Return to on-farm assessments - a three-phased approach

Return to on-farm assessments - a three-phased approach

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Lone assessor

As Covid-19 restrictions ease, we are starting to roll out our phased approach to in-person farm assessments. This three-phase approach has been designed to help us safeguard the welfare of our members and their animals.

On 1 June, we will begin phase one of our plan to get back to physical in-person farm audits. From Monday, members in England due an assessment will be offered the opportunity to take part in a “contactless” assessments. These will only be carried out with the mutual 

agreement of both the assessor and member, and will not be mandatory. In cases where in-person assessments are not possible, we will continue with live streaming assessments.

In line with the latest government guidelines, strict social distancing measures will be observed by RSPCA Assured assessors. To further safeguard the welfare of both you and our assessors, we have also developed our own ‘contactless’ guidelines.

A three-phased return
The timings of when we move to phase two and three will be subject to the latest Government Covid-19 guidance, including that of devolved Governments, as well as other factors such as available resources.

Members will all receive advance notice when we move between phases; as far as possible, we will attempt to give advance notice of moving from one phase to the next.

Important information regarding our phased return to on-farm assessments 

  1. Decisions to move between phases will be taken only after an extensive review of all available information including current Government guidance
  2. Phase one farm visits will only be by mutual agreement between RSPCA Assured and you, the member
  3. Over the coming months, it may be necessary for us to move back and forth between phases depending on reviews
  4. Due to devolved government’s guidance in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, we may find ourselves operating in different phases

 

Phase zero: Desktop Assessments
Virtual assessments are conducted via online platforms such as Whatsapp, Google Meet and Google Hangouts. In-person physical visits to farms are conducted only when required in the event of an incident or complaint investigation, or to verify that special measures are being adhered to. For more information on virtual farm assessments.

Phase one: Contactless assessments with mutual agreement
In-person physical visits resume with our contactless protocol in place. Physical visits are not mandatory and only take place where both RSPCA Assured and the member agree it is acceptable. Our contactless assessment protocol will be communicated once a visit has been agreed by both your and your assessor. As before, incidents, complaint investigations and visits to verify that special 

measures are being adhered to will be conducted in person. 

Phase two: Contactless assessments under normal schedule
In-person physical visits using our contactless protocol will resume to farms and for all members. Any member experiencing exceptional circumstances should discuss these with their assessor during their scheduling call. These will then be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Phase three: Contactless assessments, normal schedule
This will be a return to normal in-person assessment scheduling with the continued use of our contactless protocol.

For the time being, any audits for manufacturing members will also be completed using our remote audit process.

“The welfare of the animals and producers in our scheme remains our priority. Members should be reassured that at every phase of our return to in-person assessments, we will be following the latest Government advice. If that advice means we have to go back a phase, then that’s what we will do.

All of us at RSPCA Assured are impressed at how well our members have adjusted to virtual audits during this challenging time. I hope news of our plan to return to ‘normal’ shows that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We will get through this difficult time by continuing to work together.”

  • Clive Brazier, CEO RSPCA Assured

Date: 27 May 2020