Following the Prime Minister’s address on Sunday 10 May, detailed guidance has been published today on the Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy, which includes a fresh emphasis on the importance and needs of the social care sector.
Particular emphasis is given to the NHS and capacity and how to protect care homes. In particular, given the widely reported problems with the supply of PPE, the guidance sets out a specific strategy for PPE, including increased domestic manufacturing capability and more robust supply lines.
The Government also commits to bolstering and investing in the social care sector, recognising that an efficient social care sector will free up pressure on the NHS, as patients can be discharged from NHS care more efficiently to care and nursing homes.
The guidance recognises that the main issue for care homes with regard to Covid-19 is infection control, and sets out several steps to be taken in order to achieve this, which are:
- Testing – offering a Covid19 test to all staff and residents whether symptomatic or not
- Infection control via PPE distribution and guidance on how to prevent Covid19 outbreaks
- Workforce recruitment campaign with accelerated induction and Disclosure and Barring checks
- Enhanced clinical support from GPs and local health services
- Guidance for different care settings
- Local authorities to ensure enhanced support for minimising infection control.
It is unclear how realistically these targets can be met. For example weekend newspaper reports noted difficulties for care homes in purchasing PPE through the national delivery system (see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/09/uk-care-homes-scramble-to-buy-their-own-ppe-as-national-deliveries-fail)
In past blogs prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have noted different measures and election promises by the Government with regard to social care and it’s been unclear whether these would have any lasting effect. The tragic effect of Covid-19 on care homes has led to wider media and public recognition of the difficulties the social care sector faces. Is this the moment when social care finally becomes a long term governmental priority? That remains to be seen.
A full copy of today’s guidance can be found here.
Written by Jennifer Johnston at BLM