I have received the following message in respect of Communal Lounges in Sheltered Accommodation. 

“Housing Services are taking steps to gradually re-open communal lounges in Retirement Life sheltered accommodation schemes, in line with Covid-secure guidelines, to give tenants the opportunity to socialise as we move into autumn.

The briefing is below:

As you will recall, we closed all communal lounges in Council owned Retirement Life schemes in March and they are currently closed until the end of August, in line with Community Centres and Day Centres across the city.

However, as the month’s progress and we move towards autumn it does feel important that we look at how we can create some opportunity for tenants to use communal lounges. We have now resumed some doorstep visits for tenants at Retirement Life schemes and so have an increased presence on schemes. Having spoken with colleagues in Communities and Environment and Adults and Health they are undertaking individual Risk Assessments at each Community Centre and Day Centre to assess if they can safely re-open, with the first due to open imminently, this will be a phased approach.

The next step for the Retirement Life service is to look at how we can make the communal lounges Covid-secure in some capacity. A site meeting took place with Facilities Management and the Retirement Life Team at two schemes on Monday 24 August to assess if the communal lounge can be made Covid-secure. These were positive meetings and at both schemes it was deemed possible to open the communal lounge although with much limited capacity. Unfortunately, it was not deemed possible to make either adjoining communal kitchen facility Covid-secure and these will remain closed.

These visits have given us a good indication of what can be achieved elsewhere in the city. The Retirement Life service has 78 lounges across the city and we are now creating a plan to visit each of these to set out the furniture in line with government guidance. Due to the number of schemes this will take us some time, and will be a phased approach starting with lounges within a complex, then moving on to the stand-alone community centres.

The capacity in each lounge will be greatly reduced (on average we expect each lounge will only be able to be used by 8 tenants at any time). For this reason, once opened, we will be restricting use to tenants and their carer’s. They will still be closed to families and members of the public. By restricting access this will give the opportunity for more tenants to be able to socialise.

We have ensured that access to fire exits, scooter rooms and laundry facilities has been maintained.

Once opened, and where possible, we will start to organise Support Officer led socially distancing well-being activities.

Whilst the government may have paused shielding, we know that many tenants remain cautious and continue to follow shielding guidance. The council and its partners is still very keen to support those who wish to continue to shield and we also reminding tenants to minimise the number of visits from family and members of the public to the scheme, wherever possible.