Care providers are spending an average of £4,000 per care home to make adaptations that support safe visiting during the pandemic, a survey by the National Care Forum (NCF) has found.
The survey, which covered 1,240 care homes, also found that 94% of providers have been actively taking steps to enable visits using a range of initiatives.
The NCF said the extra cost of making visits possible is currently being covered by care providers because the Infection Control Fund – introduced by the Government in May – is ‘not sufficient’ to meet the demands placed on it.
This comes as the Government announced earlier this week that it could enable regular Covid-19 testing for care home visitors by Christmas, meaning visits could take place indoors ‘without a screen’.
The NCF said: ‘We welcome the secretary of state for health and social care’s commitment to facilitate family visits in the Christmas countdown. This is an ambitious goal and one that urgently needs a clear, deliverable timetable with sufficient funding to support care providers to make meaningful visits a reality.’
In the meantime, national guidance recommends that care home visits only continue during lockdown with extra measures in place, such as floor to ceiling screens or ‘visitor pods’.
The NCF survey also found that all respondents who were eligible to register on the PPE portal had done so, and have been predominantly using this method to source stock.
However, it also found that the portal has only been meeting an average of 48% of the providers’ Covid-19 PPE needs, with all (100%) stating they have had to purchase additional PPE themselves to meet demand.
The NCF said: ‘Providers are unable to stockpile to create a buffer in the case of an emergency and the zero rate VAT on PPE was removed at the end of October thereby exacerbating the financial pressures of accessing PPE to providers.’
More than nine in 10 (95%) of respondents also said they believe there will be an impact to their financial performance next year with over 80% forecasting a decline in revenue and 95% forecasting an increase in costs.
The survey, which looked at the period 1 to 31 October, was completed by care providers operating 1,240 care and support services in England, employing 35,124 staff, and supporting 28,810 residents.