Covid-19 Information

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We are aware that these are difficult and challenging times for all of us – for our families and loved ones, for our clients and their families, and for our trainees and supervisees.

 Althought, AFT is unable to explicitly recommend platforms or practices for working remotely, it is hoped that the information on this page, may offer a selection of resources that members may find useful.

AFT are not in a position to provide specific advice with regard to face-to-face working or online working practices and we recommend that clinicians follow guidance from the sources below:-

  • The government response website
  • Your employer’s directives, which may be private, 3rd sector, or the NHS
  • Your Insurance company and/or union
  • Your Professional Registration Body E.g. HCPC, UKCP, RNC, BACP, GMC etc

New Remote Guidance Documents


Resources

AFT cannot explicitly recommend platforms or practices for working remotely. The information therefore on this page, seeks to offers some links to sources that members may find useful.

The information is divided into the follow:

1. Information from Registration and Professional organisations

2. Other professional links

3. Examples of Online Training recources

For each of the following sections, fuller details are provided by scrolling down.

4. GDPR considerations

  • ICO information
  • Online platforms

5. Online communications

  • Online Platforms pros and cons
  • Considerations when using messaging platforms
  • Working from home

6. Common questions and answers to AFT

7. Other resources



4. AFT consulted with a GDPR specialist and can offer the following:
It is worth noting the advice currently being given by the Information Commissioners Office here.
Of particular note is the following extract:
Question: “During the pandemic, we are worried that our data protection practices might not meet our usual standard or our response to information rights requests will be longer. Will the ICO take regulatory action against us?
Answer: No, we understand that resources, whether they are finances or people, might be diverted away from usual compliance or information governance work. We won’t penalise organisations that we know need to prioritise other areas or adapt their usual approach during this extraordinary period. We can’t extend statutory timescales, but we will tell people through our own communications channels that they may experience understandable delays when making information rights requests during the pandemic”.
This link to the NHS may also be useful.

Below are some general comments from our GDPR Specialist:
“This information is provided on the basis that organisations/practitioners have to make their own decisions:
Zoom
• US Based and processing comes under Privacy Shield
• Designed primarily for meetings and NOT clinical assessments
• Unlike products such as ‘Attend Anywhere’, its primary function is not to support clinical assessments, but is being seen as a “viable alternative”
• Larger organisations will need to complete a Data Protection Impact Assessment
• Larger organisations will need to consider completing Equality & Diversity assessments
• That should include transparency linked to costs of calls/assurance that no costs to service user linked to using the service


5. Online communications
It is clear from the above that the landscape is complex and members and organisations will need to account for their own decisions. It may be that evidencing an appropriate process will assist mitigation of later difficulties.
There are various providers of online communications, none of whom AFT can directly recommend and who will make their own statements regarding compliance:
• Zoom
• We.Care
• PsychCon
• WIRE Pro
• Signal

Consideration when deciding which instant messaging apps to use
• You get what you pay for – if you pay nothing, you cannot expect anything linked to commitment or a service being supported
• The Terms & Conditions have to be understood
• Is the organisation providing the devices the app works on or is it expecting staff to use their own devices?
• If the latter, that means changing staff contracts or finding a legal basis to insist it happens
• What happens if there are additional costs that staff did not expect to incur?
• Record keeping for both clinical care and corporate decision making will still have to be factored in
• The ICO has stated they will be pragmatic over the coming months, but we still have to demonstrate that whatever is shared is getting recorded in the right pace
• There will be an impact on organisation finances, capacity or service management and research activities if we do not get this right
• These are short-term decisions with a potential long term impact – changes to working practice and how these apps. are used have to monitored to ensure that they do not become embedded inappropriately

Consideration for working from home
• You can request staff to use their own mobile phones but you cannot insist on it unless it is in their contract
• You will need to either issue them with organisation owned devices or gain some form of consensus about expectations of use of personal devices
• If calls or documentation is sensitive, try and work/take the calls in a different room
• If you know the time of the postman and have a dog(s), time calls so that they do not happen when the postman is likely to be around
• If you intend to take conference calls via a laptop with a camera, remember to put some clothes on
• Some people have found out the hard way that their cameras could be remotely activated
• Keep everything electronic as far as possible and try and avoid taking sensitive patient information home
• If you have an IT Department, try and keep informed about the latest guidance they have issued”

Smart Speakers:
If you currently use video consultation software you need to ensure that any smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home/Dot in the proximity have been turned off before the consultation to ensure confidential information can be remain secure.



6. Common questions and answers

Face-to- face contact with clients
Q. What guidance is available on conducting face-to-face work during the COIVD-19 epidemic?
Response: Please refer to the government and your employer guidance as above.

Working Online 

Q. Should I undertake training to work with clients or supervise online?
Response: Please refer to your Registration Bodies guidance, CPD policy and AFT’s Remote working guidance.
The Association for counselling and Therapy online provides further information and resources.

Requirements for Registration and CPD
Q. If my attendance at 18 hours of training is light this year and/or my clinical and supervision arrangements fall short of the minimum hours due to the current epidemic, will this be taken in to consideration when called for future CPD review?

Response: Exceptional circumstances are always taken into account when a CPD review for UKCP re-accreditation is appraised. If any member has specific concerns regarding meeting the requirements, we hope that they will consult UKCP guidance and also AFT's CPD policy. If you are particularly concerned please contact AFT's Regulations Officer.

Members may also wish to explore CPD opportunities such as online training/webinars/video resources as alternatives or additions at this time.
Some examples of online CPD sources:

Find a Therapist Directories
Q. How can I change my profile page to show that I offer online counselling should a client be searching for this?

Response: If you are a fully qualified family therapist and hold professional registration, as an AFT member you can upload and amend your details in the self-populating AFT Directory page.
The Public can use the ‘keyword’ search tool to type in ‘online’ if searching for online therapy.

1. Log in to the members area
2. Click on My Profile
3. Click on the tab ‘Directory information’
4. In ‘Specialism’ – scroll down and select ‘online counselling’ in the drop down box
5. Click ‘Save’ once you have updated your settings
For UKCP’s Find a Therapist page and updating your profile preferences please see their website.

Volunteering
Q. Are there any services being set up to support the nations mental health and wellbeing that I could get involved in?

Response: These may be happening on a national and local level. AFT is unable to directly signpost to these, but will share appropriate national opportunities should any come to our attention.

NHS call for Therapists:
The NHS is looking for Qualified and Registered mental health and social work professionals for supporting front line staff.

Please visit www.nhswellbeing.com for more information and to register your willingness to volunteer.


7. Resources:
AFT is unable to endorse or advise on the below. However these are some resources that some members may find of interest.

Posted by members - Systemic Resources:

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