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our response to Coronavirus

Latest information on our response to Coronavirus

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13th May 2020

‘Installing Appello Smart Living Solutions whilst adhering to government workplace guidance:’

As the COVID-19 pandemic has developed in the UK, Appello have been very quick to adhere to guidelines and implement measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our customers, service users and staff.

We have invested in and implemented many changes which we are delighted have enabled us to maintain delivery of the vital services we offer to over 200,000 vulnerable individuals across the UK.

Additionally, we have been pleased to hear from customers that during this pandemic their investment in our digital telecare suite, Smart Living Solutions, has been hugely beneficial. Many of the features have improved the wellbeing of residents and supported their housing organisation to cope with these unprecedented challenges.

“As a provider of retirement housing who uses the Appello system throughout many of our schemes, we are directly experiencing the advantages of the video interaction and remote working connectivity to our sites. This is providing a significant benefit during this period of social isolation / distancing from a social and wellbeing perspective.”
David Mayes, Property Improvement Manager, Housing21

As the situation has evolved, we have anticipated that some workplace guidelines would remain in place longer term, and therefore how we operate would need to be adapted accordingly. As an example, over the last 6 weeks we have been working hard to determine and implement new operating processes that enable us to deliver the orders for Smart Living Solutions that we are continuing to receive.

Earlier this week, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), published the guidance ‘Working safely during COVID-19 in other people’s homes’. We have reviewed these extensively and identified those relating to the deployment of new Smart Living Solutions provision.

We are pleased that these guidelines protect the wellbeing of our customers, service users and staff whilst enabling us to safely install and commission Smart Living Solutions. To ensure we meet these guidelines we have:

  • refined our COVID-19 Method Statement to ensure it incoporates the latest Government recommendations on social distancing and a detailed explanation of how we adhere to each recommendation.
  • invested in PPE and clinical-grade sanitising kits that have been distributed to our installation teams.

Our Method Statement outlines how we meet all the relevant Government recommendations and our processes for the use of PPE, Sanitising Kits and social distancing.

We are delighted that many customers are keen to introduce Smart Living Solutions imminently to replace old Telecare equipment that has provided no extra support for social inclusion, or operational efficiency during this time. We are pleased they recognise the substantial benefits of deploying Smart Living Solutions during these restrictions and we are committed to ensuring this is done safely and whilst adhering to Government guidelines.

If you have any questions at all about our approach to COVID-19, please visit
www.appello.co.uk/COVID-19 or contact us at digitalsupport@appello.co.uk

Tim Barclay, CEO, Appello


17th April 2020

‘An update from Appello’

On behalf of everyone at Appello, we hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe at this time.

As the government has announced that we will maintain strict social distancing measures for at least another three week, we wanted to let you know what’s been happening at Appello.

Over the past few weeks we have been working incredibly hard to ensure that we continue to deliver the vital service we offer to over 200,000 vulnerable individuals across the UK. It’s been a challenge, but one we are very proud to say our teams have been up for.

As recognised keyworkers we have maintained a strong core of employees and management working across our three, monitoring centres in Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire. We have implemented appropriate safety measures where possible and have been able to ensure desks are a minimum of two meters apart.

Our investment in our award-winning digital call handling platform, has enabled us to implement working from home where operators need to self-isolate, but are fit to work. We have set out stringent guidelines for how service will be delivered under those circumstances and have been monitoring compliance constantly.

We are delighted that implementing these instances of working from home have helped support our service levels. In fact, we have found these capabilities provide us with greater ability to meet sudden changes in call traffic.

The last few weeks have given us even greater pride in the services our teams deliver to the most vulnerable in our communities. We’ve received some great messages of appreciation and these have really helped to maintain the morale of our teams. If you would like to share any feedback, or have any queries please contact customerrelations@appello.co.uk.

Below are a just a couple of the comments from the last few days:

“It is much appreciated that you are updating us on the measures Appello is taking in maintaining the excellent standards that it gives in these difficult times. This is also a great comfort for our residents. We hope all your employees continue to stay safe, and they should be reassured with the stringent guidelines that you have implemented.”
Crossfield Housing Association

“I wanted to make contact with you to thank you for your support at this challenging time. Our Contract Manager here at Curo, tells me you have been keeping in regular contact with us and all of your clients to provide updates on the changes you have made to ensure business continuity.

We very much appreciate the efforts you have made to roll out working from home equipment for your team, ensuring you can continue to support our customers out of office. I understand that this has been a significant financial outlay for your business and we thank you for doing this.”
Curo Housing Association

In addition last Thursday evening we were unbelievably touched that a resident decided to press their alarm to come through to our monitoring centre, just so she could clap our operators. It is not something we would recommend as it could impact service, however the gesture was incredibly thoughtful.

Lastly, we recognise that the extended functionality of our digital telecare suite, Smart Living Solutions are supporting housing organisations and their customers through self-isolation and the associated changes in working processes.

A number of our customers have been utilising these capabilities to support communication with residents and changes in the way they operate.

We will now be running two live webinars that will explore these practices with you, and will provided some guidance, with useful instructions, on how Smart Living Solutions can make things a little easier.

If you would like to register for these please visit www.appello.co.uk/events


2nd April 2020

‘Unseen Heroes’

In not much longer than a week, like many businesses, we have made significant adjustments to how we deliver our services.

Our focus has been on maintaining the delivery of the important services we provide, without compromising the welfare of our employees, customers and service users.

It’s been a great team effort, and in the words of one of our customers we have had many ‘unseen heroes’. It is very rewarding to know that our efforts are being noticed, and the positive feedback received from many customers is great motivation for employees who are continuing to work in very unusual circumstances to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable in our communities.

We do not often we give ourselves the ‘pat on the back’ we deserve, but we feel our employees really deserve these comments, and proudly wanted to share a few of them.

“I personally would like to say a huge thank you to you and your colleagues for the hard work that you all do behind the scenes. Granted, the doctors and nurses on the front line are doing an excellent job with the minimum of resources available, but, you and others who work tirelessly behind the scenes supporting our vulnerable owners are priceless and deserve more praise, ‘unseen heroes’.”
Development Manager, FirstPort Scotland

“I was very impressed with the help you gave me to set up my equipment whilst at home self-isolating. You were outstanding and a credit to Appello.”
Resident, Duchess of Kent Court

“I want to pass on some special praise to your team with helping us on telecare equipment compatibility work during these times.”
Operations Manager, Partner

“I would like to express my thanks to all Appello for your continued support during these uncertain times.”
Resident, NRS

“I just want to send my thanks and appreciation for all the support Neil provides on the digital telecare over the phone. He managed to help a resident and myself today at Pearce Smith Court, preventing an engineer visit, that was a difficult one! What Neil doesn’t know about the digital units, is clearly very limited.”
Court Manager

“I am really impressed with how fast you’ve moved as a company to help support our customers, a massive well done to all the team.”
Senior Exec, Leading Housing Provider

Your appreciation is gratefully received and very much appreciated. If you would like to share your experiences please email customerrelations@appello.co.uk

We will continue to provide updates when appropriate.


27th March 2020

A week of commitment, dedication and learnings

It’s been a challenging week for everyone in the UK, but one in which we have learnt that at Appello there is no lack of commitment and desire to maintain our important services for our customers.

Like many businesses we have been implementing new processes and ways of working to maintain operations. We are determined to gain new skills from this experience and one of the initial learnings has been how teams across the business have embraced video technology.

Whilst many of our monitoring teams are continuing to operate from our monitoring centres, other teams are working from home where appropriate. Physical meetings have been replaced by video conference calls and teams are continuing to work effectively.

We have long been advocates for the benefits of video, having implemented video calling into our Smart Living Solutions, now are own teams are reaping these benefits daily.

Our monitoring teams have shown tremendous dedication. Our keyworkers have been going above and beyond to maintain service levels for our customers. We know this has been appreciated from the messages we have received. Just one example received today was from a Mr Bland who called to express his thanks to all Appello for our continued support during these uncertain times.

To support our monitoring teams and recognise their efforts we have been running some fun initiatives from pizza evenings to providing early Easter eggs and goodies. This is a team effort, and our Senior Management Team have been a very busy as you would imagine, but they have also been supporting across every area of the business. From our CEO delivering boot fulls of laptops to operators, too our CFO taking the responsibility of breaking and recycling all packaging from hundreds of newly purchased laptops. This is definitely a team effort.

Lastly, we have already seen customers of Smart Living Solutions grateful for the benefits of digital telecare. There are many obvious benefits of digital telecare in these times, one less touched on is how digital telecare enables remote maintainenece. Where in an analogue world, a site visit would have been required, we are now able to undertake fault resolution remotely, enabling us to maintain social distancing. A grateful manager from Cardiff Council sent us this note yesterday.

“I am just updating you on the Appello system, after receiving a call from your Digital Support Officer, Neil, who I can’t thank enough for his support. He looked into the issue of the communication fault and the problem has been solved remotely”.

We will continue to provide updates when appropriate.


25th March 2020

Recognised Keyworkers

As the UK Government imposes stricter ‘stay at home’ measures to tackle the outbreak of Coronavirus, we have been working hard to ensure we continue to deliver services for our customers.

This is a challenging environment for all organisations but Appello have been planning for these measures from Government in recent weeks.

As we revealed in our previous communication, we have been lobbying, with industry regulatory body the TSA to ensure our employees are classed as ‘Keyworkers’ for the invaluable service they deliver to the vulnerable in our communities. The government recognised this status due to the millions of people who rely on telecare services in the UK.

As a result, our employees will continue to work as normal following measures, guidance and changes to procedures we have put in place. These ensure a safe environment for both employees and our customers.

Our unique position of operating three monitoring centres, in Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire is enabling us to maintain our services and we can implement social distancing between operators in these locations.

Appello have acted swiftly to ensure that every employee is equipped with a laptop. A team effort has ensured that even those self-isolating received their laptop and are equipped to continue to support our customers.

Whilst we continue to operate largely from our monitoring centres, we are gradually implementing operators to work from home under strict guidance. This further provides a level of robustness to our operations and can be escalated further if required.

During these challenging times we will strive to deliver the level of service our customers expect, and we are committed to ensuring the wellbeing of customers, residents and our employees.

We will continue to provide updates when appropriate.


23rd March 2020

Our response to Coronavirus: Updated Monday 23rd March

Over recent weeks we have all seen huge changes in life, work and society. We will continue to reiterate that maintaining our service levels for our customers is a priority, along with the wellbeing of our employees and customers.

Our employees have been going above and beyond, showing exceptional commitment to provide our services for the most vulnerable in our communities.

As a business we have been adapting our processes and procedures where required. We have been acting at exceptional speed and investing where necessary. In just days we have made huge efforts to meet exceptional circumstances.

  • We have been lobbying, as have the industry regulatory body the TSA to ensure our employees are classed as ‘Keyworkers’ for the invaluable service they deliver to the vulnerable in our communities. Late last week the government recognised this. This supports our teams to continue to work, ensuring their children can receive education at school.
  • We have fast tracked, at incredible speed our working from home capabilities for our call handling operators. We have stringent guidelines and parameters to adhere to and currently we are not having to utilise this capability at scale.
  • We have invested significantly in laptops, and our IT teams have worked endlessly to ensure these are all programmed and operational. This provides us with even greater capacity to work remotely if required.
  • We have been working with customers, helping them to utilise our technology to maintain contact with residents whilst also practicing social distancing. We are continuing to invest and develop more into these areas to support our customers.

We are proud of the efforts Appello and our employees are making as a business. Working together is critical and we will continue to provide updates when appropriate.


20th March 2020

Our response to Coronavirus: Updated Friday 20th March

At Appello, we are continuing to actively monitor the rapidly evolving Coronavirus situation.

The delivery of our services is essential, this is understood now more than ever. As social distancing becomes more prevalent, we recognise that more of our vulnerable customers will rely on the services we provide.

We want to ensure our customers that during these challenging times we will strive to deliver the level of service you would expect, and we are also committed to ensuring the wellbeing of customers, residents and our employees. We have already made a series of adjustments to our business to ensure that we are prepared. We are keeping our ways of working under review. We will keep you informed.

Finding out more information

Working together and communicating will be instrumental moving forward. To support this, we are creating a dedicated web page that will be available early next week. This will include:

  • FAQ section for all our customers
  • Steps we are taking to protect our employees, customers and business
  • Changes to procedures
  • Guidance on supporting residents

Additionally, please follow our LinkedIn page for the latest information.

Please look after yourself in your homes and at work and know that we will continue to support our customers wherever possible.


11th March 2020

Statement: Appello’s Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Appello is closely monitoring the evolution of the Coronavirus situation and following The Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) advice for UK businesses.

As a member of the TECS regulatory body, the Telecare Service Association (TSA) we have completed the Quality Standards Framework (QSF) which requires monitoring centres and telecare suppliers to have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place. In addition, we have developed our own plans for Pandemic Business Continuity (PBC), which encompasses this COVID-19 outbreak. These plans are being regularly reviewed.

Appello is constantly evaluating the situation and monitoring any potential impact on effects to service delivery. It’s our intention to use these contingency plans to provide our customers with the best service possible during the outbreak. We have set up a working group to monitor developments and advise the business accordingly.

As a responsible employer we are also issuing regular updates and guidance to all employees who are being encouraged to maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene.

Appello will provide updates as the situation evolves.

Tim Barclay, CEO, Appello


 

FAQs

Coronavirus

If you become aware of a service user with confirmed case of Coronavirus, please update the individuals record through AppelloSBR or if you don’t have access to AppelloSBR, inform the Appello monitoring team via monitoring@appello.co.uk so that we can update our records.
It is the guidance of regional emergency services that this important information is passed to the Emergency Service if we need to direct them to the property.
Currently, you do not need to make Appello aware if a resident is showing symptoms of the virus or has chosen to self-isolate.

Appello will manage calls where Coronavirus has been confirmed in the same manner, following our agreed procedures. We will relay information relating to a diagnosis of Coronavirus to the emergency services as we would with other medical conditions.

Where the individual is showing symptoms of the virus, we will also provide this information to the Emergency Services.

Emergency Services regionally may manage these situations differently and we advise you to look at information published regionally. We will follow the guidance of the Emergency Services and relay this information to the individual caller.

We are aware that the emergency services are currently receiving a higher number of referrals and enquiries. This can impact both upon their telephone response times and the time it takes to arrive at your address. However, by individuals activating their alarm through to Appello, they can be assured that not only will we swiftly call 999, but we will pass all access information at the same time, to reduce delays in accessing a property when the emergency services arrive.

Whilst the call and attendance response times for Emergency Services are outside of our control, we also want to reassure you that we will periodically check on their ETA until we have confirmation that they have arrived. The safety and wellbeing of our customers is of paramount importance.

Due to the current environment Appello are committed to maintaining our existing levels of service. We have contingencies in places to enable this and have Business Continuity Plans  (BCP) that we can call upon, which will support us in managing significant increases in call volumes and/or the impact of our own staff sickness.

We are currently not having to implement these plans, however, appreciate that we are in a very fast changing environment.

To ensure we are best placed to maintain current services levels we are unable to change our procedures to accommodate additional questions for triaging, we will continue to follow agreed procedures which may mean asking the service user to call 111 or for Appello to call 999 on their behalf in an emergency.

Appello are committed to maintaining our existing levels of service in this current environment. To support us in enabling this, Appello will not be able to handle requests for adhoc cover call traffic or additional calls outside of our agreed contract.

Appello will make contractors aware of residents and developments with confirmed cases of Coronavirus if we have been informed of these via monitoring@appello.co.uk.

To support us in maintaining our service levels Appello are unable to put in place additional questioning to residents. As cases are increasing quickly, we recommend that contractors call ahead and ensure that it is appropriate to visit the individual or development.

Appello are putting safeguarding measures in place for employees who may visit customers and to minimise impact on potentially ‘at-risk’ individuals. We are continuously reviewing these procedures and following guidelines from health authorities.

As a result, this may mean a visit to a service user is postponed, for example to install a personal alarm.  In these cases, the service users key contacts or referring agency will be advised so that local measures can be put in place.

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Guidance on how Smart Living Solutions can support you during COVID-19

Whilst adhering to guidance on self-isolation and reduced social contact it is important to still maintain communication and where possible have face to face contact. Smart Living Solutions can enable this with:

  • Video calling between residents and staff
  • I’m OK notifications to reassure staff of wellbeing.
  • Video door entry to safely monitor access to the building.

Our video gallery below provides guidance on using these features.

 

 

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Supporting over 200,000 individuals

Here's what they have to say

“When we saw the possibilities of a fully digital solution, we knew that we needed to make a commitment to only install digital solutions in our properties from now. With digital, the connection time to a two-way conversation is almost instantaneous, giving significant safety and experience benefits to residents.”

Mark Short
Regional Property Manager, Spire Homes

“As an organisation we want to move away from outdated analogue systems and embrace the many benefits digital offers, and after seeing Appello’s digital solution we’ve made a commitment to only install digital care solutions in our new developments.”

Robin Macintosh
Head of Community Services – South at Guinness Care

“Over the course of our long term installation program, Appello has been able to accommodate pulling sites forward or moving sites back depending on our operational or commercial considerations at the time. This ability to be flexible has allowed us to keep on track with our program and accommodate our changing priorities”

Programme Lead
Housing and Care 21

“I will now video call each resident in the morning from the communal lounge to see if they are coming down for a cup of tea.”

Debbie Kershaw
Housing Manager

“I really feel safe knowing I can see who is at the door on screen.”

Mary Nichols
Resident

“It’s very handy to be able to connect with any flat without having to actually walk – especially at night or when not feeling well.”

Carol Terry
Resident

“I would market a property with Smart Living Solutions at a premium to analogue systems due to the significantly improved safety and aesthetics”

Managing Director
Leading retirement property agency

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