Our response to COVID-19
Due to the current public health crisis owing to the novel Coronavirus and Covid-19, we find ourselves living through extraordinary times.
Matrix has always prided itself on being a flexible and adaptable service provider; never losing sight of the fact that we are here to work in partnership with, and safeguard the rights of people who face certain challenges in their lives, ensuring that their voice is heard in their day to day lives.
We now find ourselves in the position where a visit to our clients in care homes, their own homes, public spaces, acute hospital, mental health hospitals, etc. could inadvertently spread the virus amongst our team, our families or across the various sites we visit, and that has the potential for serious consequences, especially to those in the Government’s identified ‘vulnerable groups’.
However, Matrix provides statutory services and our advocates may offer the only independent safeguard of our clients’ rights – quite rightly recognised by central Government as a designated ‘Keyworker’ role.
We have developed dynamic strategies in order to respond quickly to the various developments and Government advice. Accordingly, with great reluctance we have made the difficult decision to transition to a home-working model across virtually all of our services.
We work with over 400 individuals in care homes where the nature of their care and treatment makes them subject to a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) Authorisation. We fulfil the crucial role of paid Relevant Persons Representative (RPR) and usually visit them on a regular basis, ensuring their care and treatment remains in their best interests.
Following the decision taken by care homes in mid-March 2020 to close to all non-essential visitors, it has been challenging to fulfil this role. In our new model we continue to work closely with the care homes, telephoning in on a more frequent basis for updates on individuals, using a checklist we have developed to monitor their care and treatment decisions. We are also exploring ways to communicate directly with the clients based on their specific needs and abilities. This is an ongoing and developing approach.
The route of access to our services across Surrey and Berkshire remain the same as always. This enables access to support from the whole team by telephone, Skype and FaceTime portals.
Across the various hospital sites where we have a presence, we have provided additional contact details of the relevant assigned advocates.
Our new site-specific flyers are available to download below.
We are working closely with all our partners to ensure as far as practicable and possible, that access to advocacy is supported for all who would benefit from it. We are prioritising all NHS and Local Authority referrals from hospitals to aid them in discharge or serious medical treatment decisions for those currently in hospital, but unable to consent to those decisions (and with no one else appropriate to consult) via our Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA) service. This frees up bed space, whilst maintaining the individual’s statutory right to an advocate.
As an organisation we have always utilised technology and we have found that the current situation has facilitated new ways for us to work. We hope to update our website to include videos explaining the rights of people who are subject to the Mental Health Act.
If you or a client need support from an advocate, please continue to contact us and we will do our utmost to support you and find ways that work for you.
In the meantime, stay well, stay safe, support each other and those around you who may need help (remember social distancing!) and follow the guidelines issued by the Government and Public Health England.
Take care everyone, we will get through this.