Government COVID19 recovery strategy
The Government has released a comprehensive COVID19 recovery strategy document focussed on the rebuilding of our economy and society in the wake of Covid-19. One of the biggest and most recent focusses is on care homes and adult social care – parts of society which are currently being hit extremely hard by Covid-19.
In the Government’s most recent guidance they have stated the following;
The Government’s number one priority for adult social care is infection control during the COVID-19 pandemic. Care homes for the elderly are particularly vulnerable because their residents are typically at greatest risk due to age and comorbidities and because the nature of care homes means they are often closed spaces where the virus can spread quickly. In April, the Government published a comprehensive action plan to support the 25,000 providers of adult social care in England throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, including ramping up testing, overhauling the way PPE is being delivered to care homes and helping to minimise the spread of the virus to keep people safe. This has been supported by £3.2bn of additional funding for local authorities, which can be used to meet some of the rising costs providers are facing and additional pressures on social care; as well as a further £1.3bn for the NHS and local authorities to work together to fund the additional needs of people leaving hospital during the pandemic.
While still too high, the daily number of deaths of people in care homes in England has been falling for the past fortnight. The majority of care homes still have been protected from having any cases and the Government will continue to strengthen the protections against infection of care home residents. Acting on the most recent scientific advice, the Government is taking further steps to support and work with the care home sector, building on work so far. This includes:
- Testing: the Government is providing widespread, swift testing of all symptomatic care home residents, and all patients discharged from hospital before going into care homes. It is offering a COVID-19 test to every staff member and resident in every care home in England, whether symptomatic or not; by 6 June, every care home for the over 65s will have been offered testing for residents and staff.
- Infection prevention and control: the Government is stepping in to support supply and distribution of PPE to the care sector, delivering essential supplies to care homes, hospices, residential rehabs and community care organisations. It is supporting care homes with extensive guidance, both online and by phone, on how to prevent and control COVID-19 outbreaks. This includes detailed instructions on how to deep clean effectively after outbreaks and how to enhance regular cleaning practices. The NHS has committed to providing a named contact to help ‘train the trainers’ for every care home that wants it by 15 May. The Government expects all care homes to restrict all routine and non-essential healthcare visits and reduce staff movement between homes, in order to limit the risk of further infection.
- Workforce: the Government is expanding the social care workforce, through a recruitment campaign, centrally paying for rapid induction training, making Disclosure and Barring Services checks free for those working in social care and developing an online training and job matching platform.
- Clinical support: the Government is accelerating the introduction of a new service of enhanced health support in care homes from GPs and community health services, including making sure every care home has a named clinician to support the clinical needs of their residents by 15 May. The NHS is supporting care homes to take up recovery strategy video consultation approaches, including options for a virtual ward.
- Guidance: the Government is providing a variety of guidance, including on GOV.UK and is signposting, through the Social Care Institute for Excellence, resources for care homes, including tailored advice for managing the COVID-19 pandemic in different social care settings and with groups with specific needs, for example adults with learning disabilities and autism.
- Local Authority role: every local authority will ensure that each care home in their area has access to the extra support on offer that they need to minimise the risk of infection and spread of infection within their care home, for example that care homes can access the face to face training on infection control offered by the NHS, that they have a named clinical lead, know how to access testing for their staff and residents and are aware of best practice guidance for caring for their residents during the pandemic. Any issues in accessing this support will be escalated to regional and national levels for resolution as necessary.
For more information or to read the full COVID19 recovery strategy please click here.
Ann-Marie Matthews is a solicitor in the private client team at Barker Gotelee, Ipswich Solicitors.