Care homes – plans to help them cope this winter

The Government through its press releases has been lauded its successes in social care settings, but so far the shortage of PPE in many care homes, and the high numbers of Covid-related deaths tell a different story.

On the upside, they seem to be prepared to try harder this winter … with free PPE for care workers and more monitoring.

A new adult social care winter plan will aim to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections in care settings throughout the winter months.

Carer with elderly person in care home

Photo pre-Covid

As part of the plan:

  • people receiving adult social care and care workers will receive free PPE
  • a new dashboard will monitor care home infections and help local government and providers respond quicker
  • a Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care will be appointed to represent social care nurses and provide clinical leadership to the workforce

Local providers must restrict all but essential movement of staff between settings to reduce transmission, supported by an extra £546 million for the Infection Control Fund. This will help care providers pay staff full wages and enable staff to work in only one care home.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said:

We are entering a critical phase in our fight against coronavirus with winter on the horizon. Our priority over the next 6 months is to make sure we protect those most vulnerable receiving care and our incredibly hard-working workforce by limiting the spread of the virus and preventing a second spike.

This winter plan gives providers the certainty they need when it comes to PPE and provides additional support to help care homes to limit the movement of staff, stop the spread of coronavirus and save lives. We will be monitoring the implementation of this carefully and will be swift in our actions to protect residents and colleagues across the country.

The new Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care role will provide clinical and professional leadership, while upholding and raising standards among the care workforce. Recruitment will begin in October to ensure the department and sector can benefit from the professional expertise the new role will bring.

To improve understanding of where infections are taking place in care homes, a dashboard will be introduced as a single point of information for local, regional and national government to monitor outbreaks and measures being implemented to reduce it.

Minister for Care, Helen Whately, said:

Our brilliant care workers have been tirelessly looking after our loved ones throughout this pandemic, and COVID-19 rates have come right down in social care through the summer. With cases beginning to rise now, we must take the strongest possible action to stop the virus and protect people.

The creation of the Chief Nurse for Social Care is also an important step and will provide leadership to social care nurses and the wider care workforce who often work unseen. The skills and compassion of our care workers must be fully recognised and supported.

Chair of the Adult Social Care COVID-19 Support Taskforce, David Pearson, said:

A test of any country is the degree to which it supports and enables those who need care and support to stay safe and to lead the best lives they can. This report draws from expertise from across the social care sector and sets out the actions that should be taken to help keep people safe while maintaining their independence.

The report will also look at how we can learn from the first phase of the virus and sets out a number of recommendations to the government to prepare the sector and the workforce for winter.

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