School Closures

General Coronavirus Update 6th May 2020

Significant debate is taking place nationally regarding the timing and approach for schools and settings to reopen. Further guidance is due to be released this week, which will enable the LA and school leaders to co-ordinate local planning, particularly in relation to areas such as transition.

Testing for care home residents

General Coronavirus Update 6th May 2020 Coronavirus (COVID-19)

If you are resident in a care home, you will be tested where you live.  The manager of the home can register you for a test – so check that they have done so.  If they haven’t, tell them this needs to be done.  It is highly unlikely they will not want to register you for a test as it is a free service and helps reassure all those who pay for people to live there!

Testing is in your interests because the earlier you start treatment for the virus, the better the chance of avoiding severe complications. 

The test may be done either by a mobile testing unit that visits the home, or by taking a home test with a home testing kit.  Once the sample has been taken, it will be collected by courier and sent for analysis.

Your result will be sent to the manager of the home, so they can inform you of the result and next steps that need to be taken.  For example, being moved to reduce the risk of spreading the infection.  This is only for test results for COVID19 – all other test results will be treated in the normal way.

If you have a Power of Attorney who is legally responsible for you, the result will also be shared with them.  For English residents, your test result will also be sent to your GP to update your medical records.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update 5th May 2020 SEND Special

1.    SEND service changes and COVID-19 support:

Lifetime ServiceSirona care & health, Children’s Hospice South West and Jessie May are working together to meet the urgent and essential needs of the families that we care for through this challenging time.  The first priority is to ensure that children remain cared for and supported in the community wherever possible and appropriate. From 11 April, a dedicated telephone number offering 24/7 access to advice and support from a nurse with hospice/community care experience has been provided to families directly.

Speech and Language Therapy – Some regular clinical activities are paused until further notice.  This includes:

Early Years Advice Drop ins

  • Training Sessions
  • Group therapy sessions and support groups
  • All school based activities.

Telephone advice and information services:

There are now dedicated telephone advice and information services, including the following specifically for SEN and Disabled children and young people.

  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Bristol and S. Glos: call 0300 125 6207 or 0300 125 6206.
  • Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, all areas: 07917 393196
  • Specialist Community Paediatrics, Bristol and S. Glos.:  01454 865190
  • Speech and Language Therapy, Bristol and S. Glos.: 07825 016335

 These phone lines will run until further notice, and will be staffed from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. For health information and advice about coronavirus, please go to the NHS 111 website in the first instance.

2.    Coronavirus (COVID-19): Special Educational Needs and Disabilities update for parents

To find out about a range of service updates, click here: covid-19-special-educational-needs-and-disabilities-update-for-parents

3.    Council and CCG response to the OFSTED and CQC Reports on SEND provision in Bristol

The Council and CCG have released the details of how they plan to address the weaknesses of SEND provision for the people of Bristol, along with written evidence that their proposals have been accepted.

You can find full details, and more information at:

4.    Coronavirus (COVID-19) and related resources for SEND children and young people

Contact – Information for families with disabled childrenInformation about coronavirus and helpful resources for families with Disabled children.
Bristol Royal Hospital for Children – Easy read information about coronavirusEasy read for children and young people with disabilities of learning difficulties .
Book Island – Picture books on VimeoAward-winning Bristol based publisher of picture books
    Bristol Autism Team – Preparing for more time at home      Tips for parents of children with autism for spending more time at home
Bristol Autism Team – Tips for supporting children with autismAdvice on supporting children emotionally and practically.
Bristol Educational Psychology Service – Improving concentration at homeStep-by-step guide on improving concentration for the whole family.

If you have trouble reading section 4, you can access more information on what’s available at:

World Health Organisation (WHO): Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Myth busters

While the internet and social media is full of information, mostly it is entertainment and opinion – NOT fact! 

Read below if you want to know what is fact about COVID-19.

5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19

Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks.  COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks.

COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.  People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose. 

Title: ENG-Mythbusting-nCoV (15) - Description: Blue background with the two paragraphs below, on the lefthand side, and the phrase ' FACT:5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19.

Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks.  COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks.
COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.  People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose.

Jargon: respiratory means any part of the body to do with breathing.

Exposing yourself to the sun or to temperatures higher than 25C degrees DOES NOT prevent the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is.  Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19.  To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.  

Title: FACT: Exposing yourself to the sum or to temperatures higher than 25C DOES NOT prevent the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) - Description: Blue background with icon depicting a sun and, next to it, a cartoon person holding their head and coughing.

On the lefthand side it reads:
You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is.  Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19.  To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

You can recover from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).  Catching the new coronavirus DOES NOT mean you will have it for life.

Most of the people who catch COVID-19 can recover and eliminate the virus from their bodies. If you catch the disease, make sure you treat your symptoms. If you have cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early – but call your health facility by telephone first. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.


Jargon: eliminate means to get rid of.

Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort DOES NOT mean you are free from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or any other lung disease.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, tiredness and fever.  Some people may develop more severe forms of the disease, such as pneumonia.  The best way to confirm if you have the virus producing COVID-19 disease is with a laboratory test.  You cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise, which can even be dangerous.

MB_breathing exercice

Drinking alcohol does not protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous

No.  Frequent or excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of health problems. 


Jargon: excessive means a lot too much.

COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates

From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather.  Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19.  The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands.  By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

FACT: Coronavirus transmission in hot and humid climates

Jargon: transmitted means passed from one person, or place, to another.

Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus.

There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases.  The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather.  The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.


Jargon: external means on the outside.

Taking a hot bath does not prevent the new coronavirus disease

Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19.  Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower.  Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you.  The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands.  By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

MB_hot bath

The new coronavirus CANNOT be transmitted through mosquito bites.

To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes.  The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.  To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.  Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.

MB_mosquito bite

Are hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirus?

No.  Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV.  To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.  Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.


Can an ultraviolet disinfection lamp kill the new coronavirus?

UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.


How effective are thermal scanners in detecting people infected with the new coronavirus?

Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the new coronavirus.

However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever.  This is because it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.


Jargon: A thermal scanner is a machine that can measure the level of heat in any area, person or thing.

Can spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body kill the new coronavirus?

No.  Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body.  Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth).  Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.


Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus?

No.  Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.

The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine.  Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts.

Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is strongly recommended to protect your health.


Can regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?

No.  There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus. 

There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold.  However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.


Jargon: Saline is water with salt added to it.

Can eating garlic help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?

Garlic is a healthy food that may have some anti-microbial properties.  However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.


Jargon: Antimicrobial means attacks microbes

Does the new coronavirus only affect older people, or are younger people also susceptible?

People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).  Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. 

WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.


Jargon: Pre-existing medical conditions means conditions that someone already had before COVID-19.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?

No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.

The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, so, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

However, if you are hospitalised for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.


Jargon: Bacterial co-infection means having an infection caused by a bacteria as well as having a virus like COVID-19

Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?

To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care.  Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials.  WHO is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range or partners.


Jargon: ‘Optimised supportive care’ means the maximum effective care.  ‘Accelerate’ means to make quicker or faster.

Coronavirus 4th May 2020 – National Update

  Why not brush up your skills while you’re on lockdown?

The UK Government has launched a free-to-use online skills toolkit that people currently at home because of lockdown can use to develop their skills [link].

Daily numbers of COVID-19 infection reducing

On 30th April, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s delivered a statement on Covid-19.  He confirmed for the first time that the country was past the peak of this disease and that Government would be setting out a plan next week on the steps on releasing lockdown measures. [link].

Coronavirus Update Monday 4th May 2020 – Local Update

  No VAT on PPE – for now

From 30th April, PPE purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against Covid-19 are free from VAT for a three-month period [link].

Bristol Ageing Better Support Hub

Bristol Ageing Better has launched a new Support Hub for older people and their families to cope with the impact of Covid-19 in Bristol. They provide a range of practical, emotional and social support. The Support Hub has been developed by a partnership of several voluntary organisations that already work to support older people in Bristol [link].

Need cheering up?

Belly Laughs at home will be a night of Bristol-based comedy raising money for four good causes on Sunday 10 May [link].

COVID-19 testing

The Council has also written to Direct Payment recipients to ensure their personal assistants can access testing if they meet the criteria, thanks to Bristol Disability Equality Forum’s influencing work.

“Last week we had a question from Laura Welti of Bristol Disability Equality Forum with reference to Personal Assistants being added to the key worker list.  I’m very happy to tell you that, following a conversation between myself and Sally Hogg, we can confirm that Personal Assistants are now on that list for testing. …….. thank you, Laura.”. (Sandra Meadows, Voscur CEO).

Worried about a vulnerable person’s safety?

While we all stay home across Bristol, we need to look out for children and vulnerable adults, including elderly people, who may be harmed in their homes.  If you are worried about someone you know, we encourage you to tell someone so they can get the right help.  If a child or adult is at immediate risk of harm call the police on 999.

Help for children:

If you are worried about a child’s safety, you can call Bristol’s Children and Families Services on 0117 903 6444 for advice, support, or let them know about a child you are concerned for.

If you want to speak to someone anonymously about any worries you have for a child, you can call the NSPCC 24 hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 or text 88858

Childline continues to run their services for children who want someone to talk to at this time, including online chat.

Help for adults:

Next Link provides support services, and can help arrange emergency accommodation, for women and girls who have experienced domestic or sexual abuse. You can speak to someone on live chat or by calling 0117 925 0680.

Support for male victims of domestic abuse is available from Victim Support on 07432  504 692 or email: bristolmens.dasupport@victimsupport .

National domestic abuse 24 hour helpline: 0808 200 0247

If you are concerned an adult may be being neglected or abused call Bristol’s Care Direct on 0117 922 2700.

Testing in care homes

When the Forum, asked how we can possibly get an accurate picture on the number of COVID-19 deaths in the city, when hardly anyone in care homes is tested – even if they have COVID-19 systems, Sally Hogg, from Public Health said:

“This week testing is now going to be available to everyone in care homes, staff and residents, so we will soon have a much better picture of what is happening”.

This is good to hear as it is highly likely that a high number of the deaths of Disabled people are completely hidden because, until now, only the first two people in a care home who develop symptoms were tested – no matter how many others in the care home became ill, or died.

How are you experiencing the COVID-19 outbreak? BDEF Survey

How are you experiencing the
COVID-19 Outbreak?

We are asking you to complete this survey so we can make sure that Disabled people are getting their needs met and being treated fairly. We will use the information to negotiate any improvements that are needed with local councils and the NHS locally. 

Thank you for completing this survey. We will use the findings to make sure you get the support you need, and to prioritise what support we offer at this difficult time.

Disability within the fashion industry: A buying proposal for a womenswear S/S 2021 adaptive clothing range for Collusion.

Can you help Cerys with her Research Project?

This project is looking into how disability is addressed within the fashion industry and investigating how the fashion industry can effectively address functional diverse consumers’ needs as it has been identified from research that there is a lack of adaptive clothing ranges offered from UK Highstreet brands.

This research will then allow me to propose for a womenswear S/S 2021 adaptive clothing collection for fashion brand Collusion. I (Cerys) have chosen to conduct this research due to a personal interest in inclusivity and embracing all within fashion.

Please can all responses be sent to Cerys directly by next Monday 11th May if possible, on this email: 

Services being offered by Brigstowe

Information taken directly from Brigstowe May 2020 E-Bulletin

Telephone Befriending
Not having someone to talk to regularly can be lonely, particularly at a time like this. During the COVID-19 situation Brigstowe will be offering a  telephone befriending service where one of our trained volunteers can chat with you on the phone weekly.  
Hearing a friendly voice can make all the difference in times like these. The befriender will check in with you, see how you are getting on & provide you information on support available if you need it.

Hardship Grant
In recognition of the financial impact that COVID-19 is having on many of our clients, Brigstowe has set up a Hardship Fund to assist clients with the following needs:

  • Mobile Bundles (including internet data)
  • Computer, tablet or smartphone
  •  Other urgent needs (excluding rent)

Many factors will be taken into consideration when awarding the grants including level  of income, level of isolation and the need for an internet    connection.  We have limited funds available and therefore we may not be able to assist everyone who asks for help.

The decision of Brigstowe is final and there will be no right of appeal.

For more information on either of these services or if you, or someone you know, require any form of support please contact your Support Worker in the usual way, call the Office on: 0117 955 5038 or drop us an email on:

COVID-19 Update 30th April 2020

1.          Care Homes

You will probably have heard on the news that people in care homes are at high risk of catching COVID-19.

We have been lobbying the Council about not discharging people from hospital into a care home while they are assessed about what support they need to return to their own home, since the start of the COVID-19 Lockdown.  

We have been saying that care homes are high risk places and that patients should not be discharged to them, because it creates a further risk for those who already live there, and for those being sent there.

Perhaps now that national figures show we were right, and that there are no less than 35 care services in Bristol with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases, they will listen to us.

2.          Council supplies of PPE (personal protective equipment) supplies for your PAs or carer[s]

We are getting different feedback on the difficulty of getting PPE supplies if you employ your own PAs e.g. you’re on Direct Payments, or are supported by one or more carers. 

We want to collect evidence about how well the system is, or isn’t, working.  To do this we need to know about your experience so can you please answer the following questions and forward the to us:


Post: Bristol DEF, St. Paul’s Learning Centre, Grosvenor Rd, Bristol BS2 8XJ

Text only: 07810 506730


Twitter: BDEFbites

Instagram: BDEFbites

a. Have you asked the Council for PPE supplies for your PAs or carer[s]?

b. Have you received them yet?  

c. If the answer is Yes, how long did it take to get them?

d. If the answer is No, how long have you been waiting?

Please send us your answers by Friday 8th May 2020.

3.          Employ your own PAs?

Bristol City Council have said they are writing to Direct Payment recipients to ensure their personal assistants can access testing if they meet the criteria e.g. they have symptoms of COVID-19.  

This has only happened because the Forum highlighted to the Council that PAs to people on Direct Payments need testing as much as care home workers.  The Council listened, and very quickly added PAs to the official list of who is a key worker.

The demand for testing has been very high so, if you have a PA who fits the criteria listed in the letter, or you do yourself, book your slot as soon as the letter arrives.

4.    Hours reduced, redundancy, furloughed and qualify for Universal Credit?

The Council’s Future Bright employment support programme, funded by the DWP and WECA has expanded its eligibility to include 1 to 1 support, not only for those who are in work and claiming benefits to get by, but to now include:

–   Those who have been made redundant, laid off or are at risk of redundancy, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic;

–   Employees whose hours have been significantly reduced, and who therefore have a lower income (e.g. zero hours, cut from full to part time);

–   Self-employed workers, where their ability to earn has been severely impacted due to the nature of their business;

–   Furloughed employees, if their reduced income means they are eligible for Universal Credit.

For further information contact or call 0117 9222250.

5.    Council-run cemeteries and crematoriums open again

Council-run cemeteries and crematoriums will be open again from Thursday 30 April.  BUT, this will be on restricted hours: 

  • from 4pm-8pm on weekday evenings and 
  • from 10am-6pm on weekends. 

They are only open to those who have friends/families whose remains are there, NOT for exercise.

Please respect these spaces for people to grieve and mourn their loved ones, and take your daily exercise in the parks.

6.    More funding for local authorities but nowhere near enough

Government has announced another £1.6billion funding for local councils.  In Bristol, that means we’ve received £13m so far, and are due to get approx. £12.5m from the latest announcement.

However, between the extra costs of dealing with COVID-19 and the lost income, the figures are:

£29m spent on additional social care and other costs;

£80m in lost revenue;

= £109m, 


£13m received previously, and

£12.5m due.

This means the Council has received £89.5m less than it needs, and this excludes the spending that will be needed to help people in Bristol recover financially from COVID-19.

So, if you have any influence at a national level, please do tell the government that, if more funding isn’t provided to local councils, there will be no money left to provide any local services by the time the pandemic has ended.