  

    This guidance is in line with Health Protection Scotland Advice 

    All our procedures will continue to be updated in line with the latest guidance.  You can find the latest ACC updates and advice on Covid-19 on People Anytime.  

    Stay Safe 

     

    Isla

    Dear Colleagues

    When I wrote to you last week, we were anticipating the impending government announcement regarding an extension to the lockdown. On Thursday the UK and Scottish Government confirmed the extension of the lockdown for a further three weeks. UK and Scottish governments acknowledged that the restrictions have resulted in a slowing down in the community transmission of the virus but were not confident that the transmission has slowed enough to ease up the restrictions.

    The actions now being taken now to slow the transmission of COVID-19 will ultimately bring forward the day we can return to a pre-lockdown world. To be able to lift the lockdown, the governments will need to see the number of people infected by the virus fall for a prolonged period. Maintaining a steady and consistent rate of low or no transmission is an important part of the fight against COVID-19.

    The one thing we can be certain of is that the lockdown will come to an end.  This week saw the German government announce plans to slowly ease restrictions, whilst they will see social distancing stay in place until at least 3 May, smaller shops are being allowed to open this week and German schools will re-open from 4 May. So while it’s still far from certain when the UK will come out of lockdown, we can see other countries gradually easing the restrictions and our government(s) will learn from the approach to easing of restrictions taken by other countries.

    What we focused on last week

    We supported the efforts to significantly increase capacity for COVID-19 testing across the country. Our Roads team helped to create an NHS testing facility at Aberdeen Airport’s Park & Depart on Wellheads Drive.  The site went live for testing on Saturday 11th April.

    Preparations were made for the extension of COVID-19 testing by NHS Grampian to other keyworkers, including Aberdeen City Council staff. Any member of staff who is identified as a critical worker can now request testing for COVID-19 by completing an online form.  Details of these can be found on the Critical Services list.

    Work got underway to get ready for the testing of all symptomatic residents and staff in care homes and/or their symptomatic household members that are self-isolating.

    The work of the ‘Shielding Support Team’ intensified with over 5,300 calls made by the team to citizens identified as having compromised immune systems. We continued to provide support for citizens in the non-shielded, “at risk” categories. And we supported the national phone line, which was launched on Tuesday by the Government, with calls being triaged back into our teams. Our own Crisis Support Line will continue to operate.

    We responded to the changing guidance around the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by revising our risk assessment approach and workplace procedure guidance. We are working with local suppliers, national frameworks and Scottish Government to ensure that staff have access to the PPE that they need.  For guidance visit the Staying Safe at Work pages on People Anytime.

    Colleagues in City Growth and Finance began preparations to support the First Minister’s announcement on the extension of business grants to those with multiple properties and to support the self-employed. As of last week, over 500 payments had been made so far with more being processed.

    To summarise last week, we focused on

    • Protecting front line workers through the enhanced capacity for testing
    • Protecting vulnerable populations by making over 5,300 calls to those in the shielding category
    • Preparing for the extension of business grants and support to the self-employed.

    Our focus for this week:

    • Getting ready for our young people to return to our digital classrooms
    • Launching Domestic Abuse Victim Support guidance for our staff, because there are specific challenges and potential risks for those experiencing domestic abuse as a result of staying at home
    • Continuing our focus on sourcing and distributing PPE and providing clear escalation routes for all staff in case of shortages or concerns.

    I appreciate that many of you will be getting frustrated at not being able to work, having to work at home or working in alternative ways but we must, as an organisation, heed the  governments’ advice and guidance at this time.

    It is important that we continue to play our part in reducing the community transmission, including working from home where possible and adhering to our staying safe whilst working guidance, if you must attend a place of work or you work in a frontline service. Last week I shared a video message from home to thank you all for everything you’re doing – it’s appreciated and it’s making a difference.

    With so much new guidance to follow in almost every area of our home and working life at this time, it’s worth remembering that the most important and most effective guidance is also the simplest – I recently read guidance issued by Walmart to its staff – it’s called the 6-20-100 guidance – stand six feet (2m) away to maintain a safe physical distance, take 20 seconds for good hand washing, consider a body temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) the signal to stay home from public activity.

    Let’s all take care of ourselves and our families by adhering to the government advice, the 6-20-100 rule, and our own ACC guidance on People Anytime.

    Stay Safe

    Angela

    Sent on behalf of Isla Newcombe, Chief Officer – Organisational Development

    Dear Colleagues 

    You may be aware that testing for COVID-19 is now available in Grampian and is currently being prioritised for people ill in hospital, colleagues working in Healthcare and within Care Homes. Where there is capacity in Grampian beyond testing for Healthcare workers, Covid-19 testing is now available for other Keyworkers, including Aberdeen City Council staff. 

    Keyworker testing aims to allow staff to return to work quicker than current isolation rules allow. This helps organisations and their essential services to maintain their critical functions. Staff who are vital for the organisation’s or service’s critical function can now request testing for covid-19. 

    Tests are being carried out at drive-through testing centres in Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray.  

    If you are a critical worker and have a high temperature or new continuous cough and therefore must self-isolate for 7 days then you can request to be tested. A negative test result will allow you to return to work once you are well enough even if that is before 7 days. Those who test positive will continue to follow Government advice and self-isolate at home for the required duration of 7 days minimum. 

    Testing is also available for household members of critical staff displaying symptoms for at least 48 hours. If a you are a critical worker and are in household isolation for 14 days because you live with someone who has high temperature or new continuous cough, then you can request a test be offered to your household member(s) with symptoms. A negative test result will mean the 14-day household isolation period is lifted immediately and you can return to work. 

    Whilst capacity is expected to grow, the current constraints mean that we need to offer testing on a priority basis: 

    Firstly, any member of staff who wishes to be tested must be identified as a critical worker.  

    • Red – critical to the Local Resilience Plan response  
    • Yellow – critical to protect vulnerable people  
    • Green – critical digital technology  
    • Grey – organisationally critical 

    Full details about the roles identified as critical to the response can be found on People Anytime 

    This also includes colleagues who have recently moved to undertake alternative duties that fall within any of the categories above through the Temporary Movement of Staff scheme. 

    As a critical worker, you or a member of your household, must have had Covid-19 symptoms for at least 48 hours before you will be tested.   

    Employees who meet this criteria can apply for testing by completing this online form. 

    Managers can also complete this form on a behalf of someone they line manage, with their consent.   

    Full details of the testing application process can be found on People Anytime.   

    This is an important step forward in our ongoing battle to maintain critical services for the people and place of Aberdeen – I hope you will make use of the scheme and if you have any questions at all please contact EGHG@aberdeencity.gov.uk 

    For additional advice and Coronavirus updates please visit  People Anytime – Coronavirus.

    Dear Colleagues,

    Television screens at home are instantly presenting us with images from across the world of how the pandemic is evolving and being responded to – in many cases, showing us the world that lies just around the corner for us. Countries like Spain and Italy report their rates of infection are beginning to plateau while others, such are Russia, are announcing record 24hour highs. At the time of writing there are 1.6 million cases worldwide, and 97,237 deaths. The life of all these nations and their people unfolding in front of us on our television screens.

    However, we must remain hopeful. This week we saw China end the lock down of Wuhan, the original epicentre of the coronavirus.  As Wuhan re-opened its borders after 76 days, global figures also report that 366,409 people have recovered from this virus. We must also remain vigilant and resist the temptation to breach the lock down rules in place in this country. Chinese officials warn the threat of further infection remains far from over.

    Someone once said, “hope is a feeling that life and work have meaning regardless of the state of the world around you”. I believe that the work we are doing as a council is making a difference. Our organisational purpose is to ensure that the people and place of Aberdeen prospers, but in the event of harm happening to the people or place, that we will be there to help with the rescue and recovery from that harm. That purpose is now full of much more meaning for me, and I know for many of you as well, in the light of COVID-19. Let’s keep harnessing our collective spirit and energy behind that purpose.

    Many of you may be wondering what impending government announcements there may be about the current lockdown, given the initial 3-week period is due to expire today.  We expect the government to make a formal announcement this week and we will need to consider any government advice that may be issued.  This means that there will be no immediate changes to working arrangements.  If you are currently working from home, you should continue to do so.  If you are at home because you are not able to do your job because your service is stood down, you should remain at home.   If you are currently working in a community hub within a school setting, please confirm with your line manager what arrangements are made for you.   We will consider any advice that is issued this week and any changes to working arrangements will be communicated to you by your line manager, having been agreed with your chief officer. You should therefore continue with your current arrangements until you hear otherwise.

    In our immediate response last week

    The Crisis Support Line, which is staffed 24/7, handled approximately 400 incoming calls each day, facilitating a range of support.  The dedicated ‘Shielding Support Team’ made between 450 – 800 outgoing calls per day to those in the city with compromised immune systems. Both these teams are offering a lifeline to the city so a big thanks from me.

    Thanks also go to the teams across Customer and City Growth who are processing approximately 1,600 applications received to date from businesses needing financial support.

    Colleagues in Children’s Services responded to updated guidance from the Scottish Qualifications Authority setting out requirements for teacher estimates to support the certification model and awarding of qualifications. It’s Important that we work with SQA to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on our young people in the senior phase.

    To summarise last week, we focused on

    • Contacting and supporting those included in the “shielding” category
    • Continuing to support citizens not included in the shielding category
    • Supporting the business community by processing their applications for support
    • Supporting our young people in their senior phase certification

    Our focus for this week:

    • Continuing to undertake our risk assessments of staff and ensuring the supply of the required PPE.
    • Continuing with the mobilisation of our staff volunteers
    • Continuing our provision of childcare for key workers over the Easter holidays

    The dynamic nature of the situation continues to evolve and therefore we continue to adapt, changing our focus as required, whilst trying to chart a way through this. So, another busy week gone and another one in store.

    It’s important to remember that this situation could go on for some time, so I’d encourage you to ensure you’re taking regular breaks throughout the day and that you use your annual leave too. I know many of you will have had holiday plans and be disappointed about the cancellation of these. But it’s still important to take a break, so please make sure you are taking some time off.

    Thank you for all that you are doing, it’s much appreciated.

    Please continue to “Do what you can, with what you have and where you can”

    Stay safe, we will come through this.

    Angela

    Dear Colleagues,

    The news coverage of the health crisis, over the last week, has featured more about the human impact of the virus. Whilst important issues like personal protection equipment for front line staff has featured highly, so too have the human stories of families who have lost loved ones. At the end of our lives, I guess we all expect to be with our close loved ones – to be able to say how much they have meant to us and to hopefully reflect on a happy life together.  The required isolation demanded in response to this infection, is preventing families from being able to do this. And wider family and friends are also being starved of the opportunity to say their farewells and share stories of happier times, because of the restrictions being placed on funerals.

    These normal rituals of how we celebrate a life, at its end, are being prevented and it must make the loss of a loved one even more difficult to bear. Our thoughts must be with those families and our actions must be guided by our individual and organisational humanity – there was never more of time to bring our true selves to work.  Wednesday saw the highest day on day increase in deaths across the country. A cold reminder that the “anticipated surge” is drawing closer.

    Even as public health authorities negotiate an unprecedented period of demand on the health and social care system, they are trying to design and build systems to prevent resurgence of the disease as we pass the peak. Let’s remain hopeful of the development of clinically validated treatments and tools to add to the arsenal in the global fight against COVID-19.

    In our immediate response last week

    A protocol was agreed with trade unions for the mobilisation and temporary movement of staff where the rescue response needs more capacity. Over 1,500 staff volunteered to be part of this mobilisation and employees are now being contacted to support areas such as call handling for the ACC crisis line, delivering PPE to those who need it most, the Grampian Coronavirus Assistance Hub volunteer co-ordination, waste services and the temporary hospital bed provision. As more requirements arise, more colleagues who have volunteered will be contacted – an update was shared last week and you can see the latest information here.

    Legal colleagues digested the implications of the UK Coronavirus Act 2020 and the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020.    Not all the legislation is currently in force and some powers may never be used. The Scottish and UK governments are empowered to issue regulations and directions bringing parts of the legislation into force. They will do so when they feel that the powers are necessary in order to effectively combat the coronavirus pandemic. 

    City Growth have been playing their part in supporting the city’s business community. A specific grant help line has been set up: Tel 01224 346 146.  1,340 small business grants scheme applications have been received and are being processed.  

     

    Work continued in our preparation for providing the support to those identified in the “shielding“ category and we hooked ourselves into the national volunteering platform, via our website last week.

     

    Our Chief Social Work Officer worked through new Supplementary National Child Protection Guidance and, with colleagues’ support, has been adapting all local practice in line with the guidance.

    And last week, plans were made for household brown bin and mixed recycling collections to resume in Aberdeen this week on a four-weekly cycle.  Household brown bin collections will resume from Monday 6 April and mixed recycling collections from Monday 20 April.  Each will then follow a 4 weekly collection schedule. The general waste bin will continue as at present with fortnightly collections.  The brown bin and mixed recycling collections will still be on a household’s usual collection day.  Recycling points are still available to use for those who can.  The ability to continue the service will be kept under review and any further changes will be communicated.

    To summarise last week, we focused on:

    • Beginning to mobilise staff who volunteered;
    • Digesting the implications of the emergency powers legislation;
    • Supporting businesses by processing applications for small business grants;
    • Continuing our preparation for “shielding” arrangements;
    • Adapting our local practice in line with new child protection guidance;
    • Re-instating our waste services.

    Our focus for this week:

    • Working with the information we now have on the most vulnerable people in the city, including those in the “shielded“ category, we will be focusing on providing them with the support that they need;
    • Work is underway considering guidance on the use and potential to carry forward of annual leave. The government have amended legislation to allow annual leave to be carried forward for those employees who have been unable, for practical reasons, to take annual leave due to the impacts of COVID-19;. .
    • Revised guidance has just been issued (2/4) jointly by the UK and devolved administrations. It outlines what PPE front line and social care workers should be wearing in different settings. Risk assessments and guidance to staff has been updated accordingly and colleagues will need to consider whether further changes in working practices are required..

    So, another busy week gone and another one in store. Important to remind everyone to try and take a break, if they can. As I’ve said, the duration of this pandemic remains unknown and so we must be ready for a marathon and not a sprint. Thank you for all that you’re doing, it is much appreciated.

    Please continue to “Do what you can, with what you have and where you can”

    Stay safe, we will come through this.

    Angela

    Dear Colleagues

     

    Angela announced last week the launch of our temporary movement of staff process to support our city-wide response to COVID-19. This process relies on staff volunteering to undertake alternative roles or duties and being matched to where there is significantly increased need. This may be as a result of increased demand in an area critical to the COVID-19 response; new requirements to support the city with the response or critical areas experiencing reduced capacity due to the impacts of COVID-19 on their team or operations Last week Angela encouraged employees across the organisation to volunteer to move to critical roles or to do alternative duties to support the organisation at this time. 

     

    We have had an overwhelming response from employees across the organisation and to date over 1500 employees have signed up to be considered for alternative duties, so a very big thank you to you all for this. 

     

    We are now matching the requirements coming in from senior managers against the information which has been submitted from employees. This allows us to identify those who have the necessary skills, qualifications or other requirements, and then contact those people to confirm whether they are willing and able to move to that alternative role, confirming this move with their line manager.  As Angela indicated, some areas have particular requirements for those volunteering, so it might not be possible to match everyone who has volunteered to a position straight away. We know many of you are really keen to help and to get started as soon as possible, please be assured you will be contacted when there is a need that we hope you can fulfil and the desire to get moving is fantastic. Anyone currently undertaking a critical role is unlikely to be asked to move in the first instance, though we may approach you and your manager to see if there is the potential for flexibility to support demands across the organisation. 

     

    You can see all the latest information about the areas that we are already matching and moving volunteers to on our webpages. For examplewe are arranging training and movement of employees able to take on general support worker duties to give additional capacity to support clinical staff iNHS / IJB temporary ‘pop-up’ locations. This will provide extra beds for patients who are not critically ill or infectious and are able to be moved out of hospitals. This is a high demand area requiring support 24/7 and we would encourage employees to volunteer by completing the form below, especially if you already are a PVG scheme member (adults) and could provide support. 

     

    The positive response from everyone is absolutely incredible, and is appreciated by the teams who need support and the impact will undoubtedly be felt by the service users and customers that this will affect. It proves that Aberdeen City Council is working as One Team to get us through the Covid-19 outbreak and that we are all working together for the good of our city.  

    If you wish to sign up to support, please complete the employee questionnaire , it’s not too late, new requirements are coming in everyday and every little bit of help is valued and appreciated. 

     

    Remember that you can keep up to date with all ACC coronavirus new on People Anytime. 

     

    Thanks

    Internal Comms.

    Dear Colleagues,

    Last week we witnessed another seismic shift in terms of both governments’ stepping up the public health measures in response to COVID-19 as the pandemic spread across the UK. At the same time, conversely, it was announced that the lockdown in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the global coronavirus outbreak began, will be partially lifted on 8 April. A single new case of the virus was reported in Wuhan on Tuesday following almost a week of no reported new cases.

    So, as countries around the world have gone into lockdown or imposed severe curbs, including the United Kingdom, we must remain hopeful that we will receive the partial lifting of the lock down in due course.  It is important to remain hopeful throughout this pandemic and I was reminded of that by a colleague, who produced this video to remind us all.

    Whilst it’s important to be hopeful, we must also be aware of the potential enormity of the harm coming towards the city and its citizens and our staff. It is heart-breaking to think of the loss that some families will experience as a result of this pandemic and I know we will all feel that. It’s important to bring our emotions and feelings into our work – that shows our humanity. And at the same time, the city and our colleagues need us to be calm, focused and practical in order that we come through this. So, let’s ensure we’re leaning in as a team to support each other.

    Of course, amongst all the awfulness of the situation – the inevitable acts of human kindness and resilience continue to be displayed both across the council and the city more broadly. Never am I more proud than when I see or hear of our staff living our Guiding Principles and going above and beyond for the city.  Our colleague, Cathy Lewis, is keen to capture those acts of kindness and stories of colleagues going above and beyond. So please share details with Cathy – email clewis@aberdeencity.gov.uk or share via yammer

    For those of you with children, and having to adapt to having them at home, I hope you survived the first week.  I hope a combination of Joe Wicks and of course, our brilliant Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire online teaching resource helped you get through. Across Aberdeen City there were 20,000 users of Google classroom a day  with 21,500 daily files being created.  Thank you to our teaching colleagues for keeping our children occupied!

    In our immediate response last week

    Last Monday, saw us well prepared to meet the need of category 1 key workers in terms of childcare.   Meanwhile all other children, were live on Monday, in our google classrooms and our senior phase pupils supported well in response to the announcement of the suspension of exams.

    Given the volume of people working from home across the city, the collection of domestic waste is critical in order to avoid any further health protection issues, and the importance of the work of our waste collection teams as a critical service was highlighted by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in the daily Government COVID-19 briefing on Sunday. This week saw us adjust our provision in order to support a sustainable service. I’m incredibly grateful to colleagues for enabling this service to continue to operate.

    Last week also saw us go live with our crisis helpline and I‘d like to express my  thanks to those colleagues who pulled this together at rapid pace.

    There was strong messaging from both governments about the public’s use of public spaces following the scenes last weekend and this week saw us close play parks across the city.  Public spaces remain open at this stage.

    An increased category of “at risk” was announced last week by the government, to protect the most vulnerable by asking 1.5million people to undertake ‘shielding’, and health and social partnership colleagues have been preparing for these arrangements we need to put in place.

    And finally, we went live with our internal ACC temporary movement of staff questionnaire and saw over 1200 colleagues volunteer so far to help the rescue and recovery effort.

    To summarise last week, we focused on

    • Activating our childcare arrangements for category 1 key workers, minimising the risk of spread of infection for both our staff and pupils
    • Getting all other children onto google classroom in order to maintain their learning – schools not out for Easter yet!
    • Our waste service, and other critical services, were adjusted in order to support a sustainable response throughout the pandemic
    • Activating our crisis helpline and aligning a fantastic bunch of colleagues to support the helpline on a 24/7 basis
    • Preparing for “shielding” arrangements for those most vulnerable
    • Capturing details of those who are in a position to volunteer to help the rescue and recovery effort.

    Our focus for this week:

    The Coronavirus Bill has now been enacted by the UK government (Coronavirus Bill) and we await to see whether there are any further elements enacted by the Scottish Government.  Last week saw the Police service start to use these powers and I would just take this opportunity to remind everyone to wear their ACC badges, if you’re travelling to and from work, across the city.  A number of the emergency powers directly relate to services provided by the council: registrar, crematoria and burials and colleagues in these areas will now be working through the implications of these powers.

    The crisis team are working very closely with health and social care partnership staff in readiness to support the needs of those citizens identified nationally as being in the “shielding “category. Lots of logistics to work through, both nationally, regionally and locally and once these become clearer, we may be looking to activate some of those who completed the temporary movement of staff questionnaire.

    Many of you might be concerned about continuing to perform a frontline, critical service. I want to reassure you that myself and the senior team have your welfare at the foremost of our considerations. As any further guidance on protective actions for frontline services emerges, we are committed to following this guidance and doing everything we can to support you to do your job safely.

    Please continue to “DO what you can, with what you have and where you can”

    Stay safe, we will come through this

    Angela

    Dear Colleagues,

    Following Monday’s announcements by the Prime Minister and the First Minister, we can be in no doubt that the pandemic is escalating in the UK and that these latest measures are a very deliberate attempt to reduce both the spread and impact. As I watched the news with my own family on Monday night, the seriousness of the situation certainly came home to my two children and my ageing mother. But hope was also present in our home, as I hope it was in yours, that this situation will come to an end.  Covid-19 will become a marker for us – we will talk about our lives and behaviours pre and post Covid-19 I think.  But in the long lives we will lead, and those of our children, these short-term measures are worth the temporary inconveniences being caused by the measures. Nonetheless, I recognised the anxiety and concern on the faces of my own family Monday night, as I’m sure you did with your own families.

    In anticipation of these measures, our Incident Management team has been working away in the background to identify which of our Council services are critical to the rescue and recovery efforts up to and through the anticipated surge of cases in the city. In addition we have identified services which must continue in order to ensure effective recovery and the ability of the organisation to keep running at this time. We have shared this list here for reference , but please be aware this will continue to be reviewed. This is not to say that other services are not important or won’t continue to be delivered, but we may need to think about how we prioritise our efforts over the coming weeks, and to take decisions to stand down non-critical services that cannot be done from home.

    These services, and the staff involved in their delivery, are critical and we must ensure as a collective that we can continue to provide delivery of them throughout the next period – the rescue and recovery effort depends on them. Many of these services are very specialist and it is incredibly difficult to simply move staff to create further capacity, in the time we have available. So our priority is to really lean in behind these services, our staff and the buildings from which these services are delivered and to ensure we build in as much resilience as possible.

    In pre-Covid –19 times, many colleagues across the council and the Health & Social Care Partnership were supporting our most vulnerable children, adults and families and of course, these colleagues must continue to support our most vulnerable.

    So we have 2 immediate priorities:

    1. ACC delivers the critical services required for the COVID-19 rescue and recovery efforts along with our business as usual responsibilities for supporting vulnerable people – meaning that colleagues involved in these services are critical.
    2. At the same, because of the approach to lock down, many of our usual services are not a priority and may not be required at this time. Therefore our priority is to consider how to make best use of the spare capacity we have within the organisation

    So there are 2 sides of a coin – one side with spare capacity and the other with not enough capacity. We need to work through this in as calm and careful a way as possible, whilst clearly wanting to embrace all your generous offers of support.

    Can you help the response?

    To try and help us take a methodical approach to this workforce planning and of course workforce protection, it would be incredibly helpful if we could build a picture of who can help and what your skills and circumstances are. I ask you to complete this questionnaire to record details such as your skills, qualifications and experience, as well as your personal circumstances including availability. Responses will be matched and considered against any urgent roles / tasks which arise across the organisation. We will also combine this data with data held in CoreHR to enable decision making.

    If you are already in a critical service area  undertaking one of the essential roles to the response, or delivering critical business continuity activity essential to the organisation or to recovery, we will likely ask you to stay as you are – focused on helping the response and the organisation to keep running. If you aren’t currently delivering a critical task for the response effort, or you feel you have extra capacity to give, and you’re willing and able to support the broader response of council, please volunteer. If you have any questions, please contact the Talent team at talent@aberdeencity.gov.uk

    There have also been questions arising since the announcement on Monday about who should remain attending their place of work and who should not. We have developed this decision tree to help with these decisions. If you have any doubts about whether you should be attending your place of work, refer to this guide, speak to your line manager and ask for support from employeerelations@aberdeencity.gov.uk. All the latest information for staff, including all communications, can be found on our coronavirus page on PeopleAnytime.

    I removed some of the anxiety of my own family on Monday night, by sharing with them the exemplar examples of efforts of our colleagues responding along with the efforts of partners too, of course. So let’s continue to support the COVID-19 rescue and recovery by continuing to act as one team, one council, one city at this time.

    Stay safe but also be hopeful that we will come through this.

    Angela

    Aberdeen City Council has launched a free crisis support line to prioritise support to its most vulnerable and at-risk customers during the coronavirus outbreak. 

    This service is for crisis only. It is for those who are hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak and unable to find the information they are looking for or unable to get help from their existing support networks, in these unprecedented times.

    The telephone number 0800 0304 713 will be staffed from 8am-6pm Monday to Friday from Tuesday 24 March until further notice.  

    Members of the emergency helpline team are ready to provide welfare and financial advice and support, including what to do if you are struggling to get food or pay bills.

    Similar advice and information are also available on issues such as housing, health, food, heating, finance and schools on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) page of the Council’s website, which is being regularly updated. 

    Following the latest Government Announcement, all staff who can do their work from home must do so.

    We are awaiting further Government advice on what is to be considered essential work. Based on guidance provided on critical sectors this is likely to include the majority of our critical public sector services and will require to be put into the context of our operations. This will be done as quickly as possible and in the meantime staff who cannot perform their role at home, we ask that you continue to attend your place of work as needed unless otherwise instructed.

    We will be in touch again shortly.

    Best wishes,
    Internal Comms

    Dear Colleagues

    At the start of a new week, I thought it would be useful to recap on where we are in terms of responding and adapting to the COVID-19 situation. In the space of a very short period of time, our lives have been altered very dramatically both in terms of our work life and our home lives.  We’ve been witnessing a developing public health crisis across the world with each government learning and adapting as the pandemic has spread from China, East Asia, the Middle East and Europe. 

    The coronavirus crisis is a story with an unclear ending at this point. What is clear is that the human impact is already tragic across the world. The next phase of the outbreak is profoundly uncertain. The prevalent narrative, at the moment is focused on pandemic but there is a possibility of a more optimistic outcome.  And the scientific community across the world are all focused on the development of an immunisation. 

    As the pandemic spread west, the UK and Scottish Government took significant measures in order to reduce the spread across the UK.  As an organisation, last week we prioritised our immediate response, following the advice and instructions of the UK and Scottish government  as well as following the pre-prepared major infectious diseases plan of the local resilience partnership. However, all crises are characterized by unfamiliarity and uncertainty and require elements of improvisation in order to ensure an effective response and we saw elements of that last week from all layers of government. And we should expect some elements of improvisation to continue as we work through the complexity of the situation we face 

      

    In our immediate response last week, 

    It was important to prioritise employee and customer safety and last week saw us take the  decision to close a number of facilities, including by the end of the week , the closure of all city schools. In addition, staff who fell within the definition of people within the “at risk groups” defined by government, were enabled to shift to remote working.   In recognition of the need to retain the ability of key public services to run throughout the pandemic, education colleagues moved quickly to provide care arrangements for key workers. Category 1 key workers have been prioritised in the first instance and colleagues will now respond to the needs of category 2 and category 3. I’d like to pass on the thanks of partners for the speed with which colleagues moved in order to have this provision in place for Monday. 

    On Friday, the leaders of all the political groups, agreed to suspend a significant number of council committees until August.  An urgent business committee will be convened to enable any necessary decision- making. Group leaders all expressed their thanks for the response from all our staff.

    To summarise last week, we focused on

    • Activating ACC’s  “nerve centre” to steer the organisation through this pandemic whilst actively participating in the Grampian multi agency “nerve centre” and adapting our governance structures of council. 
    • Workforce protection and planning
    • Supply chain stabilization
    • Customer protection and engagement 
    • Financial resilience of citizens, business and the council

    Our focus for this week:

    We must continue to focus on our immediate response, most of which is to ensure that we’re fully compliant with all the government’s advice whilst prioritising our approach to supporting vulnerable people and families, and supporting businesses. Subject to guidance from Scottish Government, we may be looking to expand the child care provision for key workers in category 1 as well as category 2 and 3.   Many of you will have seen the strong messaging from both governments about the public’s use of public spaces and dependent on how well that advice is taken on board, we may or may not see guidance regarding closing public spaces.  And health and social care colleagues are working through yesterday’s announcement by Scottish Government regarding the requirement for “shielding” of those with specific health conditions. 

    In order for us to be able to respond to the numerous actions required by the coronavirus pandemic, the legal powers of public bodies, in particular local government, have had to be reviewed. The UK Government has decided to do this by the creation of new legislation, to make sure the UK’s response is consistent and effective.  The Coronavirus Bill has now been published (Coronavirus Bill) This will apply to Scotland, and it’s been drafted by the UK, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments working together. We expect that this Bill will be made law early next week.

    The proposals set out in the Bill will significantly enhance the ability of public bodies across the UK to provide an effective response to the coronavirus pandemic. These proposals will have a major impact on many areas of our Council’s business.  The Council will be expected to do as much as it can to operate as normal during the ongoing situation. Many of the powers contained in the Bill will only be introduced where necessary – and may never be used. Our legal team are working closely with all our services and with the Scottish Government, to support on any changes that come from the Bill.  

    Whilst we’re prioritising our immediate response, we are also trying to anticipate how this pandemic will develop, including how long it will run. We will be accessing the expertise of our own local public health experts within NHS Grampian as well as the national experts from within both governments.  I will keep you briefed on our approach and priorities on a weekly basis. 

    In addition to this our priority as an organisation is to maintain critical services wherever possible. That means that over the next while, we may ask you, provided you are fit and able to work at this time, to support different teams and undertake alternative duties to support these critical services. Our People and Organisational Development team will shortly be in touch soon about how you can support these critical services and how you can provide the information needed for this to be organised. 

    I know I’m asking a lot of you at this time. I fully understand that you will of course, be trying to manage the impact of all the public health restrictions on your own family and daily life, whilst trying to continue to deliver the critical services we provide to the city.  It is important that we work together as one team and it is important to support each other as we each wrestle with the conflicting demands of protecting our families and serving our city. 

    These are unprecedented times, and I want to thank you again for your continuing support.

    We will come through this.

    Stay Safe

    Angela

    At the Urgent Business Committee on Friday 20th March, Members agreed the following arrangements to be put in place:- 

    All Full Council, Committee, Sub-Committee and Working Group meetings are cancelled from 23 March to 21 August 2020 inclusive, with the exception of:- 

    • Planning Development Management Committee; and 
    • Appeals Sub-Committee, Business Rates Appeals Sub-Committee, Community Asset Transfer Review Sub-Committee and Licensing Sub-Committee.

    Instead, Urgent Business Committee meetings will be arranged as required between 23 March and 21 August 2020 to determine business of an urgent nature which would have been otherwise reported to Council, Committee or Sub-Committees. ​​​​​​​

    Chief Officers have considered the business planner and provided a list of business critical reports, however if you feel that there is a business critical need for your report to be considered, please discuss this with your Chief Officer in the first instance.  Likewise, if there is an item of business not currently on the planner which may need to be considered as a matter of urgency, please discuss this with your Chief Officer before advising Committee Services. 

    Committee Services will be in contact with report authors who currently have reports on the business planner to advise them of the next steps. 

    The Chief Officer – Governance, in consultation with Group Leaders, will review whether Full Council, Committee, Sub-Committee and Working Group meetings should proceed from 24 August 2020.  

    Hello,

    To help reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus many of us have now started to self-isolate or work from home on a more regular basis.   

    During this time It’s really important for us to be mindful of our mental health and to take every precaution we can to remain safe.  We will all have moments throughout this this where we could become more anxious and worried than usual and we’ve therefore been working hard to pull together some good working practices and online mental health resources for you to call upon when you need them.

    I have now been working from home since last week with my child in tow so have a little bit of a heads up on what’s this is like (pandemonium!) but with the introduction of Teams (which suspiciously seems to have arrived at just the right time thanks to our hardworking colleagues 😉) it’s actually been working very well.  We had our first virtual team meeting yesterday and were able to catch up with our Chief Officer, Isla Newcombe so that we can all keep up to date with the latest priorities for our Cluster, and this worked really well.

    Here’s some top tips on how to keep yourself grounded:

    • LIMIT THE NEWS to 2 or 3 times a day
    • STAY INFORMED from trusted sources
    • STAY CONNECTED during self-isolation
    • AVOID BURNOUT by accessing fresh air and sunlight
    • ACKNOWLEDGE the uncertainty 
    • PULL BACK reassure yourself
    • LET GO of negative thoughts and feelings
    • EXPLORE being in the moment

    For those with access to SharePoint you’ll be able to find regularly updated information regarding the virus itself along with good tips on keeping well and working from home here.

    And for those without access to SharePoint, you can find all the same information available for you on our People Anytime site here.

    It’s really important for us all to stay connected during this unprecedented time of so much uncertainty so remember to keep in contact with your colleagues if you can and in the meantime stay positive and use the wellbeing resources if you need them

    Stay well and kind regards

    Fiona

    Dear colleagues,

     

    Please be aware that the decision has been taken today to close all libraries from 5pm tonight until further notice, in order to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

    All working arrangements remain under review to keep our people and city as safe as possible during this difficult time.

    • For a full and up-to-date list of temporary venue closures, please see here.

    Guidance has today been shared with managers on temporary provisions for flexible/homeworking, special leave and sickness absence in relation to Coronavirus. Please ensure that any absence, self-isolation or changes to normal working arrangements, including working from home, are recorded in CoreHR. If you have queries on any of these speak to your line manager in the first instance or refer to the pages below.  

    • For the latest guidance and information for staff on Coronavirus, see People Anytime – accessible from all devices, anywhere, anytime.

    Important updates will continue to be shared through all staff emails and on our Intranet and People Anytime.

    To make sure we keep each other safe and connected please ensure all your personal details are up to date in CoreHR.

    Best wishes,

    Internal Comms

    Dear Colleagues

    From the end of today schools across the country will be closing until further notice.

    It is, however, vital that Aberdeen City Council continue to provide essential services across the city. As such, where we can, we are making childcare places available for key workers.

    340 childcare places are being offered to ‘key workers’ during the school closure period. We are also working on plans to increase this number should demand be greater.

    In the first instance these places will be offered to key workers within the category 1 definition by Scottish Government today. These are identified as:

    · Health care workers directly supporting COVID response, and associated staff;

    · Health and Care Workers supporting life threatening emergency work, as well as critical primary and community care provision;

    · Energy suppliers (small numbers identified as top priority already)

    · Staff providing childcare / learning for other category 1 staff.

    Provision will be supported by Education and Childcare Services staff with appropriate qualifications and training and offered in a range of locations across the City.

    Pending final sign off by the Care Inspectorate, we hope this service could be operational by Monday 23rd March.

    Key workers should apply for a place by completing this form- Emergency childcare provision.

    Integrated Children & Family Services will prioritise these offers and make contact with you following allocation of places and confirm offer and placement of provision.

    Any worker who is not Category 1 as defined above but who is one the list of Key Workers provided by UK Government will be regarded as a category 2 priority given the limited number of spaces currently available. If you fall under this category you can also make an application, however, priority will be given to category 1 parents/guardians in the first instance.

    Please also be aware that registrations should be received by 2.30pm today (March 20th) for those that wish to start on Monday, however this will be a rolling application process so we will continue to take applications for days beyond that.

    If a place is not made available to you at this time, please be assured that ongoing review of applications will take place to enable us to support as many key workers as possible.

    Please complete the form or email contact our Education Support Team for further information. BuildingCapacityTeam@aberdeencity.gov.uk

    Regards

    Angela Scott

    Chief Executive

    There are important updates for everyone to be aware of – as we work to reduce the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) – which impacts the way we interact with customers.

    In all our customer interactions, to prevent further spread of the virus and to protect employee and public health, face to face contact is being minimised as much as possible.  Where face to face contact is necessary, discussion is taking place with the customer in advance of the appointment so that a risk assessment can be undertaken.  Customers will be encouraged to attend appointments alone and not to attend if high risk.

    Frontline staff have been briefed on the importance of distancing and a 2m rule-of-thumb is  being taken with customers and colleagues, whenever possible.

    Handshaking has ceased.

    Alcohol free hand sanitisers have been distributed across frontline locations and procedures are in place to clean self service facilities frequently.

    Further to Angela’s last message about temporary closures of many of our venues, we are now closing the Corporate Reception of Marischal College.

    Corporate Reception (on your left as you enter Marischal College from Broad Street) is now closed until further notice.

    We need everyone to now use an alternative entrance (Queen Street or Littlejohn Street) when entering Marischal College and avoid entering/exiting via the Customer Service Centre.  The Corporate Reception area will only be available to staff in an emergency exit situation.

    Where essential for a visitor to meet at Marischal College, they should use the Queen Street entrance.  You will need to sign in your visitor using the sign-in sheet and issue a visitors badge (available on the ID-Badge counter).

    Escorting your visitor out of the building is important. You must accompany them back to the Queen Street entrance when leaving Marischal College.

    Remember to ask your guest to sign out and to return their visitors badge.

    Dear Colleague

    Today the First Minister announced that it is inevitable that mainstream schools will shut. The assumption is that they will be closed by the end of the week. What’s more, the First Minister has said that she cannot promise that schools will reopen before summer.

    As a parent, I appreciate the disruption this may cause for colleagues who have children in city schools and further afield. I also very much appreciate the uncertainty this creates around future domestic arrangements.

    However, I think I speak for everyone when I say that with respect to schools the priority must be the health and welfare our children, and that must come first when deciding the next steps. In particular, we need to give thought to how we protect the most vulnerable members of our communities and enable the ongoing delivery of vital services.

    The Council will continue to follow government guidance, and we await an update tomorrow. As I write colleagues in education and other services are working on measures to keep children and indeed the wider community safe in what is an evolving situation. We are also looking for ways as an employer to support staff who have children of school age in the weeks ahead.

    These are unprecedented times, not just for families, but for everyone. I thank you for your continuing support will update you when we have more details.

    Dear Colleagues,

    To prevent further spread of the virus and to protect employee and public health, we have taken the decision today to close a number of our buildings to the general public.

    *Update: all libraries will close from 5pm on Friday 20th March*

    A limited number of frontline offices will need to remain open for the time being, so that we can continue to deliver services to those who need us most. The Council will continue to monitor and review the situation in response to evolving government guidance and business critical needs. Updates on re-openings or further changes will be announced when available.

    You can see here the full list of Venues closing (correct as at 17.30 on Wednesday 18 March) and up to date information will be available on the Aberdeen City Council website and our Intranet pages. All impacted colleagues are being informed and alternative working arrangements are being put in place.

    The Council will also be cancelling lets on all Council buildings, including schools, community learning centres and civic rooms until the end of April, when the situation will be reviewed. The Council meantime is suspending new bookings.

    Schools are expected to be closed by the end of the week in response to the latest Scottish Government advice.

    Out of School Care provision operating within primary school premises will also close. This includes breakfast provision, after school care provision and holiday provision.

    To enable Catering Services to maintain provision of statutory school meals we have had to take the decision to close these facilities with immediate effect. You will already be aware that the staff catering services at Town House and Marischal College are to close in the next financial year, having been selected as an option by Council at the budget setting meeting on 3rd March 2020.

    We would like to reassure everyone that we are doing everything we can to reduce the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on our ability to deliver services, whilst also protecting your health and that of the public. We are working hard to ensure the critical and essential services that make a difference to communities every day continue to operate.

    I thank you for your continuing support will update you when we have more details.

    Angela

    Dear Colleagues,

    We each have a vital role to play in supporting the slow in the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus) – as an organisation we will do this through the implementation of government guidance which we will continue to implement, and also through the continued practices of good hygiene in and out of work. We must recognise however, that this is a very dynamic situation and government’s advice will continue to develop. As you know, the multi-agency partnership resilience structures and plans are robust and well tested and prepared for incidents like this one. We approach this current incident prepared but ready to adapt.

    Our organisational contribution to this situation is to balance the needs of supporting the multi-agency partnership’s response along with maintaining the delivery, as far as possible, of vital services for the people and place of Aberdeen. At times like this our community will be looking to us to demonstrate a measured and proportionate response which focuses on protecting those who are most vulnerable as well as maintaining critical services and business continuity. We will likely need to change our approach to how we work – whether that is through consideration of how we interact in an office setting, through the increased use of home working or by taking on alternative duties that help to reduce or remove contact with others.

    As we face these new challenges as a local authority and a deliverer of crucial services I would ask you to support each other and work as one team, to work flexibly, and to stay up to date with guidance issued by myself and by my senior management team which may require you to continue to adapt. Let’s live the Guiding Principles and the behaviours we agreed within our behaviour framework. I know I can rely on you to support our overarching purpose which is to ensure that the people and place of Aberdeen prosper, but in the event of harm happening, to be there to aid the rescue and recovery of our citizens from that harm.

    As we ensure that we play our part in meeting the needs of the city, please be reassured that your health and well-being are at the centre of my mind and our approach.

    I’ll be keeping in regular contact over the coming days and weeks given the dynamic nature of this incident.

    Outlined below, is the detail of the approach we are taking. If you have any questions, please direct these in the first instance to your line manager.

    It is important that we all take care of ourselves, our families, our work teams and the people we serve at this challenging time.

    Regards

    Angela

    Following revised government advice released this morning to the general public, please be aware of the following and from an Aberdeen City Council perspective, work with your manager to take the necessary steps to implement the actions below.

    Scottish Government Advice:

    To slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) the general public are being asked to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary social contact. Those who cannot work from home should continue to go to work unless advised by their employer or if they display symptoms.

    People over 70 and those who have high risk and underlying health conditions are being strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and significantly reduce unnecessary social contact.

    The advice is that people should:

    · minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings, including religious congregations and smaller gatherings such as restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, cinemas and gyms avoid using public transport as much as possible

    · work from home when possible

    · follow the latest health and travel advice, and follow basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching their face and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing

    People showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus should stay at home for seven days and only contact NHS 111 or their local GP if their symptoms worsen during that period.

    Members of a household where someone has suspected symptoms should stay at home for 14 days.

    This package of necessary measures comes into force with immediate effect.

    Schools will remain open for the time being, however the situation will be consistently monitored and reviewed depending on the spread of the infection.

    These measures will be kept under constant review by the Scottish and UK Government as efforts are made to slow down the spread of the infection.

    Aberdeen City Council Approach, in light of the government’s advice:

    ‘At Risk’ Colleagues

    · Anyone with an underlying medical condition, who is over 70 or who is pregnant, should speak to their line manager and implement any necessary adjustments to working practices aimed at avoiding contact with other people.

    · This may include working from home or working in isolation. A full list of those considered at risk as well as a description of social distancing can be found here.

    Increased Home Working and Adjusted Working Practices

    · Chief Officers will work with management teams to continue to develop and implement business continuity arrangements which are in line with most up to date Scottish Government guidance and remove unnecessary contact whilst continuing to deliver services. This includes ensuring that those with underlying health conditions have the option to work from home as well as identifying other teams or individuals who could also work from home.

    · Your Chief Officer and their management team will give you further information on the availability and prioritisation of home working this week.

    · Now that Microsoft teams is available to all, the use of this should be prioritised for our meetings.

    · Places of work can be varied to reduce social contact, meetings can be changed to phone calls or the use of Microsoft Teams and social distancing.

    · Good hygiene practices when in and out of the office need to be maintained.

    Recording Absences

    · Sickness absence or self-isolation as a result of COVID-19 must be recorded in CoreHR – new fields have been added for this purpose.

    · When working from home you should maintain regular contact with your manager and other team members.

    Manager comms

    A set of guidance has been issued to be used in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak within ACC.  

    Please review the guidance on People Anytime here

    You can also view the document below but please bear in mind that for the most accurate and up to date Coronavirus advice you should visit People Anytime. 

    Dear Colleagues  

    Please find below a summary of some of the recent COVID-19 guidance updates. 

    Firstly, following the announcement from the Scottish Government yesterday you will have heard reference to plans for introducing regulations to extend the mandatory use of face coverings in indoor communal settings –including,  staff canteens and corridors in workplaces. We are awaiting further guidance on this and in the meantime, we will begin to roll this out across our buildings.  

    Existing guidance on the use of face coverings at ACC can be found here 

    ACC have also published a COVID-19 Outbreak plan (link) which sets out what to do if there is an outbreak in your area or in the organisation as a whole.  Please read and familiarise yourself with the plan.  If you have any questions, please send them to employeerelations@aberdeencity.gov.uk 

     

    Please also be aware of the following: 

     

    Test and Protect 

    • 2 m physical distancing should be maintained in workplaces, including during work activities, training, travelling, breaks times, etc. 
    • Any non-compliance, such as staff not maintaining physical distancing/hand washing / sanitising, or inadequate allowance for 2m distancing in a work area, , etc. will be highlighted to line managers, Service managers, and now Chief Officers.  Managers will be required to feed back on the action which has been taken in response.  
    • If you have spent 15 minutes or more with someone  – at a distance of less than 2m- this will be defined as a close contact and may result in a contact by the track and trace team. Close contact also applies if you have been with someone for 1 minute at a distance of 1 metre or less.  
    • If you, or one of your team, feel they may be in the above situation, please review the Test and protect decision sheet.  This is help you decide what to do next. 

     

    If you require advice or assistance with the physical distancing protocols in place within your service, please contact the Health and Safety team on hsw@aberdeencity.gov.uk 

     

    Please encourage your team members to download the Protect Scotland app.  You can download from your usual app supplier. 

    • Special leave arrangements: During COVID-19 we have allowed up to 14 days paid special leave to support parents/carers who have been unable to a Covid-19 related disruption.  This provision has ceased, and we will revert to our standard special leave arrangements. You will now be expected to use other forms of leave such as annual leave, unpaid special leave and flexi leave – full details available at here. There may be some circumstances in which paid special leave is still available, details of which are available on the link above. 
    • Payment to supply teachers and relief workers:   Please read the latest FAQs  for advice on payments to supply staff.   

     

    Please keep checking our People Anytime for updates to guidance. These pages are updated on a regular basis.  

     

    Stay safe  

    On the 19th March, a lifetime ago now, I wrote to you thanking you for the calmness and resilience you had shown to that point in the response to COVID-19. Nearly 6 months to the day, I write again to repeat those thanks as we now begin navigating our way into the recovery phase of this pandemic.

    In that earlier message I indicated that we were going to face a very dynamic and changing situation with continued uncertainty and ambiguity potentially for some time and that we would  need to steer a path through it, both for the organisation and the city more broadly.

    I also said that I was very confident about our collective ability to steer a way forward because I was already seeing our Guiding Principles in action:

    • One Team, One Council, One city
    • We care about our purpose, our organisation, and our people
    • We trust each other and take responsibility
    • We value each other and recognise

    I set out that our leadership challenge was to think and act across 5 horizons:

    1. Resolve – to address the immediate challenges that COVID-19 represents to us as a council and to city and its citizens
    2. Resilience – to address broader resilience issues during the virus-related shutdowns and economic knock on effects.
    3. Return – to create detailed plans to return to business to scale quickly as COVID-19 situation resolves
    4. Re-imagination – to reimagine the next normal post COVID-19
    5. Reform – to be clear about how our regulatory, legal, and health protection environments may shift.

    And over the course of the last 6 months, I shared with you how I was trying to cope with both the ambiguity and uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation by visualising 3 big boards in front of me every day. And that these boards were covered with post-its and these post-it is were repositioned as things change. The 3 boards said:

    1. What we know
    2. What we do not know
    3. When we will know.

    So, 6 months later…

    What I know is that this organisation has a very strong, capable, and committed leadership forum

    • who have ensured that we stayed true to our core purpose in our response
    • and valued and supported staff to cope with the challenging situation
    •  and at the same time focused on the return, re-imagine and reform horizon

    ​​​​​​​Everything I asked of you and more. 

    I’m very proud to say that my predictions about our collective ability to steer a way forward have come true and whilst the threat of COVID-19 remains, I’m equally happy to predict with confidence, that we will navigate this next phase well for the organisation and the city.

    For an accountant, words are not my natural forte and throughout these messages to you, I’ve tried to find the right words to capture the situation we’ve found ourselves in and to offer some support to you. I hope the messages have been of some help.

    As we move to this next “new normal” phase, it is right that the intensity and rhythm of our internal communications will change and so I use this last COVID message to restate my thanks to all of you for your invaluable contribution to the leadership of the organisation over the last 6 months.

    Please watch the “thanks” video embedded in my blog to all staff today – the achievements featured in it are yours and the thanks expressed are to you.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Dear Managers,

    Yesterday, the First Minister announced that we will remain in Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s route map until 1st of October, the next review date, and advised that we are likely to remain in Phase 3 for some time yet.

    This means that working from home remains the default position and services that are currently stood down will continue to be until they have undertaken the reinstatement process.

    As a manager, your people may now be looking to the future and planning their time and work environment to accommodate this news. With this in mind, we bring you the following updates to share with your teams.

    Managing Annual Leave

    Due to the unpredictable nature of local lockdowns, many of your team members, including yourself, may have had to cancel holidays and may also be reluctant to use up annual leave allowance whilst options are more limited. Please do however encourage your colleagues to take proportionate amounts of leave throughout the year, both for their own wellbeing and to prevent a backlog of annual leave requests towards the tail end of the year. It’s important that as leaders we model this also by taking a break ourselves and using our leave. Find out more here: What is the Council’s approach to Annual Leave during Covid-19?

    Request for office space / equipment on the grounds of Health & Safety

    If you have a team member who is struggling with their physical or mental wellbeing while working from home, there is support and guidance available.  This includes a checklist for each of these scenarios and an escalation process to follow if you have done all of this and as a result need to request either equipment or office space.  This needs to be completed in full by the employee’s line manager, and a separate form should be completed for each employee that this applies to.

    You can also find guidance online for setting up your workstation from home to maintain physical and mental wellbeing. Find it all here: Working from home safely.

    Additionally, if a team member is temporarily unable to undertake key tasks from home, for example due to a failure in technology, and requires urgent desk allocation, please contact @Jennifer Strachan or @Alastair Reid from Corporate Landlord.

    Protect Scotland – the app

    As you may have seen already, a new app for mobile phones has been launched by the Scottish Government to enhance the current Test & Protect system, which has already improved our ability to manage local outbreaks. As a manager, please lead by example by downloading the app and encourage your team members to do the same: https://www.protect.scot/

    COVID age calculator

    If you are a manager of staff who are already back in the workplace (be it the office, van or depot, in other words, anyone not working from home) then please encourage each staff member in this position to complete a COVID age questionnaire using the Scottish Government’s COVID age calculator. Then have a conversation with them about their results, including what this might mean for keeping them safe at work. For example, you may have a staff member who is 30 but has a much higher COVID age; this puts them at increased risk and they may need enhanced protection. This is particularly recommended for any staff members who are:

    • Returning to work after shielding
    • Returning to normal duties after COVID-19 related restrictions
    • Returning to the workplace after working from home
    • Concerned about a particular vulnerability to COVID-19.

    Find the COVID age calculator here on Coronavirus – staying safe while working

     

    Staff are then asked to record their COVID-19 age in Core HR. The Scottish Government have made some changes to the scoring system this week, so please can you ask any staff who have done this already, to revisit and check that their score remains the same. This would include any additional controls you agree with them, if required.

     

    Mental Health & Wellbeing – Virtual Sessions

    We’ve partnered with Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) to bring you a full programme of mental health training and help you to support your teams. There are two short virtual training sessions for up to 12 employees on each session on the following topics:

    Building Resilience
    Course duration: 1.5hr

    Maintaining Wellbeing
    Course duration: 1.5hr

    This session: Begins by looking at the relationship between wellbeing and resilience, discusses one definition of resilience, what it means, and the key elements included. Group activities on ways to build resilience. A take home workbook which includes individual, resilience-building exercises for participants to do in their own time

    This session: Begins by looking at creating a mentally healthy work-from-home environment. Stress- what this looks like for participants, stress vs pressure, and ways to manage stress. Sources of support to maintain wellbeing during lockdown, including videos, websites, apps and handouts. A take home workbook which includes individual, reflective exercises for participants to do in their own time

    There is a waiting list for both opportunities so that we can gauge interest and plan the programme ahead.  Please promote this opportunity within your teams and ask anyone interested to complete and submit the online form.  

    We have received very positive feedback about the series of Wellbeing Wednesday live mental health webinars. If you missed them or wish to watch again for ideas on supporting yourself and your team, you can still catch them here.

     

    Remember and remind your teams:

    As we continue to live with the virus, it is important that we follow the guidance laid out in the Scottish Government FACTS campaign: 

    • F – Face coverings in enclosed spaces – shops, public transport or anywhere else inside that physical distancing might be more difficult.
    • A – Avoid all crowded places. Indoors, obviously, but outdoors as well. 
    • C – Clean your hands and hard surfaces regularly.
    • T – Two metre distancing remains the overall advice. 
    • and S – Self isolate, and book a test, if you have any of the symptoms of COVID.

    You can find details of the test and protect and what to do if you are contacted by the contact trace team here. 

    All Coronavirus guidance can be found on People Anytime. This is updated on a regular basis in line with any Government updates so please ensure you check the site on a regular basis. Wider Aberdeen City updates are also available on the external ACC website. 

    Stay safe.

    Sent on behalf of the Health and Safety Team

     

    Dear Colleagues

    This email provides advance notice to line managers of an all staff comms requesting each employee to complete an individual risk assessment to assess their vulnerability to COVID-19. Please note that, if staff are homeworking and will continue to work from home, this assessment does not need to be completed until they are likely to return to their usual workplace.  

     

    Please review the summary below and the People Anytime pages in order to support your team members with this process. The guidance and forms are available on the Safety at Work page of People Anytime. 

     

    Scottish Government has recently issued guidance on the COVID-19 risk assessment process for staff. This should include both a workplace and individual risk assessment. This recognises the combined risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace and an individual’s clinical vulnerability to the virus. 

    The guidance is particularly relevant to the following groups:  

    • staff members who are returning to work after shielding
    • staff who are returning to normal duties after COVID-19 related restrictions
    • staff returning to the workplace after working from home
    • anyone who has a concern about a particular vulnerability to COVID-19.

     

    You can find advice here on how to assess a worker’s vulnerability .  

     

    Employers are required to: 

    • Complete a general workplace risk assessment and implement measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 as much as possible. These are in place for all critical services and are required for all services proposing to reinstate.  
    • Support our staff to use the COVID-19 age Occupational Risk Assessment Tool to identify the staff member’s vulnerability level. This is measured as low, moderate, high or very high. This can be achieved by the manager and employee completing the form together or by an employee completing it and either sharing the form or advising their manager of their COVID-19 age. A word version of the form can be found here 
    • Follow this up with a constructive conversation with each employee about how they can do their job safely.  

     

    If you have any queries about these assessments or the results of them, please contact HSW@aberdeencity.gov.

     

    Dear Colleagues  

    Following our email yesterday, which you can read on at Coronavirus comms , we would like to take this opportunity to remind you to offer support to any member of staff who may have concerns about the local Aberdeen restrictions.  

    As announced yesterday, the local restrictions remain in place for the time being, with reviews to take place on Sunday (23 Aug) and again on (Wednesday 26 Aug). It is hoped that, following Wednesday’s review, some of the restrictions may start to be relaxed; and we will let you know if any changes do take place.  

    Guidance for all staff is available to view on local restrictions including specific advice for managers on the Managers FAQs 

    Understandably some staff may have concerns about these continued restrictions -please reassure them that- as they go about their role for ACC -we are doing all we can to keep them safe.  

    As a reminder, these restrictions apply only to travel for leisure purposes.   Travel for work, education and medical appointments is still permitted.   

    If members of your team need to visit homes in the city as part of their job role, Scottish Government advice is that this is not affected by the current guidance.  

    It is important that we ensure all relevant risk assessments are kept under review and shared with staff and that guidance on physical distancing, hygiene and face coverings is adhered to.  If you need any advice in these risk assessments, please contact the Health and Safety team by email on HSW@aberdeencity.gov.uk 

    It is more important than ever that we also look after the wellbeing of our teams at this time. 

    Guidance on mental health and wellbeing is available for all staff on People Anytime and  a managers guide to supporting mental health is also available.  

    In particular, those who have recently come out of shielding may have some anxiety at this time and again we should be supporting them as best we can using the guidance and advice provided. 

    Stay Safe  

    Dear Colleagues

     

    Yesterday’s announcement extended the local Aberdeen restrictions for another 7 days, with no changes to the restrictions themselves. A full list of these restrictions can be found at Local Advice and Measures on the Scottish Government website.   

    Specific guidance for staff on these restrictions is available at Coronavirus restrictions in Aberdeen on People Anytime, including advice for those who have recently come out of shielding, for staff who need to visit peoples’ homes and for  test and protect.  Aberdeen City advice can be found on the external ACC website.  

    Alongside guidance on the restrictions, you can also find wider advice and guidance, at  Coronavirus FAQs. These are updated on a regular basis and in line with the latest guidance from the Scottish Government. Please ensure you check the site regularly to stay up to date.  

    Recent updates include: 

    • Face Coverings – guidance on the use of face coverings can be found on Staying Safe at WorkThe page also includes details of any exemptions to wearing a covering.  

    If your service is impacted by the increased use of face coverings, a supply will be made available for your teams. Spare face coverings will also be made available for members of the public that have forgotten or are visiting unprepared.  Service managers can arrange for a supply of these through Ewan Aitken, Category Manager, Commercial and Procurement Services on  eaitken@aberdeencity.gov.uk  

     

    Service managers should also review any impact the use of face covering has on their risk assessments, amending them if necessary and contacting any impacted staff directly. 

    • Wellbeing – at times like these, when many of you may be working remote from your teams, it important that we check in with our team members, even those you are not currently working with, to make sure they are ok. The extension of the Aberdeen restrictions may be causing anxiety and the tragic events in Stonehaven may be impacting our team staff.  It is important that we know this so we can help.  

    Regular check ins with our team – either by video, phone or even email – offer us the chance to help when we are needed. 

    Guidance on mental health and wellbeing is available for all staff on People Anytime and  a managers guide to supporting mental health is also available. 

     

    Additional guidance on the restrictions can be found at Local Restrictions and we are updating the this and the wider Coronavirus FAQs on here on an ongoing basis. 

    In the meantime, if you have any questions on risk assessments or the use of face coverings please contact the Health and Safety team on  HSW@aberdeencity.gov.uk, or for wider COVID queries please email employeerelations@aberdeencity.gov.uk 

    Stay Safe

    Isla

    Last week saw Aberdeen as the UK focal point of the global pandemic, as public health measures were re-introduced across the city in response to a spike in the number of local positive cases. The reintroduction of these measures is a timely reminder that the fight against this virus is not over.

    In my message to all staff, I put on record my thanks to Andrew Morrison and his Environmental Health team for the huge amount of work they have been doing across the city to support businesses to comply with relevant sectoral guidance as well as working with partnership organisations to enforce the recent measures.

    ​​​​​​​I came across this quote from Teddy Roosevelt and thought it very apt, not only for Andrew and his team but perhaps for all of us:

    Dear Colleagues  

     

    Following our email yesterday,  which you can read on at Coronavirus comms , we would like to take this opportunity to remind you to offer support any staff who may concerns.  

    Despite the new restrictions on visiting other peoples’ home, many of our staff will still need to visit homes in city as part of their job role.  Scottish Government advice is that this is not affected by the current guidance.  

    Understandably this may be causing some concern amongst our teams.  

    As we discussed yesterday it is important that we ensure all relevant risk assessments are kept under review and shared with staff and that guidance on physical distancing, hygiene and face coverings are adhered to.  

    It is important that we also look after the wellbeing of our teams at this time. 

    Guidance on mental health and wellbeing is available for all staff on People Anytime and  a managers guide to supporting mental health is also available.  

    Those who have recently come out of shielding may also have some anxiety at this time and again we should be supporting them where we can. 

     Thanks and stay safe 

    Following yesterday’s announcement from the Scottish Government about the local COVID restrictions introduced in the Aberdeen City area, please find below some guidance for managers on visiting customers homes. 

    Yesterday’s announcement put restrictions on visiting other households however, we would like to clarify that these restrictions do not apply to businesses or organisations which need to visit customers. 

    Over the past few weeks we have been working through the reinstatement process to ensure that any service considered essential can continue to be provided safely.  

    This includes services which may need to visit homes or meet with customers. 

    If you or a team member do need to visit a customer, please ensure the appropriate risk assessments are carried out and that these are kept under continual review.  It is also important to share these with staff – particularly at a time when they are entering homes in the city and might be feeling vulnerable. 

    The new guidance also put restrictions on travel for leisure or recreation but does allow travel for essential purposes that cannot be done from home (e.g. work, educational or medical).  

    Additional guidance on the restrictions can be found at Local Restrictions and we are updating the guidance and FAQs on here on an ongoing basis. 

    In the meantime if you have any questions on risk assessments please contact the Health and Safety Lead, Colin Leaver, or for wider COVID queries please email employeerelations@aberdeencity.gov.uk 

     

    Thanks and Stay Safe 

    Fraser  

    Dear Colleagues

    Following the Scottish Government yesterday please find below some additional updates which have been made to our Covid-19 advice.   

    All our advice and guidance can be found on the People Anytime coronavirus pages and manager specific guidance can be found on the Manager FAQs page.   These pages are updated in line with government guidelines on a regular basis so please make sure you check this to ensure you are up to date with any changes. 

    The site includes important information on a range of related topics including annual leave, staying safe while working and how to make the most out of working from home. You can also find copies of all the communications and emails sent to staff and managers during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

    This week we would like to highlight the following:  

    • Shielding –  from 1 August shielding in Scotland will be paused. This means that the same guidance will apply as the rest of Scotland and individuals will be able to return to work with strict physical distancing and hygiene measures in place.  

      Although no changes will be made to the current arrangements until a discussion has been held between manager and employee, guidance has been developed to assist your discussions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your employee and a successful return to work. 

    • Test and Protect is Scotland’s approach to implementing the test, trace, isolate, support strategy and is a public health measure designed to break chains of transmission of COVID-19 in the community. The NHS will test people who have symptoms, trace those who may have become infected by spending time in close contact with someone who tests positive, and then support those close contacts to self-isolate.  That means, if they have the virus, they are less likely to pass it on to others. Testing is available for all Aberdeen City Council employees and they can request a test through the People Anytime Test and Protect page. 
    • Anyone who tests positive or displays symptoms must now self-isolate for 10 days. Managers should also be aware that this may have an impact on any risk assessments you have for your service. These may need to be amended.  
    • Mental Health:  While some employees have adapted to our news ways of working during COVID, many others may be finding the lack of routine and contact extremely stressful.  As we continue to advise the majority of our workforce to work from home, we need to ensure our colleagues are all OK.  The isolation that working from home may bring and the inevitable stress brought by COVID itself might be causing a negative impact on their mental health. As a manager it is important that we do what we can to lessen this impact. 

    To help you manage any issues within your team, we’ve collated a step by step, best practice guide to help you provide appropriate support to these team members. You can find this guide here.   

    • Staying safe at work: additional information has been added to the Staying Safe at Work pages which include updated and critical information on the necessity of undertaking risk assessments, the use of PPE and social distancing and hygiene at work.   

     

    • Reinstatement of Services – If reinstatement is approaching for your service, your Chief Officer will speak with you and your team.  Chief Officers are working with the Reinstatement of Services Working Group to ensure that we do this in the safest possible way. In the meantime, you can find out more about our reinstatement process here.  Alongside guidance on the process, the page includes a number of videos on how we are reinstating services across the council as well as instructions on how to stay safe at work.  

    If you work within a previously stepped-down service and are looking to reinstate your service, or if you require access to a closed building, please contact your Chief Officer in the first instance.  

    If you need advice on a small change to your working practices, please speak to the Corporate Health and Safety Team who can assist with the process and advise if you need to submit your request to working group.  Email them on hsw@aberdeencity.gov.uk. 

    If staff can work from home they should continue to do so, but if anyone is required to work from a council building then the proper risk assessments must be in place. The Health and Safety Team will be able to advise on these. 

    For those who are continuing to work from home advice and guidance is available on our Getting the Most Out of Working From Home pages.

    Stay safe  

    Our business conditions have changed dramatically over the last three months and some of us will have found it easier than others to adapt to this new environment. Over the last few weeks, you may have found yourself feeling anxious, finding your brain not processing things quickly enough and perhaps finding yourself clinging tightly to how we worked pre COVID-19. At the same time, of course, having to cope with changed home lives, the worry and anxiety of supporting your own families, managing childcare, home schooling (thank god for BBC Bitesize!) and worrying about your own family’s health. And amidst all of that, trying to work from home using tech that perhaps you were unfamiliar with. These feelings are entirely understandable, especially given we did not anticipate COVID-19, perhaps do not fully understand COVID-19 and don’t feel in control.

    You may be noticing a disparity between what you know you should be saying and doing to be successful, versus what you are doing and saying now. The traditional idea that as a leader, you need to have all the answers, rather than being a good facilitator, being honest about what you do and don’t know and willing to seek help from others – as an expert in your particular field, this may all be feeling rather uncomfortable.

    We are in a period of rapid change and perhaps the approaches you adopted pre-COVID-19 which made you successful, are not working for you at this time. Perhaps you are without any past experiences that you can draw on and therefore feel unequipped. This is a completely normal way to react and I too, have been anxious and fearful about my own ability to respond appropriately. Nonetheless, it is important to overcome our own fears. And, importantly, to recognise the enormity of what you have achieved together during this period

    There are times in leadership when the going is tough, and when we feel ill-equipped for the task in front of us. It is important at these times to recognise our own feelings, to motivate ourselves to manage our emotions within ourselves and in our relationships with others. It’s also important to seek help and input and keep challenging ourselves to grow and adapt our approaches – you can access newly developed e-books from the People and Organisational Development team here which focus on leading and managing differently.

    From my perspective, you have all come through an incredibly tough period; having worked your way through three of the four phases in the Scottish Government’s Route Map. Looking ahead, we have potentially got just one more phase to work through.  I do not under-estimate the volume of work each of these phases has involved and of course, the return of schools in August will require another herculean effort.

    I hope everyone is remembering to take some time off. It is important that we are modelling the need to take time off and recharge the batteries. I appreciate we are working at a terrific pace and there may be hesitation to come “off the track” because of the stress of  jumping back in. So I will just repeat what I have said previously, this is a marathon not a sprint. Variations of the public health measures we are experiencing currently may well go on into 2021.

    I am signing off for two weeks’ annual leave and am certainly looking forward to getting some time to recover from the intensity of the last few months.

    As I do this, my over-riding reflection back on those months is that collectively you have achieved extraordinary things in such adverse and wholly unexpected circumstances. And it is important that we recognise and celebrate that as we continue to prepare for the road ahead.

    As ever, thanks for all you’re doing – it’s much appreciated. Please do ensure you’re taking care of yourselves and taking a well-deserved break.

    Angela

    Dear Colleagues 

    As we begin to move though the Phases of the Scottish Government route map, and as begin to reinstate some of our services, it is important to emphasise that for a large number of ACC staff working from home should still be considered the default position.   

    At this stage it is also difficult to determine how long these ‘work from home’ arrangements will be necessary so with this in mind we want to ensure our teams work from home safely with no increased risk of injury 

    We have therefore published  some advice oachieving this and request that you share this advice with your team 

    In order to assess the needs of our ‘work from home’ workforce we are asking everyone to complete this short  Homeworking Questionnaire once they have reviewed the pages.  This should be completed by Friday 17th July.  

    You can find the working from home safeladvice here 

    These pages include information on: 

    • How to set up your workstation 
    • If you normally use specialist ergonomic equipment 
    • Working at dining table 
    • Working from a sofa 
    • Interrupt sitting 
    • Your working environment 

    Returned questionnaires will be reviewed week commencing 20th July and shared with the named line manager at that time. 

    The web pages also include additional advice on getting the most out of working from home including:   

    • Mental health and wellbeing 
    • Top tips  
    • Getting the most out of remote meetings 
    • Using Microsoft Teams 
    • Using your own device  
    • Protecting your data  
    • Online learning resources.  

    Should additional support be required please contact HSW@aberdeencity.gov.uk  

    Kind Regards 

    Vikki Cuthbert  Assurance Manager 

    Dear Colleagues 

    Please remember that up to date Coronavirus guidance and advice is available on People Anytime with manager-specific information on the Manager FAQsThe site includes important information on a range of related topics including annual leave, staying safe while working and how to make the most out of working from home. You can also find copies of all the communications and emails sent to staff and managers during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

    We are all responsible for keeping up to date with the latest advice so please be sure to check the site regularly 

    The following areas are highlighted for your attention: 

    • Reinstatement of Services – If reinstatement is approaching for your service, your Chief Officer will speak with you and your team.  Chief Officers are working with the Reinstatement of Services Working Group to ensure that we do this in the safest possible way. In the meantime, you can find out more about our reinstatement process here.  Alongside guidance on the process, the page includes a number of new videos on how we are reinstating services across the council as well as instructions on how to stay safe at work.  

    If you work within a previously steppeddown service and are looking to reinstate your service, or if you require access to a closed building, please contact your Chief Officer in the first instance.  

    If you need advice on a small change to your working practices, please speak to the Corporate Health and Safety Team who can assist with the process and advise if you need to submit your request to working group.  Email them on hsw@aberdeencity.gov.uk. 

    If staff can work from home they should continue to do so, but if anyone is required to work from a council building then the proper risk assessments must be in place. The Health and Safety Team will be able to advise on these. 

    • Domestic violenceDuring lockdown national helplines supporting victims of domestic abuse reported a sharp increase in the number of calls they are receiving. With a large percentage of the workforce working from home, victims of domestic abuse are more vulnerable. As an employer, ACC has a duty of care towards employees, and in these unprecedented circumstances, this duty of care extends to supporting all ACC employees to stay safe at home. Anyone homeworking and feeling in a vulnerable position can make a safety plan. Further information on this can be found on the dedicated People Anytime page. 

     

     

    • Mental Health:  While some employees have adapted to our news ways of working during COVIDmany others may be finding the lack of routine and contact extremely stressful.  As we continue to advisthe majority of our workforce to work from home, we need to ensure our colleagues are all OK.  The isolation that working from home may bring and the inevitable stress brought by COVID itself might be causing a negative impact on their mental health. As a manager it is important that we do what we can to lessen this impact. 

    To help you manage any issues within your team, we’ve collated a step by step, best practice guide to help you provide appropriate support to these team members. You can find this guide here.   

     

    • Test and Protect is Scotland’s approach to implementing the test, trace, isolate, support strategy and is a public health measure designed to break chains of transmission of COVID-19 in the community. The NHS will test people who have symptoms, trace those who may have become infected by spending time in close contact with someone who tests positive, and then support those close contacts to self-isolate.  That meansif they have the virus, they are less likely to pass it on to othersTesting is available for all Aberdeen City Council employees and they can request a test through the People Anytime Test and Protect page. 

     

    • Staying safe at work: additional information has been added to the Staying Safe at Work pages which include updated and critical information on the necessity of undertaking risk assessments, the use of PPE and social distancing and hygiene at work.   

    In addition – it is important to remember that:  Staff should only be travelling to a place of work (outside the home) where they have a specific role or task to deliver which cannot be done from home and is in support of one of our defined critical services, or where the service has been reinstated in line with Government Guidelines. 

      

    If you have any further questions, please contact Employee Relations.   

    This week we reached some significant milestones in our response/recovery to covid-19, as expressed through all the reports submitted to this week’s Urgent Business Committee.   

    In the midst of our collective exhaustion in getting to this stage this week, I wanted to express my personal appreciation for your achievement in reaching this point.  Not only have you charted a way forward in terms of the recovery of the council and the city from COVID-19, but you’ve done this against the backdrop of continuing to support the response efforts and our efforts to transition back to some form of recognisable normal. You are all truly remarkable! 

    Thank you sincerely for all that you are doing – you’re making a real difference – the difference we need at this time.  

    With an expected First Minister announcement on Thursday,  this week has the potential to be another key milestone on our road to recovery.  And, as we move forward into Phase 3 I have no doubt you will continue to work together for the benefit of everyone in the city. 

    I will be in touch later in the week, when we have a full announcement from the Scottish Government.  

    #superproudceo 

    The culture of any society or organisation is the product of years of learning and experience. It is evident in the habits, behaviours and performance of any group of people.

    Pre-COVID we were beginning to see some really promising green shoots that have enabled us to make some huge leaps forward during COVID-19: we have become more bonded than ever by our core purpose, more digitally connected through remote working in Teams and have built more trust as a leadership team through open, frequent and transparent communications.

    But I am all too conscious, as I am sure you are, that positive cultures need constant nurturing and attention. As we start to return, it’s important that we nurture these green shoots of progress and not allow these encouraging elements of our culture to drift. And that we also revive and re-focus upon those elements of our culture that may not have had much attention of late due to the crisis.

    I share the below as examples and ask you to consider the things you can do to ensure we continue nurture the organisational culture in a positive way.

    Being thoughtful about our communication to keep building Trust

    How we communicate as a leadership team during this ongoing health crisis matters. People depend on our statements as leaders and often plan important decisions based on the information we give them. There is no such thing as over-communicating in a crisis, provided those communications are effective not only in volume but in honesty and willingness to lay out both the good and the bad. So we must strive to communicate clearly, authentically and often.

    We have made huge progress in building trust between staff, trade unions and management through this approach. It is important that we sustain this by striking the right balance between reassuring our colleagues and not being over optimistic by making promises, and then finding ourselves in the position of breaking those promises. As leaders it’s also ok when we don’t know the answer to be honest about this. In my mind, it comes down to the old adage “honesty is the best policy”. Ask yourself, “is my statement absolutely true? If I am required to do something to make it true, then I cannot give false relief and false confidence”. That is hard for a compassionate leadership team, but we must push ourselves.

    COVID-19 has significantly improved our approach to internal communication, and we have benefitted hugely from our new intranet, from Teams, WhatsApp etc. The recent video by Jonathan explaining the revised 20/21 budget is good example of how we are using different channels for communicating. These corporate communications tend to be useful when we have a specific update or topic to reach out to you about. The benefit of communication within your own team, is that you can get in touch without the need for a specific reason. So please do call your team members, even when you have no obvious need to call. Staying in regular contact with your team is critical even, and especially, if they are not currently working due to a service being stood down or because of a need to self-isolate.

    Maintaining stability wherever we can, to mitigate the anxiety caused by COVID-19 and what will happen when it ends.

    As you know, COVID-19 has been characterised by much volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity and the Scottish Government route map has offered a way through much of that. However, last week’s decision by the Scottish Government to now prepare for children returning to school full-time in August, is an example of the on-going uncertainty we face. In times of such uncertainty, people need leaders to somehow demonstrate stability. Whilst there are many things we still do not know; we can bring stability by creating structure. For example, holding daily or weekly calls at fixed times with staff. Bringing structure into working lives of people at least gives some sense of things being under our control. This will help with the mental health and stability of our colleagues. Folk will continue to have questions about their family’s health, about their jobs etc and so any stability we can provide feels important to do.

    Balancing our concern for the humanitarian side of this crisis along with our fiduciary duties to council.

    I think we can do both. But as we now start turning our attention to our 2021/22 budgets and working on options to live within the council’s means, we’ll need to continue to be thoughtful about the lingering social and economic impact of COVID-19 on our customers and citizens. As leaders, we have these dual objectives and again, we need to be honest about the challenges of balancing these.

    Investing in you and your team.

    I know that COVID-19 has been all consuming, and that much of what you have felt as peripheral, your own personal objectives and development and that of your teams, may have been temporarily cast to the side. People development and team building are not peripheral activities. They are key. It is in time of crisis that we need to ask more of people. We need everyone’s commitment and energy to tackle the crisis and to continue our journey of Build Back Better when the crisis is over.

    Spending time on our individual objectives and those of our teams gives us the opportunity to reinforce/re-emphasise our organisational purpose that has been so evident in our response to COVID-19. It also gives us the opportunity to reinforce how we have seen ourselves and our colleagues demonstrate all of our Guiding Principles and behaviours. And of course, the opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made in building our organisational capabilities – as Martin and I shared in our observations on our collective progress on the data capability.

    Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Build Back Better is our strategy. It is important as leaders that we keep an eye on our culture – through the visible habits, behaviours and performance of our teams – stay focused on those green shoots, recognise and celebrate them, and remember that by working as one-team we can come back stronger than ever.

    Stay Safe,

    Angela

    When I wrote to you last week sharing my  technique for coping with the uncertainty and ambiguity of the situation we find ourselves in, I was able to set out a bigger number of items under the “what we know” board, with a much smaller list of items  under the other 2 boards – “what we do not know” and “when we will know.”  

    It is evident that much remains unknown about this virus and the World Health Organisation has helpfully suggested there are 5 potential scenarios in the medium term which we could face: 

    • Covid-19 driven to zero and maintained 
    • The R number stable and cases at low level 
    • Localised outbreaks in confined settings  
    • Complex ill-defined clusters of cases difficult to relate to a single chain/setting 
    • Evidence of sustained community transmission.  

    So, whilst we have charted a way through the pandemic both for the council and the city, bringing much-needed certainty and reducing ambiguity – it is fair to say that we continue to face uncertainty and ambiguity.  

    As the health crisis turns into a lingering financial and economic crisis, we will need to remain resilient and to tap all our sources of hope, trust, and optimism in order to unlock creativity and build momentum for the future.  You can find out more about the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 in the webinar held last week.

    This week, several harsh truths will be revealed to the organisation and the city through our reports to June’s Urgent Business Committee: 

    • The extent of harm caused to the people and place and economy of Aberdeen will be revealed though our socio-economic plan 

    • The extent of financial harm caused to the council will be revealed through our revised budget 

    • The on-going revelation of the measures designed to enforce physical distancing across the city, as well measures within schools will bring the reality of the 3 of the 5 potential scenarios (above) home to everyone 

    Despite, or perhaps because of these revelations, we must build a momentum for the future, and we can do that, I think, by channelling positive sentiments and by encouraging our sense of community within the council, with partners and with communities across the city.  It is important that we start sharing positive stories and creating uplifting moments as part of our efforts to reignite our resilient spirit.  

    As part of this, I hope the positive stories within the virtual Star Awards- at 6.30pm this Thursday 25th can play a part in re-igniting our resilient spirit. We all have the opportunity to watch the awards; they can be viewed on the intranet. It will also be available to watch on YouTube on the night. 

    And, I hope that as a leadership forum you will play your part in building a momentum for the future, by focusing on, recognising, and celebrating all positive sentiments within the council and across the city.    

    As we manage the transition back into council’s normal governance arrangements, as set out in the report to UBC, we will retain our attention on Covid-19 through a more agile approach. This will involve: 

    • The council being represented on NHS Grampian’s Director of Public Health incident management team which will be responsible for ongoing surveillance and decision making in response to any localised outbreaks in confined settings  

    • The development of our own surveillance dashboard which will monitor the medium/longer-term impact of Covid-19  on both the council and the city 

    • Ensuring that we implement all the lessons learnt from this pandemic to be ready in case we face a future return to lockdown in the light of sustained community transmission.  

    We continue to be tested by Covid-19 in terms of the demands it places on our collective leadership; nonetheless, and as I have said before, “there is more in you than you think”.  

    Thank you for all you’re doing, as always – it is appreciated. 

     Angela 

    I have previously shared with you that I am trying to cope with both the ambiguity and uncertainty of the Covid-19 situation by visualising 3 big boards in front of me every day. These boards are covered with post-its which are repositioned as things change. The 3 boards are headed: 

    1. What we know 
    2. What we do not know 
    3. When we will know

    As at today, what do we know? 

    • The numbers of covid-19 related deaths have dropped significantly – another promising sign that the virus has been slowed although it has not been eradicated.   
    • We have come through Phase 1 of the Scottish Government’s Route Map. This has involved the safe reinstatement of some services, and the introduction of some physical distancing measures across the city. 
    • We know the next statutory review date is this Thursday 18th June for the decision to move to Phase 2. 
    • We know which services we are prepared to reinstate if the decision to move to Phase 2 takes place this week. 
    • We know which further physical distancing measures we intend to introduce to the city if the decision to move to Phase 2 takes place this week. 
    • We know how our regulatory functions will support businesses who are permitted to open at Phase 2. 
    • We know the next statutory review date for Phase 3 is 9th July and the date for Phase 4 is 30th July. 
    • We know there has been a further extension of those “at risk” to be shielded until the 31st July. 
    • We know how we plan to achieve the financial recovery of the council, with our revised budget proposals nearly finalised for UBC on the 30th June. 
    • We know how we plan to transition back into the normal governance of council from August as set out in our report for the UBC on the 30th June and our DERC’s working out in parallel how we will step down our emergency management structures that we’ve had in place. 
    • We know how we plan to support the social and economic recovery of the city, with our report to Urgent Business Committee nearly finalised. You can join Richard Sweetnam and a panel discussing this on  Thursday 18th June.   

    What we do not know 

    • We do not yet know the full range of guidance we can expect from Scottish Government and the detail within it, which we will have to ensure our compliance with.  

    When we will know 

    • I think we can expect the guidance to come immediately before and after each of the statutory review dates. 

    When I compare the placement of the post-its, there is far more now that is certain. Until a mass immunisation programme is in place, it would be wrong to suggest that we are coming to the end of Covid-19, but certainly there is a growing sense of what “living with covid-19” will be like.  

    I think we have charted a course for both our organisation and the city through the “response” stage and we are clearly charting a course forward into the transition and recovery stages. In my book, that’s leadership – leadership across all levels of the Council.  

    So, thank you – for all you are doing and all you have done – it’s much appreciated.  

    Angela 

    Please remember to check People Anytime on a regular basis for updated guidance and advice.  

    In this week’s message to all staff, I reflect on the changes I’ve witnessed over the last 11 weeks, through the lens of our Guiding Principles. In this communication to you, the Leadership Forum, I intend to reflect on the changes I’ve seen in line with our organisational capabilities – this week I’ll focus on the standing up of our data and intelligence capability that I’ve seen in a matter of weeks, which informs our responses to COVID-19 challenges and prepares us for the future. These are the joint reflections from myself and Martin Murchie, our Chief Officer for Data & Insights.

    Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were trying to embrace data and analytics, but it’s fair to say that most of us had yet to apply the core practices. And, of course, a strong approach to data management is critical to the adoption of technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence). So, while we were progressing, it was taking us time. In progressing our approach to data, the mantra of our Data and Insights team is always “start with the problem we’re trying to solve”.  The last three months or so has brought many problems into very sharp focus.

    In the uncharted waters of COVID-19 , where the tides continue to shift, data analytics and visualisation tools have become essential navigational tools.  Analytics have supported numerous urgent tasks facing us:

    • They have helped procurement colleagues to identify potential supply-chain disruptions and to build plans to manage our supply chain,
    • They’ve allowed us to understand our workforce more clearly, showing support for critical services and areas of strength and vulnerability, which has allowed us to redirect resources
    • They have helped People & Organisation target PPE at-risk workers thereby ensuring we protected and supported staff
    • They provide us with a clear picture of our estate, highlighting, again, critical services and the role of facilities management in supporting them
    • They help the crisis support services team track families severely affected by COVID-19, thereby ensuring we protect our customers and citizens
    • This has allowed us to monitor the impact on the city’s most vulnerable people and respond with the support they need, preventing harm as far as possible
    • And it has helped us to understand the financial impact of COVID-19 on the council, enabling us to build a financial recovery plan.

    If we commit to applying the learning from these rapid analytics builds, it will enable us to embed AI and analytics council-wide and to be in a stronger position to tap deeper into the value waiting to be unlocked.  And for now, let me describe the changes I’ve seen.

    Change #1: Data Analytics aligned to our priorities:

    In our response to COVID-19, our first task was to identify the new organisational and city challenges that emerged overnight. As part of putting in place our emergency structures, I also saw us mobilise data analytics to help inform and address the challenges by building quickly new data streams which guided our immediate decision making whilst also developing our longer term view of data to understand the future. This has enabled us to build our financial recovery plan for the council as well as building our socio-economic rescue plan for the city.

    Change #2: Data Analytics has been aligned to the “problem” and not functional silos

    During COVID-19, we have had to assemble some cross-functional crisis response teams, for example, the Crisis Support Service, the “Places for People” workstream. These cross-functional groups have been focused on solving the “problems” we have faced and have built supporting data analytics through the lens of the problem to fix rather than through their functional lens.

    Change #3: We’re more agile than I thought

    I’ve been hugely impressed with the approach we’ve taken to support those citizens who have been required to “shield”. Our approach was up and running rapidly and the teams involved have tested their own ideas and have sought feedback from users of the support, and further adapted our approach. Sustaining an exceptional level of contact with those shielding for a sustained period now.

    Change #4: The empowerment of the front line

    I guess it’s no surprise that in the vastness of the response to the pandemic, we’ve been ready to empower frontline workers with decision making based on their judgement. We’ve also experienced a fast pace in our decision making, without the volume of meetings and personnel we would recognise from “peace time” decision making.

    Change #5: Getting comfortable with “unknown unknowns” – data imperfections

    Donald Rumsfeld, when the USA Secretary of Defence, stated: “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.

    We’ve had to acknowledge, particularly in terms of the financial impact of COVID-19 on the council, that the data we are using isn’t fully robust, but it is enough to generate useful insight when we then applied our judgement to it.

    Change #6: Using digital tools to bring data to life

    In each of the datasets we’ve quickly developed, the application of the visualisation tools courtesy of PowerBI has brought further insight to the data. The most impactful for me, has been the overlay of the calls to the crisis line over a map of the city, showing visually where vulnerability is growing.

    Change #7: Data protection is not a barrier

    Our Information Governance team have never been busier than during the last 3 months.  When we’re focused on specific problems and have clear reasons for sharing data then, in most cases, we can find a way to do this which means we can provide joined up help to our customers and respect their data.

    Of the changes I’ve referenced above, how would you categorise them using the following?

    1. Stopgap solutions we’ve put in place to get us through the crisis, but which may not continue post-lockdown.

    2. Practices from the ‘old normal’ that may not be sustained

    3. New, exciting, innovative practices that could be shared, accelerated and more widely adopted in the ‘new normal’

    4. New customer/staff experiences with momentum and the potential to become cemented in ‘next normal’

    For me, they all have the potential to stick – and whether they stick is down to us all. In order to help us cement these changes, Martin has volunteered to do a “live” event via Teams with the Leadership Forum and let’s see what changes we can build into our next normal.

    As ever, look after yourselves and your families

    Angela

    Sent on behalf of Isla Newcombe, Chief Officer – Organisational Development

    Dear Colleagues

    Following yesterday’s announcements from the First Minister that we have now entered Phase 2 of the route mapAberdeen City Council has announced how it intends to introduce Phase 2 measures across our city and additional information on how this impacts services for the public is available the council website on our COVID FAQs page.

    For anyone who is currently working from home there will be no immediate change to these arrangements.  Whilst some council buildings are beginning to open, please do not to go to your regular workplace unless the reinstatement process has been gone through and you hear from your Chief Officer.  

    Staff should only be travelling to a place of work (outside the home) where they have a specific role or task to deliver which cannot be done from home and is in support of one of our defined critical services, or where the service has been reinstated in line with Government Guidelines. 

    If your service is likely to be reinstated, your Chief Officer will speak to you and your team. In the meantime, you can find out more about our reinstatement process here.   

    You can also find up to date Coronavirus guidance and advice an People Anytime with  manager-specific information on the Manager FAQs. Please remember to check the site regularly to ensure you are up to date with the latest advice. 

    In addition there have been some recent updates to the guidance around the following points: 

    • Special Leave: 

    A Guide to Employee Scenarios During Covid-19 has been added which may assist in determining which options are available to different groups of employees and there is also an option to request authorisation on behalf of your employee for an Extension of Special Leave for caring responsibilities where all other alternatives have been exhausted. Remember that up to 14 days can currently be used flexibly to support with caring responsibilities.

    • Annual leave: 

    A reminder that in response to Scottish Government guidance the agreed approach to annual leave during the pandemic for ACC is that most staff (unless exempt) should have taken 25% of their annual leave by the end of June and should be on course to have taken 75% by the end of October. This is to ensure that all staff have full opportunity to take their allocated annual leave as not all staff will be eligible to carry forward unused annual leave at the end of the year. Please remember that it is important that staff continue to take time off from work and use their annual leave for the sake of their health and wellbeing as well as operational needs – annual leave utilization is currently being assessed across the organisation to give a picture on how this is working in practice.  Staff who may be on special leave should also be using a proportionate amount of annual leave.  More details can be found here.

    • Staying safe at work:additional information has been added to the Staying Safe at Work pages which include updated and critical information on the necessity of undertaking risk assessments, the use of PPE and social distancing and hygiene at work.   

    If you have any further questions please contact Employee Relations 

    Stay Safe

    Isla

    Making good, fast decisions is challenging under the best of circumstances. Decision-making amid uncertainty is not easy and given the pace of things now, we can’t afford to wait or delay decision making. The trickiest decisions are the big bets – unfamiliar, high stake decisions.

    We’ve faced a paralysing volume of decisions over the last 10 weeks or so and a particular intensity this week as we prepared for the anticipated First Minister announcement on Thursday to move to Phase 1 of the Scottish Government route-map.

    We’ve had no scope over the last couple of months to postpone any decisions whilst we tried to get more perfect information. And often we’ve found ourselves progressing an approach and associated decisions, to find ourselves having to retrospectively check what we’ve decided considering government guidance we weren’t aware was coming. Far from ideal I know.

    We’re clearly in an environment now which continues to be uncertain, continues to be defined as urgent and full of imperfect information.

    As I look ahead, I know we will continue to have to make big and small bet decisions, make those decisions quickly and with imperfect information. So, what can we do in these circumstances? Here’s some ideas – I hope you find them helpful.​​​​​​​

    Take a breath

    Research shows that the simple act of pausing, even for as little as a 100 millisecond, allows the brain to focus on the most relevant information.

    Once you’ve paused, ask yourself…

    • What is the most important right now?
    • What might be missing
    • How might things unfold from here
    • What could we influence now that could pay off later?

    We must try and anticipate how things might unfold and to begin to act accordingly in order to avoid knee jerk reactions that lead to poor outcomes.

    Involve others

    Involve as many people as you can to get different views and debates. Given the availability of Microsoft Teams, we can create rapid forums for a rapid debate to take place, involving as many different perspectives as possible. Remember we have some decision-making groups and structures in place now which are intended to help as well. For example, the Reinstatement of Services Working Group chaired by Stephen Booth, the Incident Management Team chaired by the DERC, the PPE working group chaired by Isla Newcombe, the Extended Corporate Management Team.  Any one of these can offer your support, challenge and debate.

    Differentiate the type of decisions you’re making

    A tactical decision comes generally with a clear objective, a low degree of uncertainty and relatively clear costs and benefits.

    Strategic decisions come with a high degree of uncertainty, a large likelihood that things will change, difficult to assess the costs and benefits and result in several outcomes

    Empower the right people

    If you’re empowering others to make decisions, don’t pick the usual suspects – not everyone is cut out for duty in times of uncertainty – some will, and some won’t.

    As we look ahead and start anticipating and preparing for Stages 2, 3 and 4 in the roadmap we can expect a lot more decisions to be made. I hope the above helps you, even if just a little.

    Thanks again for all you’re doing,

    Remember, you’re more than you know.

    Angela

    I came across this article by Tony Schwartz who is the  president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working and thought I’d share it would you. I found it really helpful – I hope you do too.
    Late last week, we gave a presentation to about 20 chief medical officers from health care systems around the country. I began by asking them to share a sentence or two about how they were feeling, personally. Over the next half hour, their answers spilled out in a torrent.

    “Exhausted, overwhelmed, and anxious.”

    “I’m feeling fearful and fatigued.”

    “Frustrated and dismayed.”

    “The current workload is not sustainable.”

    We are dealing with two contagions — the virus itself and the emotions it generates. Negative emotions are every bit as contagious as the virus, and they’re also toxic. Fatigue, fear, and panic undermine our ability to think clearly and creatively, manage our relationships effectively, focus attention on the right priorities, and make smart, informed choices.

    This impact begins physiologically. “Allostatic load” refers to the cost of chronic or extreme wear and tear on our bodies, mind, and emotions. Allostatic overload occurs when demand on our internal resources exceeds our capacity. The fear and uncertainty fueled by the COVID-19 crisis is putting extreme pressure on our finite resources. The consequences include poor decision-making, breakdown, and burnout.

    So how can we take better care of ourselves and build more resilience?

    One way is to become more aware of the different selves that influence our behavior in the face of threat and danger. The most defenseless, vulnerable, and childlike part of us is the overwhelmed self. We also have a more capable adult self. Much as a loving parent does for a frightened child, this self can soothe and reassure our overwhelmed self.  Unfortunately, when we feel most threatened, it’s our survival self that rushes to our defense — reactively, impulsively, haphazardly, and often counter-productively.

    We created this model of the three selves based on work that addresses trauma’s impact on the body and nervous system, most notably the therapeutic model “Somatic Experiencing,” developed by the psychologist Peter Levine.

    In survival mode, our vision narrows to the threat, and our pre-frontal cortex progressively shuts down. Reactivity replaces deliberation. Threat can help mobilize our attention, but when it comes to solving complex problems that have multiple variables, we need our highest cognitive resources.

    We can’t change what we don’t notice, so the first step is becoming more aware of what we’re feeling at any given moment. That means cultivating the capacity to observe our emotions, rather than being run by them. Simply naming our feelings gives us more distance from them, especially when they’re intensely negative.

    The second step is to calm yourself, regardless of what’s going on around you. A simple but powerful way is to use your breath. By breathing in through your nose to a count of three and out through your mouth to a count of six, it’s possible to clear your bloodstream of cortisol — the most pernicious stress hormone — in as little as one minute. Movement is also helpful. A burst of jumping jacks, or running up and down stairs, is a rapid, reliable way to discharge stress and quiet the body and mind.

    Once you feel calmer and more able to reflect, it’s possible to step into your adult self.  When we embody this strong, empathic part of ourselves, it can care for our overwhelmed self. You might tell this self, “It’s a difficult time and it makes sense that you feel what you do,” or “These feelings won’t last forever,” or “You can feel better, and I’m going to help you.” The most important move is distinguishing between the different parts of you, so you can summon the strength of your adult self rather than feeling whipsawed by your survival self.

    By putting our adult self back in charge, it’s possible to move from an enveloping experience of anxiety and fear, to a calmer place in which we’re able to hold and contain our most vulnerable self, so it no longer feels overwhelmed.

    Instead, most of us instinctively default to confirmation bias. We seek out evidence that supports our worst fears and disregard the rest. By reacting impulsively and defensively, we often make the situation worse, limiting our options and pushing others away.

    When our adult self takes charge, we can also step back and widen our perspective. It becomes possible to make a distinction between the facts in a given circumstance, and the stories we may be telling ourselves. A fact is something that can be objectively verified. It’s incontrovertible. A story is something that we create to make sense of the facts, but it or may not be factual.

    Once you’ve made this distinction, it’s valuable to ask a simple question: “What else might be true here?” Rather than catastrophizing about the COVID-19 crisis, you can tap into your adult self, deliberately choosing to focus on what you have the power to influence and letting go of the rest.

    Dear Colleagues,   

    The First Minister has today announced plans for the start of an ease to lockdown and have released details of the Scottish Government Routemap for a phased approach to an end of restrictions.  Phase one is expected to begin from the 28 May and more guidance is expected in the coming days. 

    As with any previous announcements we will need to properly consider any government advice that may be issued before any changes are made to the current working arrangements. You should therefore continue with your current arrangements until otherwise agreed with your Chief Officer.  

    ACC are currently in the planning stages with all Chief Officers for the re-instatement of services. There are a number of things  to consider as part of any service reinstatement so that we ensure that any lifting of restrictions is done in a way which is safe for both our staff and our citizens and that it doesn’t place a financial burden on the organsiation. 

    A short webinar is being held on this topic tomorrow lunchtime as part of the Leadership Forum which you are welcome to join.  

    Please click here to add the date to your diary.

    In the meantime, please remember to check the People Anytime site on a regular basis to ensure you are up to date with the latest advice and guidance.   

       

    Kind regards and stay safe    

    Isla  

    This present situation continues to be characterised by much ambiguity and uncertainty.  In our daily leadership role, we are often required to remove ambiguity for our teams by creating some certainty and finding agreement.  I’m trying to cope with both the ambiguity and uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation by visualising 3 big boards in front of me every day. And these boards are covered with post-its and these post-its are repositioned as things change. The 3 boards say: 

    1. What we know 

    2. What we don’t know 

    3. When we will know.  

    As at today, what do we know? 

    We continue to see promising signs that the virus has been slowed although it has not been eradicated. 

    If, after easing restrictions, the evidence shows that the transmission of the virus has not been contained, government will have to re-impose restrictions, possibly returning to lockdown  

    What we don’t know 

    When lockdown will be eased in Scotland and whether the approach will mirror the UK government’s 3 step approach announced recently. 

    When we will know 

    The next statutory review date is the 28th May  

    So still much uncertainty and ambiguity to cope with.  But despite that, we do have to continue to prepare for a range of scenarios – these scenarios were set out in Jonathan’s finance report to the recent Urgent Business Committee and in my recent CE Blog on our financial position. The most likely of those scenarios is the easing of lockdown and therefore our judgement is that we must start stepping up our preparations for this. As we undertake those preparations, our employees, customers, suppliers and community will be watching, and they will have long memories. What will matter is whether we took actions to take care of our staff, customers, suppliers and communities health, not whether we just said we cared.  

    In preparation for the gradual easing of restrictions, Martin Murchie, as current DERC, asked colleagues within our corporate landlord function to start making more intense  plans for how we will  open up council buildings, including schools, council construction sites, parks and open spaces and that we  do this safely. This will of course, involve ensuring that all our normal health and safety routines are in place whilst also ensuring that all the physical requirements for enforcing social distancing are in place as well as all the necessary signage. Stephen Booth, as corporate landlord, will ensure that all our arrangements are in line with all guidance issued by government.  

    We anticipate that the Scottish Government will still require those who can work from home to continue to do so, following any announcement of the easing of restrictions.  Our plans will need to take cognisance of that, and we will also have to take account of the saving options we’re exploring as part of our financial recovery work.  We have approximately 12 days to get our buildings, sites and open spaces ready, assuming an easing of lockdown is announced on 28th May. No site or workplace should have staff or customers coming back into them without all the relevant safety measures and procedures being in place and clearly communicated with all impacted staff, and as ever – an announcement of any changes to lockdown measures should not trigger changes to working practices until we are properly prepared. 

    In addition to the preparation of our buildings, we also must ensure that the re-opening of construction sites, associated with the council’s capital programme are appropriately adapted to enforce social distancing. We also must take the time to fully understand how we will physically ensure the safety of our staff who will be undertaking repairs on a range of assets e.g. roads, council houses. We must, managerially be prepared to enable and enforce physical distancing by our customers and our workforce. 

    In addition, colleagues in People & Organisation and the Corporate Health & Safety team have been working on how to support your plans for ensuring the safety of our staff and customers who will be physically returning to these buildings, sites and open spaces.  We must, managerially be prepared to reinforce the importance of strong hygiene practices and ensure that our staff are aware of symptoms and the need to take action in terms of accessing testing and then continuing isolating in the event of a positive test result. 

    As we gently ease out of lockdown as an organisation, we must be ready for coping with individuals and teams having to self-isolate and being unable to work. We will continue to have a reliance on our temporary movement of staff approach as a result.  

    Colleagues from across Strategic Place Planning, Capital and Operations have been developing plans for how we will facilitate social distancing across the public realm, for example, footpaths, bus shelters. The council will formally play a role, along with Police Scotland and the Health & Safety Executive in the “enforcement” of social distancing following the easing of lockdown but of course individually, we all have a duty to confront non-compliance. 

    Throughout this, we also continue our work on the development of a socio-economic rescue plan as well as the financial recovery plan for council.  

    Your leadership in ensuring preparations for the easing of lockdown are in place is critical. And I have asked Martin, as the current Duty Emergency Response Co-ordinator (DERC), to arrange a Leadership Forum live Microsoft Teams event , in order to share more detail of the approach, key considerations and so that you can ask questions.  

    Our “new normal” following the easing of restrictions will be characterised by the public health measures we are preparing to put in place and it’s important that we view these as life saving measures against a virus we can’t see. Let’s continue to look after ourselves, our families and each other by ensuring we’re well prepared for putting these measures in place across the council’s estate and the city and that our staff understand how to keep themselves safe when at work.   

    Thanks for all you’re doing, Angela

    You can find the latest ACC updates and advice on Covid-19 on People Anytime

    Sent on behalf of Isla Newcombe, Chief Officer – Organisational Development

    Dear Colleagues,  

    We are about to start week 7 of the lockdown and have had today the announcement from the First Minister that current arrangements have been extended in Scotland and we are likely to receive further announcements over the weekend from the UK Government.   

    We will need to properly consider any government advice that may be issued over the weekend or next week and any changes to working arrangements as a result would need to be agreed by your chief officer before being implemented with your teams. You should therefore continue with your current arrangements next week and until otherwise agreed with your chief officer. 

    In the meantime, below is a round-up of some of the key COVID-19 updates for Aberdeen City Council managers since our last round-up message on the 24 April.   

    Our People Anytime pages are updated on a regular basis with all the latest COVID-19 guidance for staff and managers. Please remember to check the site on a regular basis to ensure you are up to date with the latest advice.   

    A reminder that it’s critical that CoreHR is being updated and is accurate each day to highlight and record all your team absences, self-isolation and working from home arrangements, using relevant COVID codes. All managers need to use CoreHR to record staff who are unavailable to attend their normal place of work during the outbreak. This means that we have accurate information, on a day-to-day basis, about where people are working at home, whether they have symptoms, if they are self-isolating or if they are undertaking temporary alternative duties.   More details on use of CoreHR codes can be found at the bottom of this email. 

    Recent updates that are critical for managers include:   

    Vital information for all managers on procedures for keeping our staff safe.  

    Regularly updated and critical information on the necessity of undertaking risk assessments, the use of PPE and social distancing and hygiene at work.  

    • Use of Face Coverings

    Scottish Government has issued advice and guidance on the use of face coverings. It can be found here. Health Protection Scotland has amended its guidance on non-healthcare settings to reflect this and it can be found here.  

    It is important to note that this is guidance for the public, and not the workplace. Nonetheless, staff may choose to wear their own face covering when undertaking their role, and our procedures will be updated to advise on how to do this safely. It is important for staff to note that this should not add any additional health and safety risks to the tasks being undertaken. When applying or removing such a covering, it is important that staff wash their hands first and avoid touching their face. After each use, as per Government advice, the member of staff should wash the face covering at 60 degrees centigrade or dispose of safely.    

    A face covering in this context is not a surgical or other medical grade mask, but a facial covering of the mouth and nose made of cloth or other textiles and through which the wearer can breathe, for example a scarf.  

    A reminder that continued testing is available for Aberdeen City Council critical workers, or members of their households, who are displaying symptoms. We’d like to encourage anyone who unwell or having to self-isolate to think about applying for a test.  Testing sites are available at ARI, Huntly and Elgin. The process for requesting a test is as follows –  

    • Critical worker or line manager (with employee consent) will complete and submit this formto People and Organisation  
    • People & Organisation will submit application to NHSG for testing  
    • NHSG will call employee with appointment details  
    • Critical worker informed of test results  
    • Critical worker informs result to line manager and eghg@aberdeencity.gov.uk 

    We’d also like to take this opportunity to highlight Chief Finance Officer, Jonathan Belford’s two short videos on our current financial position.  Please take the time to watch them and read the Chief Executive’s blog at – Our Financial Position   and Our Financial Position part 2.  

    The information on People Anytime is updated on a regular basis so please keep checking for the most up-to-date guidance.  

      

    Kind regards and stay safe   

    Isla 

    You’ll find full guidance on using CoreHR and all codes to record within the Managers FAQs, please also find a reminder below. 

    Leave Type   

    Reasons   

    Description   

    Sick Leave – COVID   

    COVID – Symptoms   

    To be used where an individual has symptoms and is unfit to work due to COVID-19. Managers need to input this on behalf of staff.   

    Special Leave (Paid) inc COVID   

    COVID – Caring Responsibilities    

    COVID – Self Isolation/ Symptoms   

    COVID – Service Closure    

    COVID – Underlying Medical Condition   

    To be used where an individual is unable to work from home or in an alternative way but is impacted by COVID-19   

    COVID – Working from Home   

    COVID – Alternative to normal work     

    COVID – Caring Responsibilities    

    COVID – Self Isolation/ Symptoms   

    COVID – Underlying Medical Condition   

    To be used where an individual is able to undertake work from home or in an alternative way but is impacted by COVID-19   

    COVID – Temp Movement of Staff   

    Undertaking temporary duties only   

    Full contracted role & temp duties   

    Partial contracted role & temp duties   

    To be used where an individual has been temporarily reallocated to undertake alternative work    

    Isla Newcombe | Chief Officer – Organisational Development

    Aberdeen City Council | People & Organisation | Resources

    Marischal College | Broad Street | Aberdeen | AB10 1AB

    Susan Gray | Personal Assistant  

    Direct Dial: 01224 523008 | susangray@aberdeencity.gov.uk

    www.aberdeencity.gov.uk | Twitter: @AberdeenCC | Facebook.com/AberdeenCC

    Dear colleagues,

    As I reflect on some of the wonderful and innovative approaches we have taken to respond to the lockdown, I recognise that it is these approaches that offer us a once-in-a-century invitation to imagine something richer, truer, deeper than “normal” ever was. After the war, people didn’t aspire to go back to the hunger and economic depression of the 30s – they wanted to build a land fit for heroes to live in. This isn’t a time for looking back, it’s a time for imagining the future and starting to live that future now.  This is our lifetime’s opportunity to Build Back Better.

    Already across the city we’re seeing wonderful new patterns of volunteering and people thinking differently about how they spend their time. Maybe we’re seeing the beginning of a new age – in which we learn that human flourishing comes not from things but from relationships.

    There is no inevitability that the momentum of community engagement through volunteering that we’re experiencing at the moment will continue into the future. We need to actively and collectively work together to ensure it becomes the future reality, as we set out in the Target Operating Model.  As you know, the TOM was designed to help us build a council of the future and at the heart of that vision is our ability to “encourage inclusiveness, engagement and collaboration” – one of our 7 organisational capabilities that we’ve been embedding.

    Within the current ACC COVID-19 resilience structures, we have a Care for People Group co-chaired by @Andy MacDonald and @Sandra MacLeod. This group has full access to the patterns and profile of the current volunteering effort and this will be shared with you through the ongoing service redesign work by your Chief Officer. This analysis demonstrates that we have a wonderful pool of community volunteers eager to help our city and a resource that we could benefit from when delivering our services.  It is essential that we utilise these volunteers going forward as part of our Build Back Better approach.

    The COVID-19 health crisis is going to have a significant social and economic impact and the city will rely on us all to ensure that we come through this to allow our city to prosper once again. Our involved and engaged communities are going to be critical for this to happen.

    So, I’m inviting you to “look back from the future” and reflect on what you have done to turn this current community engagement to the advantage of the city and the city council. To assist with this let me pose the following questions to you in the present:

    Goal – What problem are we really trying to solve or what outcome are we seeking?

    Reality – What is the situation right now, what has already been tried?

    Options – What else could be tried? Whose advice could you seek? Who knows the answer?

    Will – what will you do next?

    I’m inviting you now to take these thoughts forward and join together as a Leadership Forum to hear directly from me and our Chief Officers about the work that has started to Build Back Better.  Please think about the changes that we’ve made during this time and which of these we’d like to retain and build on going forward and start the discussion about how we sustain some of the incredible flexibility and innovation we have seen and transfer this into our new normal.

    Virtual Leadership Forum: Build Back Better

    9.30-11am 12th May 2020

    Hosted using Microsoft Teams: invite to follow directly into your calendar.

    I look forward to discussing this with you soon. In the meantime, stay safe.

    Angela

    Sent on behalf of Isla Newcombe, Chief Officer –Organisational Development 

    Dear Colleagues 

    Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak and the ‘stay at home’ message designed to combat COVID-19 was introduced, many national helplines who support victims of domestic abuse have experienced a sharp increase in calls. Staying at home can mean that people are potentially stuck at home with their abuser 24hrs a day.   

    As a line manager, you can play a critical role in supporting employees to stay safe if they are victims of domestic abuse.   Please take the time to familiarise yourself with the guidance laid out in this email and on People Anytime.  

    There has been a 49% increase in calls to helplines and in the 1st 3 weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown and 16 people were killed as a result of domestic violence (an 11-year high). Male victims of abuse have also been calling for help in greater numbers, with the Men’s Advice Line seeing calls rise 17% in the first week of lockdown.  

    The Home Secretary has recognised this increased risk and recently launched the You Are Not Alone campaign to raise awareness of the issue and provide additional support to people who find themselves in this position. 

    As an employer, Aberdeen City Council are fully in support of this campaign and we have a duty of care towards our employees. This duty of care extends to supporting our staff to stay safe at home as well as at work.  In line with this, managers’ guidance and domestic abuse advice webpages have been produced which signpost to the various agencies supporting people facing the possibility of domestic abuse. They also signpost to the various internal sources of support available to our staff, including:  

    Please also familiarise yourself with the “Ask for Angela” process set out in the guidance.  We have adopted this to enable employees to to indicate that they need help without arousing the suspicions of an abuser who might overhear the conversation. The  managers’ guidance provides you with a flowchart on how to follow the Ask for Angela process and ensure we can help our staff to the best of our abilities.  

    It is important to remember that all you can do is offer support, a listening ear and help facilitate the employee leaving their abuser by offering a reason for leaving the house or by making contact with the Police, a friend or relative or support agency who can assist. It is the employee’s decision whether or not to leave an abusive situation – you cannot be, and are not, responsible for providing the type of specialist advice that support agencies can provide; nor are you responsible for the decisions made by the employee. 

    This is a difficult and sensitive area, and one that you may not feel confident about supporting; it can also be upsetting to realise that a colleague is in this position. If you feel that you need additional support, please contact the Employee Relations team on EmployeeRelations@aberdeencity.gov.uk 

    Kind regards and stay safe

    Isla

    Dear Colleagues,

    Last week saw reports being finalised for the upcoming Urgent Business Committee on the 6th May and there are two significant reports on plans for the energy transition of the city and the City Council.  I’m proud that we’ve managed to stay focused on the energy transition agenda during the pandemic. Another big crisis on the doorstep of the world that’s temporarily been overshadowed by COVID-19 – but has not gone away.

    Pandemics and climate risk are similar in that they both represent physical shocks which then translate into an array of socio-economic impacts. The pandemic is sweeping the globe, threatening lives and livelihoods, at an alarming rate. It was only a couple of months ago that we were similarly watching lives and livelihoods being threatened as a result of extreme flooding.

    Perhaps the current pandemic provides us with a foretaste of what a full-fledged climate crisis could entail in terms of the shock to supply and demand, disruption to supply chains and global transmission.

    Addressing pandemics and climate risk require the same fundamental shifts. However, the timescales of both the occurrences and resolution of pandemics and climate hazards are different. The former is measured in weeks, months and years – the latter in years, decades and centuries.

    A global climate crisis, if and when ushered in, could prove far lengthier and more disruptive than what we currently see with the coronavirus; if that can be imagined.  According to the research, climate change can contribute to pandemics and, conversely, the same factors that mitigate climate risks are also likely to help mitigate the risk of pandemics.

    Across the world, the environmental impact of some of the public health measures taken to counter the pandemic have been seen by some as a full-scale illustration of what drastic action can produce in a short amount of time. Satellite images of vanishing pollution during the lockdown are a case in point.

    So, the lockdown potentially represents a crucial moment for climate action. Some of the temporary adjustments put in place, such as homeworking and greater reliance on digital channels, could endure after the lock down has ended, reducing transport demand and emissions. Of course, a reduction in transport emissions can significantly improve the health and well-being of children and adults who currently experience respiratory conditions – those conditions that put people at risk during the COVID-19  pandemic.

    So we must:

    1. Use this crucial moment to raise awareness of the impact of climate risk, which could ultimately create disruption of even greater magnitude and duration than we’re seeing with coronavirus
    2. Build upon the mindset and behaviour shifts that we’ve seen within the council and across the city

    The unwinding of social distancing restrictions will be worked through by government. Transportation patterns are going to have to be carefully planned in order to avoid a collapse of social distancing. There’s opportunity, for example, for us as a country to be thinking about introducing different commuting patterns. Different commuting patterns will also enable us to think about different working patterns in order to respond to the phased relaxation of social distancing.

    What qualifies us to be called leaders is our capacity to influence others to change their behaviours in order to achieve important results. Right now, our collective leadership is focused on dealing with the clear and present danger to lives. We must collectively try to preserve some of the change in behaviours and mindsets that we’re seeing into our post pandemic working and personal lives. So, I’d ask you to begin a dialogue with members of your teams to explore together which mindsets and behaviours to preserve and to be actively planning to sustain these for future benefit. 

    Stay safe,

    Angela

    You can find the latest ACC updates and advice on Covid-19 on People Anytime.

    Sent on behalf of Isla Newcombe, Chief Officer – Organisational Development 

    Dear Colleagues, 

    Below is a round-up of some of the key COVID-19 updates for Aberdeen City Council managers since our last round-up on the 16 April.  

    We are now coming into week 5 of the lockdown and continue to implement the government advice whereby all staff who can work from home must continue to do so.  

    Our People Anytime pages are updated on a regular basis with all the latest COVID-19 guidance for staff and managers. Please remember to check the site on a regular basis to ensure you are up to date with the latest advice. 

    Recent updates across these pages that are critical for managers include:  

    • It is important for staff wellbeing that we continue to take annual leave when possible during this time. New guidance on the use ofannual leave can be found in the Managers FAQs has been developed and agreed with Trade Unions as follows:  
      • Staff are being encouraged to continue to take annual leave where possible  
      • A pattern of annual leave has been suggested for guidance only. In exceptionaland COVID-19 related circumstances where staff have been unable to take annual leave, they may be eligible to carry over up to 20 days to be used before December 2022. It’s important to be clear when colleagues may not be eligible for this carry forward according to the guidance and to plan with them accordingly   
      • We welcome feedback on this guidance and, as always, will make any necessary updates in line with COSLA or Government instruction

    • Testing for critical workers– a reminder that this is now available for Aberdeen City Council critical workers, or members of their households, who are displaying symptoms. Testing sites are available at ARI, Huntly and Elgin. The process for requesting a test is as follows – 
      • Critical worker or line manager (with employee consent) will complete and submit this form to People and Organisation
      • People & Organisation will submit application to NHSG for testing 
      • NHSG will call employee with appointment details 
      • Critical worker informed of test results 
      • Critical worker informs result to line manager and eghg@aberdeencity.gov.uk

    In addition to the above and following an announcement by the Home Secretary, it has been recognised that there may be a significant risk to victims of domestic abuse as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown advice.  Many helplines have seen a significant increase in calls for help and as victims’ may be increasingly isolated with their abuser.  New guidelines on how we, as managers, can help any employees in this situation will be issued next week.  

    Finally, your regular reminder to record all your team absences, self-isolation and working from home arrangements in CoreHR, using relevant COVID codes. All managers need to use CoreHR to record staff who are unavailable to attend their normal place of work during the outbreak. This means that we have accurate information, on a day-to-day basis, about where people are working at home, whether they have symptoms, if they are self-isolating or if they are undertaking temporary alternative duties.  

    You’ll find full guidance on using CoreHR and all codes to record within the Managers FAQs. 

    The information on People Anytime is updated on a regular basis so please keep checking for the most up-to-date guidance. 

    Kind regards and stay safe

    Isla

    Dear Leadership Forum,

    All our colleagues must have access to practical guidance and necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to ensure they are able to carry out their roles safely during the COVID-19 outbreak.

    As leaders, it’s imperative that you keep up-to-date with the latest guidance and procedures to protect the health, safety and welfare of your teams and service users by reviewing the guidance on staying safe while working and completing relevant risk assessments in conjunction with the Corporate Health & Safety Team.  

    If you’re a Service Manager – you have responsibility for signing off these risk assessments and highlighting any concerns or possible PPE shortages. You are also required to share your completed risk assessments and resulting working procedures with staff who are impacted, as well as keeping them informed on the guidance documents which you’ll find on People Anytime here.

    If you’re a member of staff with a PPE requirement, or a service manager with staff who have PPE requirements – make sure you are familiar with the escalation process, should the equipment not be available, using this simple decision tree.

    Everyone has a role to play in ensuring that these safe working guidelines are communicated to frontline staff, so that we give confidence to those who are providing and receiving vital services that their safety is being prioritised.

    Finally, if you have any colleagues who show symptoms at work – a reminder to please follow the guidance that you’ll find on People Anytime here.

    Thank you and stay safe,

    @Isla Newcombe and @Vikki Cuthbert

    You can find the latest ACC updates and advice on Covid-19 on People Anytime

    Dear Colleagues

    Please remember that there is a requirement for all managers to use CoreHR to record staff who are unable to undertake their normal role or attend their normal place of work during the outbreak. This includes: 

    • anyone unable to work due to impacts of COVID-19 
    • working from home due to impacts of COVID-19 
    • or undertaking alternative duties.   

    There is no requirement to input additional recording where staff are continuing to carry out their normal roles, at their normal place of work or at an alternative place of work which is not at home. Accurate recording ensures that we have up-to-date information, on a day-to-day basis, about where people are working, whether they have symptoms, and if they are self-isolating. 

    We are using “Leave Types” on CoreHR for recording purposes during COVID-19 as this can be easily input by either employees or managers.  Several new options have been added to cover a broad range of scenarios and these are marked with an * below 

    As a reminder the Leave Types to use in different scenarios are as follows: 

    Leave Type 

    Reasons 

    Description 

    Sick Leave – COVID 

    COVID – Symptoms 

    To be used where an individual has symptoms and is unfit to work due to COVID-19 

    Special Leave (Paid) inc COVID 

    COVID – Caring Responsibilities  

    COVID – Self Isolation/ Symptoms 

    COVID – Service Closure * 

    COVID – Underlying Medical Condition 

    To be used where an individual is unableto work from home or in an alternative way due to the impact of  COVID-19 

    COVID – Working from Home 

    COVID – Alternative to normal work   

    COVID – Caring Responsibilities  

    COVID – Self Isolation/ Symptoms 

    COVID – Underlying Medical Condition 

    To be used where an individual is ableto undertake work from home or in an alternative way but is impacted by COVID-19 

    COVID – Temp Movement of Staff * 

    Undertaking temporary duties only * 

    Full contracted role & temp duties * 

    Partial contracted role & temp duties * 

    To be used where an individual has been temporarily reallocated to undertake alternative work  

    * These options have been recently created for Covid-19 reporting  

    Employees can apply for any leave (except Sick Leave) via the “book leave” option on CoreHR for the manager to approve, or managers can input any of the leave types on their behalf via “Team Scheduler”.   

    Sick Leave can only be input by the manager.   

    Please ensure that any recording doesn’t overlap with other leave (such as annual leave). 

    Please also ensure that your team have updated their next of kin on CoreHR.  If they cannot access CoreHR, they can submit this information along with their payroll number to AskHR

    CoreHR Guide is available and if you are unsure which category to use, you can get help and advice from Employee Relations

    Additional COVID-19 advice and guidance can be found on People Anytime

    Regards

    Internal Comms

    Dear Colleagues, 

    “When this is all over…” is a phrase that many of us are probably repeating now, committing ourselves to a whole load of things we’re going to do once the lock-down is removed. The phrase signals an intention to change. Let’s throw our imaginations forward and imagine what Aberdeen City Council will be like when this is all over, accepting that the road ahead is still long and uncertain. One thing that is certain is that we will all have to adjust to a new, post COVID-19 normal.

    I wrote previously to you, expressing a view that our leadership challenge is to think and act across 5 horizons now as we respond, react and adapt to the impact of COVID-19.

    1. Resolve – to address the immediate challenges that COVID-19 represents to us as a council and to city and its citizens
    2. Resilience – to address broader resilience issues during the virus-related shutdowns and economic knock on effects.
    3. Return – to create detailed plans to return to business to scale quickly as COVID-19 situation resolves
    4. Re-imagination – to reimagine the next normal post COVID-19
    5. Reform – to be clear about how our regulatory, legal, and health protection environment may shift.

    The extended management team have undertaken some early thinking on how we will approach these different horizons and recognise that in planning a strategic organisational response. ACC must:

    • aim to build back better and avoid returning, by default, to a pre-COVID-19 Council
    • plan across multiple time horizons, balancing crisis response, service delivery and strategic planning
    • accept that our plans will be flexible and iterative, responding to high levels of uncertainty and the need for fast-paced decision making

    It is also recognised that ACC’s existing approach of maintaining a multi-year plan, incorporating our commissioning cycle, transformation and budget challenge, remains appropriate. The current situation simply means that this critical path must reflect a new reality – absorbing both the immediate response to COVID-19 and its longer-term implications into our strategies, plans and service designs. It is therefore vital that we reassess our current situation – our “starting point” has been reset and we need to understand the scale of that change.  

    I am seeking your involvement and leadership to ensure that we build back better by methodically working through the stages of reassessment, scenario planning, strategy review and service redesign. I have asked that a virtual Leadership Forum is organised to explain more and get your thoughts and ideas. 

    I appreciate that there is a lot for us to do and I know this may feel like an untimely message, but I am determined that the council plays as full a part as we can in the rescue and recovery efforts in response to this health crisis and that we ensure that no one in Aberdeen is left behind.  The COVID-19 health crisis is going to turn into a lingering financial and economic crisis for some time. So the city will need us more than ever in the years to come and it’s incumbent on us, as the leaders of this organisation, to ensure that we come through this as an organisation, able to sustain a long recovery period for the city.

    We do need to be prepared for this lingering financial and economic impact and I think we need to start this work now. I know this is an ask, but I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think we could do this together.

    I look forward to our virtual forum.Stay safe

    Angela

    Sent on behalf of Isla Newcombe, Chief Officer – Organisational Development

    Dear Colleagues,

    Below is a  round-up of some of the key COVID-19 updates for Aberdeen City Council managers since our last round-up email on the 2nd of April.

    You’ll likely be aware of the 3-week extension to the lockdown announced this evening – we will continue to implement government advice and all staff who can work from home must continue to do so. Please refer to our People Anytime pages for all the latest guidance for staff and managers.

    Recent updates across these pages that are critical for managers include:

     

    Finally, a reminder to record all your team absences, self-isolation and working from home arrangements in CoreHR, using relevant COVID codes.

    Remember that all managers need to use CoreHR to record staff who are unavailable to attend their normal place of work during the outbreak. This means that we have accurate information, on a day-to-day basis, about where people are working at home, whether they have symptoms, and if they are self-isolating

    New CoreHR codes which should be used moving forwards:

    • Special Leave (paid) – COVID – Service Closure – to be used for recording when someone is unable to undertake any work at present due to the closure of an ACC building or their service has been stood down. To be used unless and until alternative duties might be agreed.
    • COVID – Temp Movement of Staff – to be used for recording when someone is doing alternative work under the Temporary Movement of Staff Protocol, with one of the following reasons
      • Undertaking temporary duties only
      • Full contracted role & temp duties
      • Partial contracted role & temp duties

    You’ll find full guidance on using CoreHR and all codes to record within the Managers FAQs.

    The information on People Anytime is updated on a regular basis so please keep checking for the most up-to-date guidance.

    Regards

    Internal Comms

    Dear Leadership Forum 

    We have now received more than 1600 submissions from employees who have volunteered to support critical services at this time.  We have also received and approved  service requests for support. We have moved or are in the process of moving  employees to support these critical services.  There are also a number of services that have worked within their cluster to organise moves and that have staff already working flexibly, including education and early years teams supporting hubs, creative and community learning teams supporting very sheltered housing, and environmental teams supporting our waste and recycling services. This is a fantastic response so far, and we continue to respond to critical requests each day. 

    Given this activity,  we must stress the importance of our new and recently-updated Covid-19 Temporary Movement of Staff Protocol found on our People Anytime pages. 

    It is important that all managers familiarise themselves with and follow this new protocol when sourcing cover for critical services or requesting that staff undertake alternative duties within your own team or cluster.  This includes submitting a request for cover through the correct process when it is needed and before any movement takes place,  and alerting the team if you intend to ask individuals within your own area to cover critical tasks that are not their usual role.  This can be done on a form found on the People Anytime pages .

    Employees and line managers also have a responsibility to ensure their information is up to date to support with the above.  CoreHR must be updated to reflect if employees are doing temporary alternative duties.   

    If an employee is undertaking temporary work to support critical services, the employee or their existing line manager should update CoreHR each day, to reflect this.  For an employee booking time off, they need to go to ‘book time off’ under leave and there is a new category called ‘COVID – TEMP MOVEMENT OF STAFF’.  They can then specify their circumstances.  Please see screenshots 1 and 2 on the attached document.  

    If a line manager is updating CoreHR on the employee’s behalf, they will do so using the scheduler on the manager’s dashboard and by adding an absence in Person Absences.  Please see screenshots 3 and 4 of the attached document . 

    The categories cover three potential scenarios: 

    • Undertaking temporary duties only –The employee is fully moved into temporary duties 
    • Partial contracted role & temp duties –The employee is partly moved into temporary duties and still undertaking elements of their current role 
    • Full contracted & temp duties –The employee is doing additional duties on top of the full elements of their current role 

    Please note, this should only be done once the employee has received written confirmation from the Talent Team about their new duties and begins to undertake them.  This should be done to cover the full period of their temporary duties and can be completed retrospectively where needed. 

    We are aware that services have been sourcing employees from elsewhere in the organisation (including within clusters) but it is important that we track and monitor all staff movement at this time.  This will ensure that: 

    • Staff are kept safe when undertaking alternative duties and their where aboutsis known 
    • We can issue appropriate paperwork and documentation to employees
    • We pay employees correctly and from correct cost-centres 
    • We know if people would be considered a critical worker for the purposes of Covid-19 testing. We know who is available for alternative duties at any point in time

    If you have any questions about the temporary movement of staff at this time, please contact Talent@aberdeencity.gov.uk 

    You can also find additional updates and information on Coronavirus on People Anytime.

    Regards

    Internal Comms

    Sent on behalf of Isla Newcombe, Chief Officer – Organisational Development

    Dear Colleagues

    I am pleased to announce that from 14 April Covid-19 testing is available for Aberdeen City Council critical workers.   

     

    The attached all staff communication will be released later today. 

    If you manage a team which includes people who fall into one of the four categories of critical workers – it’s essential that you share this information with them in case they – or a member of their household – become unwell. You can also complete the application for testing form on their behalf, with their consent, if they are unable to do so.  

    Any team members who have undertaken a test should inform you of the result – it is your role to ensure that their status on CoreHR is updated appropriately and then support them to return to work or continue to self-isolate, depending on the result.  

    Information and the forms can be found on our People Anytime page.  

    I hope you will agree that this is an important step to support our staff and to help maintain critical services. Your support and engagement in the scheme will be crucial to its success and I ask you to encourage any member of staff who becomes unwell or needs to self-isolate to make use of the scheme. Thank you for helping to keep our city running during this challenging time.  

    Stay safe,  

    Isla  

     

    Please continue to keep your people safe by referring to all the information about Coronavirus on People Anytime and following these guidelines 

    On Friday, the UK recorded its highest death toll in a single day – with 980 more deaths. The rise in deaths has exceeded the deadliest day reported so far in Italy, the country worst hit by the virus in Europe so far. This is indeed a frightening situation and gives us all cause for anxiety about the impact this pandemic will have on our own families and friends, the communities we live in and of course, the people of Aberdeen that we are here to serve. 

    As a child, in my grandfather’s house, he had a plaque on the wall which contained Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer and when I think about my granddad, the prayer always comes into my mind. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, here it is:

    “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    Perhaps there’s something in these words for us currently.

    In our normal every day working lives within the council, we don’t get much time to pause and think about what we’re doing and why.  I certainly don’t always give myself time to think in my routine life out of fear of wasting time.  But given the situation we find ourselves, there’s plenty of time to reflect. I’ve been thinking about the things we can’t change and thinking about the things we can. What are we here to do? How does working in this organisation make a difference? What is our shared purpose currently? These have been questions in my mind for the last few weeks.

    I took the opportunity to remind myself of our organisational purpose  “To ensure that the people and place of Aberdeen prospers, but in the event of harm happening, to support the rescue and recovery of  the people and place of Aberdeen  from that harm’. And as I re-read it, I found a bigger meaning in the statement than it perhaps had for me pre-COVID-19 . I think I found more meaning in our purpose, as I reflected on all that you’re doing in response to COVID-19.  I believe that our organisational purpose, is our shared purpose currently.

    In our pre-COVID-19 world, we understood our work and how to do it but perhaps not always connecting it to our shared purpose. As we operate outside all the normal conventions that we’re used to, it’s important that we all truly connect with that organisational shared  purpose and find our own, different ways to ensure our contribution to that purpose, as well as those of our teams. I believe that by connecting to this purpose, we not only provide hope to our staff but to the citizens we serve.

    As we come through the pandemic, I’m going to think about our purpose and the extent to which it is meaningfully driving what we do every day.

    This present situation continues to be characterized by much ambiguity and uncertainty.  In our daily management roles, we are often required to remove ambiguity for our teams by creating some certainty and finding agreement.  I’m trying to cope with both the ambiguity and uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation by visualising 3 big boards in front of me every day. And these boards are covered with post-its and these post-its are repositioned as things change. The 3 boards say:

    1. What we know
    2. What we don’t know
    3. When we will know.

    I’m sure you’re finding your own ways to navigate these waves of uncertainty and ambiguity.

    I have experienced some profound moments in my career at Aberdeen City Council and in those moments, I have benefitted from many kind words. And without those words, I’m not sure I’d have got through those moments. There is often an anxiety associated with what can and cannot be said in work settings, often out of fear of repercussions or out of concern for how we will be perceived.  But as a team, we must be openly supportive of one another. So, let me repeat to you, what someone once said to me – “There is more in you, than you think”.

    Stay safe

    Angela

    Good morning colleagues, 

    The news coverage of the health crisis, over the last week, has featured more about the human impact of the virus. Whilst important issues like personal protection equipment for front line staff has featured highly, so too have the human stories of families who have lost loved ones. At the end of our lives, I guess we all expect to be with our close loved ones – to be able to say how much they have meant to us and to hopefully reflect on a happy life together.  The required isolation demanded in response to this infection, it’s preventing families from being able to do this. And wider family and friends are also being starved of the opportunity to say their farewells and share stories of happier times, because of the restrictions being placed on funerals. These normal rituals of how we celebrate a life, at its end, are being prevented and it must make the loss of a loved one even more difficult to bear. Our thoughts must be with those families and our actions must be guided by our individual and organisational humanity – there was never more of time to bring our true selves to work.

    Wednesday saw the highest day on day increase in deaths across the country. A cold reminder that the “anticipated surge” is drawing closer.  A number of our own colleagues have been supporting the Grampian Local Resilience Partnership’s efforts to prepare for an anticipated level of excess death here in the city. So, let’s ensure we’re leaning in as a team to support these colleagues, in particular, within the Leadership Forum.

    Coronavirus Legislation Log

    Last week, I referred to the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity we’re experiencing as a result of the current health crisis. This week at least brought us some certainty in the form of the emergency powers legislation passed now through both the UK and Scottish Parliaments. Legal colleagues have created a legislation log following the development of the Coronavirus Act 2020 (UK Parliament) and the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 (Scottish Government).  Both acts apply to Scotland.  All leadership forum members have access to the log which is located here

    The log sets out which provisions are in force and which provisions are not yet in force.  This will be kept under review daily.  Please note, because the Scottish Act has not received Royal Assent (come into force), all provisions are currently marked as not being in force.  As soon as the Scottish Act becomes law (expected over the next day or two), the log will be updated to show which provisions have come into force. Please direct any queries you have on the legislative process to @Fraser Bell or @Jennifer Lawson.

    As you all know, local government is a creature of the law. All our duties and powers are expressed in a raft of legislation. These pieces of emergency legislation are either temporarily suspending or amending many of those historically built duties and responsibilities which we are familiar with. As you will know, our own council’s scheme of governance provides me with emergency powers to use in the event of a civil contingency.

    Colleagues across the council could be forgiven for leaping to the assumption that all “business as usual” conventions are suspended whilst we’re in the middle of this health crisis. However, that is not the case and our normal internal control environment, including financial controls, must be adhered to. The recent award of the governance mark of excellence from CIPFA demonstrates that we have an effective risk management operating model, governance structures and risk culture in place and we have been able to adapt these for this crisis.

    I am determined that the council plays as full a part as we can in the rescue and recovery efforts in response to this health crisis and that we ensure that no one in Aberdeen is left behind. The duration of this pandemic remains uncertain and therefore the length of the required recovery support also remains uncertain. So the city will need our support for a long time to come and it’s incumbent on us, as the leaders of this organisation, to ensure that we come through this as an organisation able to sustain a long recovery period for the city. We need to, therefore, continue to manage all those normal risks we face as an organisation as well as those additional risks we’re facing as a result of COVID-19. And, of course, our internal control environment plays an important role in the management of risks.  So please help me to ensure that colleagues understand the changes to the legal environment that we’re temporarily operating within and please reinforce the necessity for adherence to our normal control environment. Thanks for your help with this.

    Temporary Movement of Staff

    Last week saw the creation of our critical services list and in response, 1,500 colleagues have volunteered to support the rescue efforts. The mobilisation of staff is a big logistical exercise, and I’d be grateful if you can continue to support HR colleagues in both identifying the need for additional capacity as well as enabling the movement of staff. It is also critical that we continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on our staff and I’d ask for your help in encouraging and cajoling staff to keep CoreHR updated with all staff  details – whether absent, isolating or working from home. In order to ensure we protect our workforce, we must know which colleagues are absent and why. Thanks for your help with this.

    Our Leadership Challenge

    The battle against COVID-19 requires us to think and act across 5 horizons:

    1. Resolve – to address the immediate challenges that COVID-19 represents to us as a council and to city and its citizens
    2. Resilience – to address broader resilience issues during the virus related shutdowns and economic knock on effects.
    3. Return – to create detailed plans to return to business to scale quickly as COVID-19 situation resolves.
    4. Re-imagination – to reimagine the next normal post COVID-19.
    5. Reform – to be clear about how our regulatory, legal and health protection environments may shift.

    In the weeks ahead, we will need to start thinking about horizon 2-5.

    For now, I simply ask that you continue to “Do what you can, with what you have and where you can”

    Stay safe

    Angela

    You can find the latest updates, advice and FAQs on Covid-19 on People Anytime. 

    Join the conversations on the Leadership Forum Teams Site and find latest news on the Leadership Forum homepage.

    A reminder that important updates and guidance for staff and managers can be found on Coronavirus pages on People Anytime and the Managers FAQs  

    What you’ll find in the Managers’ FAQs:

    • Use of Time Sheets and Payment of Relief Staff
    • Guidance on the use of Annual leave

    The proper use of special leave in relation to COVID-19 for emergency childcare or underlying medical reasons

    Further guidance, support and information for Managers on People Anytime pages:

    And a few reminders…

    • View the recently published list of Critical Services
    • Use this Decision Tree to support determination of attendance at work
    • Record your team absences / isolation and working from home arrangements in CoreHR

    It’s vital that we have an accurate picture of the impacts of COVID-19 on all staff. There is a requirement for all managers to use CoreHR to record staff who are unavailable to attend their normal place of work during the outbreak. This means that we have accurate information, on a day-to-day basis, about where people are working, whether they have symptoms, and if they are self-isolating.

     

    You’ll find full guidance on using CoreHR and codes to record within the Managers FAQs.

    Bank holiday 10th April

    Friday 10th April is a bank holiday. Some staff who would not normally work may be asked to support the COVID –19 response effort. This would be in agreement with the Chief Officer. For a reminder of normal arrangements for bank holidays see here.

    The information on People Anytime is updated on a regular basis so please keep checking for the most up-to-date guidance.

    Regards

    Internal Comms

    The current situation surrounding Covid-19 has meant that we have taken the decision to make changes to the way we progress some of our employee relations processes until further notice. These processes include:  

    • supporting attendance  
    • performance management 
    • discipline 
    • grievance 
    • bullying and harassment.   

    There are a number of factors that have necessitated this approach and these are explained in the Employee Relations Protocol.  We would ask you to read it carefully so that you understand your responsibility as managers in dealing with all current and future issues that may arise over the coming weeks.   

    If you are a manager of employees actively involved in any of these management processes, or you have been appointed as an Investigating Officer, we would ask that you contact those individuals involved as soon as possible to advise of any changes and the time-frame involved (this is detailed in the protocol and will depend on the policy being followed and the stage it is currently at).   

    To clarify, all cases will remain active, but we have amended some of our processes in order to comply with government advice around social distancing and to ensure the safety of all our employees during this difficult time.  

    If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact @EmployeeRelations 

    Good morning colleagues,

    We witnessed another seismic shift last week as both governments stepped up public health measures in response to COVID-19. Last week saw the virus spread across London and the scale of preparation for casualties and fatalities is unprecedented in modern times.  

    The potential enormity of harm coming towards our own city, our citizens and our colleagues – is heart-breaking. And I know we’ll all feel that. It’s important to bring our emotions and feelings into our work – that shows our humanity. At the same time, the city and our staff need us to be calm, focused and practical in order that we come through this. So, let’s lean in together and use our Leadership Forum community to support each other and ensure we’re supporting our staff, who may, like you, be personally affected by this health crisis. The flexible, agile workforce of the future that we were committed to building before COVID-19 will be called on in the next few months like never before, but I know we’re up to the challenge.

    The Response Plan – Risk Register and Issues Log

    You’ve shown unbelievable resilience this week in light of the new measures announced by government, as we had to re-set the Response Plan. We are all so used to setting a plan and then sticking to it. The situation we’re in doesn’t allow that. We can’t be trapped in our plan and stick it rigidly.   We are going to have to keep our response plan under review in order to ensure our planning assumptions continue to be relevant. These planning assumptions – for example, the pace of the spread, the numbers affected and the number of fatalities – have to be kept under weekly review so that we can reset, if required. We’ve got to be ready to deviate from the plan. Remember we have no precedent of this scale to rely on – we are facing many  unknowns. We are trying all the time to understand “cause and effect”.

    I need your help with this review of the planning assumptions and the resetting of the Response Plan. We need all our eyes and ears on this situation. Whilst it might feel like there is a lot of uncertainty now, the pandemic’s basic course and effect are known. But we do need to keep investing in information – collecting it, interpreting it and sharing it – so that we have the best situational awareness as possible. In order to do this in a structured way, Gale Beattie, as last  week’s Duty Emergency Response Coordinator (DERC),  pushed us forward with the creation of a series of operational and corporate risk registers with an associated issues log for each register. Please share your voice with me through the issues logs – be very clear and direct on any concerns you have which you think require us to change the planning assumptions and/or the response. Your Senior Management Team will have access to the registers and issues log – please feed in anything arising through your Service Managers.

    Covid-19 Testing

    This week saw the creation of our critical services list. These are the services and staff groups which are critical to the city’s overall rescue and recovery efforts. In the anxiety everyone is feeling in terms of the health protection of their own families, I know everyone wants to be tested. However, the capacity of NHS does not allow that. And in the days and weeks ahead, choices will have to be made about which non-NHS staff are prioritised for this testing, to enable continued rescue and recovery efforts. You will appreciate that our decision making will have to be influenced by our defined list of critical services. This is to ensure that we assemble and protect the resources which are best able to respond to the complexity of this health crisis. This may prove difficult for both our staff and citizens to understand and I will need your help to explain this.

    Everyone must come through this – we can’t leave anyone behind

    Our overall priority is about protecting people from harm – both in response to COVID-19 and through the support of adults, children and families that we provided support to pre-COVID-19, which we must keep going. As we chart our way through these priorities, we are also managerially adapting to much of the organisation now working remotely. Andy MacDonald’s most recent blog demonstrated how much of a shift has happened. We cannot be certain about the duration of this pandemic and colleagues may be working remotely for some time to come. The situation we’re in presents a lot of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. However, we are steadily adjusting to these being our norms and adapting our plans, priorities accordingly. Let’s stay connected and support each other through this.

    The chats in the corridor, the occasional coffee at Costa, the bumping into each other at physical meetings – were all previously part of the social fabric of the organisation. And how people-built relationships and support networks. It’s vital that we consciously think about how we replicate these old ways in a digital environment whilst also thinking about new ways of being connected using the technology. So, I’ll look forward to having a virtual coffee with you!

    All our lives – work and home- are being stripped back to the bare by COVID-19 and I guess we’re all thinking right now about what’s important to us. As CEO of Aberdeen city council, it is important to me that

    1. We play as full a part as we can in the rescue and recovery efforts in response to this health crisis and we ensure that no one in Aberdeen is left behind;
    2. That we show our organisational humanity for the effect this is having on staff and citizens both in the short, medium and long term;
    3. And that we work together as One Team now and throughout the duration of this pandemic

    I simply ask that you continue to “Do what you can, with what you have and where you can”

    Stay safe

    Angela

    Dear Colleagues

    Following Government guidance that people should only leave their house for limited reasons, including: 

    • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible. 
    • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household. 
    • any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. 
    • travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home. 

    Police Officers are being encouraged to engage with any individuals they encounter to check they meet these criteria and, if appropriate, ask them to return home.    

    This will mean that ACC staff travelling to the workplace or undertaking work in the city are likely to be approached by Police Officers who will verify their attendance at work as being absolutely necessary (not able to be done from home) and what work is being carried out.  An explanation of who you are, and an ACC identification will be sufficient should staff be approached. This may change in the coming days and we will be in touch if this is the case and if any further documentation from ACC is required. 

    Staff should only be travelling to a place of work (outside the home) where they have a specific role or task to deliver which cannot be done from home and is in support of one of our defined critical services.  

    If a member of staff is not delivering one of the listed critical services and their role cannot be done from home service managers may need to temporarily stand down the service in discussion with their Chief Officer and the staff member should go home. If they can perform another task from home, prioritising but not restricted to work on the critical list, or if they are needed for an alternative critical service they should be asked to do so through the line management structure, or by signing up to the temporary movement scheme

    If a service has been closed or stood down staff should not attend a place of work without critical work to do, which cannot be done from home, and should go home. 

    As per earlier communications to all staff please see PeopleAnytime for the list of critical services and a decision tree to support you.  

    Additional managers advice is available on the Coronavirus Managers Guidance pages  

    Dear colleagues,

    As part of our continuing efforts to align with government guidelines, support the health and wellbeing of staff and customers, and maintain resilience for the delivery of critical services, please ensure that everyone who can do their role at home is encouraged to do so wherever possible. Please ensure that all staff you manage are aware of this and you have made a suitable plan with them around business continuity.

    Some staff, due to the nature of their roles in the delivery of services, may not able to work from home. In situations where roles or particular tasks cannot be performed at home, social distancing should be maintained. For people with increased risk factors, please adhere to the guidance below.

    Anyone with one of the identified medical conditions is advised to practice especially stringent social distancing.

    • If they cannot do this and perform their role, they should be advised to go home on special leave.

    Staff who receive a letter this week from the NHS advising them to undertake shielding for 12 weeks – as a result of being deemed extremely vulnerable from Covid-19 – must be supported to do so. Anyone in the same household as someone receiving this letter is advised to adhere to social distancing and managers should email Employee Relations for advice.

    Please keep in regular contact with team members working from home. For more working from home practicalities and tips, see this blog post.

    Remember that you or your team members need to record their status on CoreHR so that we have accurate information about the health of our workforce. There is full guidance for managers here.

    All the latest Coronavirus information and signposting can be found on People Anytime

    Best wishes,

    Internal Comms

    Dear colleagues,
    On Wednesday we shared information for managers with the Leadership Forum, this is now published on the Intranet. If you have not seen this yet, please familiarise yourself with the advice and in particular, guidance on staff with underlying medical conditions and prioritisation for working from home.
    A number of temporary provisions regarding COVID – 19 (Coronavirus) have been put in place today to support all staff at this time. This is a continually evolving picture and these provisions are aimed at supporting business continuity whilst balancing employee health, wellbeing and other pressures at this challenging time. We would ask managers to agree with individual employees how and if they can continue to contribute in ways that may need to be flexible and may be different to “normal” working. These provisions are:
    1. All staff will receive normal pay during any periods of sickness absence relating to COVID- 19 regardless of their entitlements due to qualifying service and/or previous sickness absence.
    2. Temporary amendment of our smarter working guidance, which currently states that “Suitable arrangements for care of dependents must be in place while an individual is Homeworking i.e. the homeworker cannot act as a carer at the same time as they are home working”. This clause is relaxed to allow flexibility in supporting business continuity. As a manager, please discuss and agree balanced working arrangements with any staff who can practically support childcare and working from home.
    3. The use of special leave has been extended for certain situations relating to COVID – 19 these are:
    a) Those Self-Isolating on medical advice
    b) Those with an underlying medical condition who are unable to social distance effectively and continue to work
    c) Those with emergency caring requirements who are unable to work from home
    On point 3.c – this amounts to a temporary amendment of the special leave policy and means that where an employee has an emergency childcare need and they are not able to undertake their work, or another task that we may ask them to do and balance childcare provision, then they can make use of up to 7 days special paid leave (rather than being on unpaid leave as per our usual policy). This provision can be used where an employee is for example unable to access emergency childcare provision as a “key worker”. Further information about emergency childcare for key workers will follow for all staff.
    4. More flexibility around when hours are worked in agreement with your employee. Being mindful of Working Time Directive and that this is by agreement and not automatically subject to any enhancements such as Overtime or Non-Standard Working Week Allowances.
    These measures will remain under review and offer support to staff now in a time of uncertainty, whilst we are expecting guidance to emerge on this issue from Scottish Government and we will communicate any further developments.
    ACTION FOR ALL PEOPLE MANAGERS
    To assist with the monitoring of Coronavirus there is a requirement for all managers to use CoreHR to record staff who are unavailable to attend their normal place of work during the outbreak. This means that we have accurate information, on a day-to-day basis, about where people are working, whether they have symptoms and if they are self-isolating.
    Email from Isla Newcombe – 20 March 2020, 11:14am
    To assist with decision making on staff presenting with symptoms or underlying medication
    conditions, please see Coronavirus Decision Flowchart
    Any team members performing alternative working arrangements need to update CoreHR as follows
    (you can do this on their behalf):
    Sick Leave*
    *To be used where an individual has symptoms and is unable to work due to COVID-19
    COVID – Symptoms
    COVID – Working from Home/Alt Work*
    *To be used where an individual is able to undertake work from home but is impacted
    by COVID-19
    COVID – Self Isolation e.g. one of your family members has symptoms.
    COVID – Underlying Medical Condition e.g. if you are considered under the at-risk
    category.
    COVID – Alternative to Normal Work to reduce social contact e.g. home working
    COVID – Caring Responsibilities
    Special Leave Paid *
    *To be used where an individual is unable to work from home or in an alternative way
    but is impacted by COVID-19.
    COVID – Self Isolating
    COVID – Underlying Medical Condition
    COVID – Caring Responsibilities
    Please stay in regular contact with all team members and check in on their health and wellbeing,
    updating CoreHR as needed to reflect changing circumstances.
    ACTION FOR EVERYONE:
    Ensure that all team members have updated their next of kin on CoreHR. If you have team members
    without CoreHR log-ins, please ask them to submit this information along with their payroll number
    to AskHR.
    Finally, take a look at the Working from Home guidance on the Intranet and ensure your team
    members are able to stay in contact by using their own devices for work, if you are both happy to do
    this.
    We will continue to share updates regularly in the coming days. I know this is a challenging period
    with ongoing uncertainty and I want to thank all of you for your continued efforts to support
    employees in your teams whilst responding to your own challenges and pressures.
    Please direct any queries not answered by the online support to @EmployeeRelations and be
    mindful that this team are experiencing a high volume of support requests and are doing their
    utmost to help all managers at this time.
    Kind regards
    Isla

    Good morning colleagues,

    Firstly, can I thank you all for the calmness and resilience you’ve shown to date in response to COVID-19. This is and  is likely to continue to be,  a very dynamic and changing situation . I’m very grateful for the support and understanding that you’ve shown our staff and citizens  throughout this period.  Understandably many staff  are anxious about the situation. And of course,  I fully appreciate that, like everyone else, you will be anxious and concerned about the well being of your own families at this time too.  As I was thinking about you last night, the words of Rudyard Kipling came into my mind:

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too:
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

    The poem is of its time but the message is clear and I think relevant for the time we’re in.

    This is going to be an evolving situation, with continued uncertainty and ambiguity potentially for some time  and we will need to steer a path through it, both for the organisation and the city more broadly. So calm heads, as Kipling says, are indeed required amongst us as the leaders of this organisation. We face the dual challenge of responding appropriately to this situation, whilst trying to maintain business as usual, given the necessity of many of the services we provide.

    This isn’t going to be easy, but I am very  confident about our collective  ability to steer a way forward. I’m seeing all our guiding principles in action:

    • One Team, One Council, One city
    • We care about our purpose, our organisation and our people
    • We trust each other and take responsibility
    • We value each other and recognise

    And from me to you – I have a huge amount of pride in what your doing and the work your doing to make this situation better.

    So as a leadership team, lets ensure we’re supporting each other to get our colleagues and citizens of Aberdeen through this. And please ensure you are heeding all the public health advice in terms of your own wellbeing and that of your families.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Dear Leadership Forum,

    Following Government advice, we are now asking managers to support working from home wherever possible and meetings should be arranged by Microsoft Teams.

    Priority for home working must be given to individuals who have an underlying medical condition in the first instance. For others it should be supported where:

    • Service delivery can be maintained through working from home and an individual’s role allows it
    • Critical services will still be delivered
    • Overall business continuity can be maintained as per your Cluster’s plan. If you are unsure of whether you can support an individual to work from home, speak to a member of your senior management team.

    Please discuss the practicalities of this with your staff to ensure that critical services are maintained. All statutory work should be maintained as a priority and other means of communications should be considered as an alternative to face-to-face contact where possible. Please make staff aware that all arrangements are constantly under review, based on changing Government advice, and the needs of critical services.

    We recognise that many of our staff cannot work from home and are delivering essential frontline services. Please consider every measure to protect your staff who are at risk, for example alternative working arrangements that seek to reduce or remove contact with other people. Ensure that you follow any specific medical advice that has been given to team members.

    If it is not possible to put measures in place to protect people who are at risk and not possible for them to work from home, then you can agree special leave arrangements. The @EmployeeRelations team are available by email if you have any specific questions. In the first instance please refer to our webpages on the intranet, which are constantly being updated.

    • For guidance on how to use Microsoft Teams for home working, please see Digital Workplace
    • You can now use your personal phone/tablet for home working, see update here.

    We’ll be back in touch later on today with additional guidance and will be in regular contact over the coming days and weeks.

    Kind regards,

    Isla

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