The Department of Health and Social Care has published a plan to support the social care sector’s response to COVID-19. Click here to view. The measures were outlined in yesterday’s press conference and include plans to protect residents and support 1.5m colleagues working in social care:
- Rules have been strengthened, so that all patients discharged from hospitals will be tested before entering a care home setting.
- All symptomatic residents will be tested. Tests will be available for all care home staff, and their families, who need to be tested. Increasing PPE supplies to social care. Over the next three weeks, priority drops to local resilience forums who distribute to social care setting.
- Enhancing support for social care workforce. Introducing a single brand for social care workers. A badge of honor to display their work, similar to the NHS blue badge identifiable with NHS staff. Social care staff will get the same priority access to supermarkets as NHS staff.
- Strengthening the national recruitment campaign to attract people to social care. The Government will pay for initial induction training.
- Giving people the right to say goodbye. Care homes support individuals towards the end of their lives. Coronavirus has made this difficult due to social distancing measures. Hancock announced that the Government are introducing new procedures so that where possible, closest loved ones will be given a chance to say goodbye.
- Advanced care plans will not be applied in a blanket fashion for any group, including DNRs.
- Addressing Carers directly, Hancock thanked their vitally necessary work and their kindness.
Dedicated testing has already begun for frontline staff, including social care workers and in addition to over 20,000 tests for NHS workers and their families. As capacity grows further it will prioritise the testing of symptomatic social care workers and anyone in their household who have COVID-19 symptoms. CQC are leading co-ordination of testing for the care sector, and have already offered 6,000 care facilities the opportunity to test their staff. By the end of the week they will have contacted all 30,000 care providers.
Care providers will identify workers eligible for testing and refer them to their local testing centre. Tests for social care staff and residents will support the government to achieve its ambition of 100,000 COVID-19 tests a day by end of April.
The External Affairs team have submitted evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s inquiry on the Impact of Covid-19 on Charities, detailing Age UK’s situation nationally and locally, and why the sector needs a long-term package of financial support from the Government. This has included case studies from Age UK Isle of Wight, Age UK East Sussex and Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington. We continue to discuss funding and furlough difficulties with Government departments including Defra, DCMS and the Department for Health and Social Care.
Age UK continues to highlight the crisis of Covid-19 in care homes, including Caroline Abrahams comment in the Daily Mail on only some 500 social care workers, out of a workforce of 1.5m, in England having been tested for coronavirus so far and on social care staff having the right PPE in the I paper.
Age UK has put in bids to the Departments’ of Health and Social Care and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for possible funding during the pandemic, and are also in ongoing discussions with the Big Lottery.
The External Affairs team has been working with Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington to write to their MP Rishi Sunak to put pressure on the Government to consider more long-term support for the sector during the pandemic.