The Government has introduced a coronavirus response plan for social care, including a commitment to ‘overhaul’ the PPE delivery system, widen testing for workers and symptomatic residents and expand the workforce.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) reportedly sent a letter to the Government last weekend labelling its handling of PPE for social care workers as ‘shambolic’.
Health secretary Matt Hancock claims the new steps will help to reduce outbreaks and ‘support care staff and providers’ as they work to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The new plan establishes a dedicated supply chain for social care providers, through which providers can make orders. Care homes will be ‘supported to order PPE quickly’ through direct dispatches via Royal Mail, a new pilot website and a 24/7 hotline for homes unable to get supplies through regular channels, according to the Government.
The Government said it has delivered seven million PPE items to social care providers across England, including at least 300 face masks to every CQC registered homes.
The plans also involve a commitment to provide Covid-19 tests to care workers ‘who need’ one, all symptomatic patients and everyone going into a care home from hospital. Currently, only the first five residents with symptoms are tested to determine if there is an outbreak. The Government claimed that 4,000 social care residents have been tested to date.
Julie Ogley, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), said: ‘This is a welcome first step towards recognising, prioritising and enabling colleagues working across social care to do their critical work to keep us all safe.
‘We now have a national strategy; the challenge is now to implement it. Any strategy will ultimately be judged by actions it produces, not words it contains.’
Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), said: ‘The Government’s commitment to increase testing in care homes is an encouraging first step in ensuring care home residents suspected of contracting Covid-19 receive the most appropriate care.
‘It will also allow for care home staff to be able to take necessary measures, should a resident test positive for the virus, to reduce risk of the virus spreading. Furthermore, it will help to reduce the ambiguity around cause of death, allowing GPs to record this information accurately, and ultimately understand this virus better.
‘However, not all of our vulnerable patients live in care homes, so we also need to see more testing in the wider community to help GPs and our teams to deliver the safest possible care to all our patients during the Covid-19 pandemic.’