Agenda and minutes
Venue: Virtual meeting
Contact: James Townsend
Apologies were received from Mandip Bilkhu and Councillor Martha Vickers
The minutes of the previous meeting dated 18 January 2021 were approved as a true and correct record.
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest received.
'Time to Talk' update
Davina Nicholson, Clinical Lead at Time to Talk West Berkshire, provided an update on their experiences with tackling Covid-19:
· She noted that ‘Time to Talk’ had seen a significant impact on the mental health of children and young people due to the pandemic
· During the first lockdown referrals dropped to 13 per month
· During August- November referrals to the service were up to 41 per month
· January 2021 had seen 23 referrals
· Normal referrals per month were around 32
· She stated that the service had engaged with young people asking if Covid-19 had affected their mental health, of which 50% responded ‘yes’
· She noted that the first lockdown saw many positive comments from young people and that it gave them time to enjoy new activities
· However, since the pandemic had gone on and more lockdowns announced, the novelty had worn off and more individuals were reporting anxiety and loneliness
· Many young people had stated that they fear they are trapped with the lockdown and there is no close end in sight
What helps with these anxieties?
· Incorporating exercise
· Time with pets
· Help and engagement from schools
· Helping young people to feel a part of the ‘build back’ after the pandemic
Councillor Woollaston asked Davina if she had any tips for better engagement with younger individuals.
Davina Nicholson noted that a big element was making children and young people feel a part of an overall project and that it could be something she would ask if they would like to be involved in.
Councillor Doherty asked Davina if she had any expectations about the future demand on the service, given there seemed to be a slowdown during lockdowns and a rise in referrals after them. She also asked about the services’ capacity levels.
Davina Nicholson 30 counsellors within the service who looked after around 8-10 individuals per week. She noted that there were almost 300 young people in counselling at the moment. In regards to a surge in demand, she stated that the service was anticipating another surge after the current lockdown. Furthermore, she noted that the demand would be affected by the exam situation.
Councillor Boeck asked if the service was experiencing new issues or whether young people were experiencing old issues, amplified by the pandemic.
Davina Nicholson noted that it tended to be usual struggles such as depression, loneliness being exacerbated. However, she noted that the service may see an effect on children’s development due to what they have missed in terms of socialising in school.
Councillor Bridgman asked if the sessions that the service were doing with parents were proving to be useful.
Davina Nicholson noted that they had been very successful and that it gave another tool to help young people by giving parents more knowledge about how to approach difficult issues and manage them.
Health Visiting Service update
Ginny Garnett, Head of Community Children’s Services, Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, provided an update on the maternity health visiting service in West Berkshire throughout the pandemic:
· She noted that national guidance issued in March 2020 restricted the service to new birth contact and a 6-8 week check on new mothers
· Some staff were redeployed to other areas within the NHS
· Advice was to avoid going into people’s homes
· Many parents preferred to have online or over the phone check-ups
· Went through a process of identifying needs and RAG rated parents based on needs
· She noted that domestic abuse questions were difficult to ask online and as such, the service had been using a method of advertising help in the background of video calls
· The service had greatly increased its social media presence, such as vlogs and blogs, to try and reach more parents
· She noted that the service had introduced an initiative called ‘Welly walks’ where isolated parents could meet up for socially distanced walks
· Virtual anti-natal presentations to all mothers across West Berkshire
· She stated that it had diminished the ability for new parents to network with others using the service
· She noted that face to face visits were re-introduced in June, with staff wearing PPE
Councillor Masters asked what happened if two parents fell ill and were unable to look after a child.
Ginny Garnett noted that it would be a process of contacting social care, who would then make an arrangement, whether that be kinship care or an alternative arrangement.
Councillor Doherty noted that the new birth and six to eight week assessments were used as a way of spotting post-natal depression. She asked if it had proved to be difficult to pick up on this and whether there had been an increase or decrease in detections.
Ginny Garnett noted that her belief was that they weren’t being picked up as much online. She stated that health visiting was a relationship of trust and this was more difficult to build up online. She also noted that the absence of friends and family during this time was also playing a large part. She further noted that there was a significant decrease in cases of post-natal depression compared to previous years.
Covid-19 situational report
Matt Pearce provided an update on the Covid-19 situation in West Berkshire. He stated that all data presented was correct as of the 13 January 2021. He also noted that the slides being presented were now in line with the rest of Berkshire and would be published on the Berkshire Public Health website.
· The whole of Berkshire remained in a national lockdown
· Further information could be found via:
Situational awareness (data correct for the week 1st February 2021):
· The positivity rate was 9.6% in West Berkshire
Epidemiology of cases:
· 1/3rd of Covid cases are asymptomatic
· WBDC will soon be offering community testing twice per week to eligible workers (key workers) who are most at risk of catching and spreading Covid-19
· The first testing site would go live in Newbury next week, with further sites in the following weeks
· Testing would be via appointment and invitation only
Councillor Bridgman asked if asymptomatic cases were more prevalent in any particular age groups.
Meradin Peachey stated that the answer was largely unknown given the amount of data it involves, but more research was on-going. She also noted that around 1/3rd of cases in care homes were also asymptomatic so it wasn’t just a case of it being amongst younger age groups.
National test and trace data:
· 90% of people who test positive had been contacted
· 86% of contacts had been traced
West Berkshire test and trace:
· Averaging 10 new daily case referrals from NHS test and trace (since Jan 2021)
· 36% higher than Oct/ Nov
· 60% of referrals had successfully been contacted and given advice
Measures to prevent Covid-19
Martin Dunscombe provided an update on the work of the communications team during Covid-19. He noted that: