An Adult Social Care Winter Plan to support care homes through the winter has been announced by the government.
As part of the plan, which includes free PPE and a £546m Infection Control Fund, care providers have been instructed to end all non-essential movement of staff between care homes to prevent the spread of infection. A new Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care has also been appointed to lead the social care nursing workforce.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said: “We are entering a critical phase in our fight against coronavirus with winter on the horizon. Our priority over the next 6 months is to make sure we protect those most vulnerable receiving care and our incredibly hard-working workforce by limiting the spread of the virus and preventing a second spike.
“This Winter Plan gives providers the certainty they need when it comes to PPE and provides additional support to help care homes to limit the movement of staff, stop the spread of coronavirus and save lives. We will be monitoring the implementation of this carefully and will be swift in our actions to protect residents and colleagues across the country.”
As part of the plans a dashboard will be introduced as a single point of information for local, regional and national government to monitor outbreaks and measures being implemented to reduce it.
Further details are expected to be announced shortly on the granting of extra powers to local authorities and the CQC to take action where service improvement is required or staff movement is not being restricted. This could include restricting a service’s operation, issuing warning notices or placing conditions on a provider’s registration.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive, Care England said: “We welcome the Government’s focus on care homes and will work with them to implement the Winter Plan to ensure the best outcome for residents of care homes and their families.”
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the NCF, gave a cautious welcome to the plans, saying it appeared that the government had listened to the needs of the care sector.
The NCF leader expressed concern over the potential of further punitive action against care providers, however, noted there was no recognition of the sector’s 1.5m workforce.
While also welcoming the plans, Kathryn Smith, Chief Executive of the SCIE, also called on the government to push forward with plans for long-term reform of the sector as set out in its new report.
The report calls for a fair and long-term funding settlement for social care; a shift in investment and focus away from remedial and acute services towards prevention; and workforce recognition through higher pay, better conditions, progression and development.
“Social care needs a winter plan; but it also needs a long-term plan so that people can live the lives they want to,” Kathryn said.