Slough’s local contact tracing service was launched on 17th September. The team are working to support the national effort, contacting Slough residents who have tested positive for Covid-19 to give them isolation and support advice. They make calls to residents between 10am and 6pm, Monday to Friday, as well as some additional hours on Saturday.
The local Slough team can access contacts details from Council Tax records and other local sources to find contact numbers for residents. This means that if the national team can’t get hold of someone because they’ve got the wrong number or they dont have one, the team can use some of their local intelligence to try and find these people and make sure that they contact them. They also have team members who speak alternative languages including Polish, Romanian, Urdu and Punjabi.
The service is tailored to support the individual’s needs. When they contact residents, the team check whether additional help is required while self-isolating and refer them through to the OneSlough Community Response team for immediate food, prescription supplies or wellbeing services, or if they are in financial need, to the benefits team and other local support and services.
The team are currently managing around 12 to 15 cases a day but are gearing up to deal with more as Covid-19 cases are increasing in Slough.
Why do we need contact tracing?
Contact tracing is important in helping to reduce community infection. There is a lot of misinformation circulating so residents need to have the right advice and know what they can and can’t do. The service is another layer to support the national effort.
Rajni Cairns, Programme Officer, Public Health Slough who is managing the local service said, “Local contact tracing also gives us some really good insights. So, for example we can identify certain high-risk postcodes and send a community team member down to give some Covid safety advice in those areas. If there are workplaces that come up regularly, environmental health officers can visit to check whether extra support and advice is needed. It’s really helping us to understand what’s happening in our local community and it’s giving that that extra level of insight.”
“However, what we’ve realised over the last few weeks is, it’s getting harder and residents are a little bit suspicious. Sometimes they don’t want to engage with the call, they don’t want to give us their contact details and they don’t want to tell us where they work. What we really want is to help people understand that we’re here to offer support, advice and reduce the community spread so it’s really important that people feel comfortable with engaging with the service.”
“We have a call back facility for residents, so they can see that it’s a Slough Borough Council phone number, and there is a message on that phone number that verifies this so people can call us back. For doorstep visits, we always have our ID badges available so that people can see that we work for the council.”