Residents’ advice: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Updated 08 April 2020
The health and safety of our residents, employees and partners remains our priority. Please be assured that we are continuing to monitor the latest Government advice on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and are adapting our management planning accordingly.
How is FirstPort responding to this situation?
As you will be aware, the Government has now issued a nationwide instruction that people must stay at home. We have continuity plans in place and are working with our suppliers to try and minimise any potential impact to the services we offer.
However, in line with the residential property management sector, this latest instruction means that we are having to make some temporary alterations to the way we manage many of the developments in our care. In addition to the customer updates we have sent out, we have also summarised the main points for the different kinds of homes we manage in Scotland on this page.
We apologise for the disruption and any inconvenience this may cause, and we thank your for your understanding during what is an unprecedented, and rapidly developing, situation. As soon as we can revert to normal, in line with Government guidance, we will of course do so.
We have made sure that our customer support teams are able to work remotely and are available to respond to your needs. However, due to the ever-changing situation around Coronavirus, please be aware that at certain times during the day you may have to wait longer than usual to speak to our team.
For non-urgent customer service matters, we would encourage you to email us please at email@example.com, where we will respond to you as quickly as possible.
Visitors and communal activities at your development:
In line with the Government’s advice, everyone must stay at home and must follow social distancing guidelines. This means that you should not be having visitors to the development at the present time, and all communal activities should not take place while this Government guidance is in place.
According to the National Fire Chiefs Council, firefighters are called to a greater number of domestic fires at times when more people are at home – such as evening, weekends and bank holidays. So while we’re all at home much more than usual at the moment, we wanted to share some helpful tips to help you minimise the risk of fire: click here to read more on the FirstPort group website.
For Retirement developments:
We are making some changes in order to support the Government’s latest advice for the over 70s, and would urge all residents to stay safe and not take unnecessary risks.
- Development managers: Our view is that it is absolutely necessary for our Development Managers in retirement living developments to continue to be present on-site because they are essential to the operation of your development. We therefore expect this role to continue, with social distancing guidance being strictly followed.
- Residents’ visitors: In line with the Government’s advice, everyone should stay at home so we do not expect any visitors to developments at the present time.
- Non-essential maintenance work: We have cancelled all non-essential maintenance work that involves a contractor entering the building.
- In-apartment services: All in-apartment services will be cancelled (e.g. pull cord testing) until the Government advises we can reduce isolation or social distancing. The Development Manager’s daily checks on residents will continue – this can be done without physical contact, and with social distancing observed.
- Communal lounges and guest suites: We’re asking residents to stay away from their development’s communal lounge. There should be absolutely no social gatherings at this time. All FirstPort-organised resident get-togethers, including coffee mornings and residents’ meetings have been suspended, and we are not taking any new bookings for guest suites.
- Assessing residents’ needs: We have put together a short questionnaire to assess residents’ individual needs. These are available from your Development Manager.
- Laundry room: We will be putting in place laundry rooms slots that can be booked in by residents in order to limit contact.
- Lifts: Please use the lift alone, or only with other members of your household, in order to adhere with the required social distancing guidance.
For Property Services developments:
- Bins/Refuse collections: We expect your local authority to maintain refuse collections during this time, although we are already aware of a reduction of services throughout various regions. We do need your help to keep rubbish in tied bags and evenly distributed between your development bins please. This is important to make sure that bin collections can take place, and that overflowing waste or dumped bulky items are not left blocking access, and to reduce the likelihood of attracting pests or rodents. If you notice any refuse issues, please notify your property manager via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will liaise with the local authority and/or key contractors, as required.
- Communal area cleaning & garden maintenance: Unfortunately, there may be some short-term disruption or changes to your normal communal area cleaning and garden maintenance schedules. A recent update from the Scottish Government states that ground maintenance contractors and window cleaners can continue to work provided they operate their business in line with safe social distancing practice. This is good for the community and they are encouraged to do so. However, it is the decision of the individual contractors we work with as to whether they will continue to operate at this time. This means you may experience some temporary disruption to these services over the coming weeks. Similarly, wherever possible we are trying to make sure communal area cleaning continues at your development but there may be a potentially reduced frequency due to staff and/or contractor availability. We are reinforcing to all operatives that they must be strictly following social distancing instructions and must not attend site if they or any of their household have symptoms or have been unwell, in accordance with the latest public health guidance. We are working closely with our contractors and are planning ahead to make sure that we are ready once these restrictions are relaxed we can reinstate any disrupted services as quickly as possible, and that any remedial works to restore your usual site standards are undertaken as soon as we are able to do so.
- Lifts: Our main lift contractors have confirmed that they will only be carrying out site visits for entrapments and emergency call outs. We would therefore still encourage you to use the stairs rather than the lift if this is possible or you are able to do so. If you do need to use the lift, please make sure you do not share it with anyone outside of your household in order to adhere with social distancing requirements. In the event of a lift failure please use the emergency call point in the lift and call emergency services on 999 if there are no FirstPort staff on site.
- Communal Heating Systems (where present): If there is a communal heating system at your development and this were to breakdown, please be aware that response times to repair this are likely to be delayed but will be attended to as soon as possible.
- Please be vigilant: Whilst we are all adjusting to these new circumstances, please help us and yourselves to reduce any opportunistic crimes. Please make sure your possessions are locked away, doors are kept closed, and report any acts of vandalism or suspicious behaviour by strangers to the police.
- Fire Safety: The communal fire systems, where applicable, have been tested and are fully operational. However, should you notice a fault on a fire panel please contact email@example.com or call 0333 321 4077. During this time emergency services are likely to be stretched, so please do take extra care to reduce the risk of fires by making sure that:
- No items are left in stairwells or corridors
- All rubbish is placed in bins – please do not leave refuse in communal areas
- All fire exits are kept clear
- You and all persons in your household know the evacuation procedure in the event of a fire in your property
- Please check that the smoke detectors within your property are operating correctly
- Property manager: Your property manager will be working at home during this period but they are still available to assist with any questions you may have during working hours. They are planning ahead with operational colleagues to make sure that we are ready once these restrictions are relaxed to reinstate any reduced services as quickly as possible. We are also working to make sure that essential services, for instance reactive maintenance to breakdowns, leaks or electrical faults, or pest control can still be undertaken wherever possible by our contractors.
- Services still continuing: Our head office support teams are still working hard to support all of our customers. The business is monitoring the government advice closely to make sure that we are able to support you as best we can during these unprecedented circumstances. We are regularly updating our website with residents’ guidance, as well as issuing communications to customers via Your Property Online. We will continue to:
- Work closely with our main framework contractors to ensure our supply chain can still support our developments for any reactive and high priority call outs during this time.
- Manage the buildings, terrorism and any other relevant insurances for our development.
- Manage your development bank account, held in trust for you and your neighbours.
- Manage your annual accounts and budgets.
- Support your contractors so that they are able to come back to work for you after these restrictions are lifted.
With more people staying at home, drainage systems can come under strain and be more prone to blockages. Please can we ask that non-biodegradable items, such as baby wipes, sanitary towels, nappies and cotton buds, are not flushed down toilets or disposed of in sinks to avoid blockages and any significant costs that can occur when issues arise. Please can these items be thrown away or recycled instead.
As you know, this is a developing situation and we would urge you to refer to the Government advice to stay up to date with the latest information and guidance.
Government advice on Coronavirus
Government information and advice on the Coronavirus situation in Scotland is available at:
Government advice on foreign travel
If you think you have Coronavirus symptoms
- Please follow the NHS and Government guidance about how to self-isolate
- You do not need to call NHS 24 (111) to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after seven days, contact NHS 24 (111) at www.nhs24.scot. If you have no internet access, call NHS 24 (111). For a medical emergency dial 999.
If you are diagnosed with Coronavirus and/or are self-isolating
- Please follow the NHS and Government guidance about how to self-isolate
- Please notify our customer service team on 0333 321 4077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
NHS guidance on preventing the spread of germs:
We encourage all residents to be mindful of the NHS advice on how best to prevent the spread of germs as they can live on some surfaces for hours. To protect yourself and others:
- Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze.
- Bin the tissue and, to kill the germs, wash your hands with soap and water, or use a sanitiser gel.