Second wave impacting upon care
Urgent reform of the way the country cares for older and vulnerable people is vital if it is to cope with the second wave of coronavirus and an uncertain future, care providers warned today.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) called on the Government to provide urgent, emergency short-term support to care providers before the second wave impacts further upon the sector.
It is also calling for longer-term root and branch reform of the sector to tackle a staffing crisis, increasing home closures and a rising number of people going without care.
The calls come after latest figures today showed another increase in deaths from coronavirus in care and nursing homes across England and Wales.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “The figures are creeping up and we must not forget, these are people’s loved ones – a wife, a husband, a mother, a father, an aunt, an uncle, a brother or sister. We have to have better financial support to care and nursing homes now and fundamental reform of the sector for the future.”
Today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics show the number of Covid-19 deaths in care and nursing homes across England and Wales at 46 for the week ending 2nd October. That is up from 38. 31, 27, 17 and 23 for the previous weeks. It means 15,646 people died from Covid-19 in care and nursing homes from 28th December to 2nd October.
Mr Padgham added: “We are seeing evidence now of homes closing at a critical time when Covid-19 deaths in homes are rising.
“Sara Livadeas, CEO of the Freemantle Trust, is worried that the Government is just going to sit around whilst more and more care homes close. She was reacting to news of the closure of St Martin’s Care Home in Old Swan, Liverpool.”
“We have warned all along that the financial implications of coping with coronavirus would be the final straw for a sector that is already in crisis. The Government must act urgently or there will not be enough homes to cope with the second wave.
“We have to get more people into the sector to address the staffing crisis social care has, with 100,000 vacancies on any one day. The only way to do that is to pay social care staff better for the amazing job they do, not just during coronavirus but all the time.
“Before coronavirus we knew there were at least 1.5m people living in this country without the care they need. With coronavirus, heaven knows what that figure is now.
“Under-funded and neglected by government after government, coronavirus exposed a social care system that was already in crisis and plunged it into further despair.”
- The ICG is also seeking clarity over visiting.
“There is huge confusion and uncertainty over visiting,” Mr Padgham added.
“Yesterday’s announcement of new restrictions in many ways added to the confusion. We have huge disparities of infection rate between different towns and cities which are placed in the same risk category. Some local authorities are saying it is okay for homes to allow visiting whilst others are advising against. In all cases it is only guidance, which puts the final decision on registered managers. It shouldn’t be left to managers, who are already under severe pressure, to take this decision – we have to have a clear instruction from the Government, as they have with the six people limit, for example.”
The ICG wants to see:
- A root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded
- NHS care and social care to be merged and managed either locally or nationally
- Extra funding for social care, funded by taxation or National Insurance
- A guarantee that people receiving publicly-funded care can receive it in their own home or close to where they live
- A commissioner for older people and those with Learning Disabilities in England
- A properly-costed national rate for care fees linked to a national career pathway and salary framework for care staff
- Dementia treated like other high priority illnesses, like cancer and heart disease
- A fixed percentage of GDP to be spent on social care
- A cap on social care costs, including ‘hotel’ charges
- Local Enterprise Partnerships to prioritise social care
- A national scheme to ensure people save for their own care, as they do for a pension
- A new model of social care delivery based on catchment areas – like GPs
- Social care businesses to be zero-rated for VAT
- CQC to have much greater powers to oversee all commissioning practises such as per minute billing and 15-minute visits
- Less duplication of inspection between CQC and local authorities/CCGs
- Greater recognition of the role of the independent sector and utilisation of its expertise in the commissioning and delivery of social care
- Guaranteed equal partnership working through seats on Health and Well Being Boards, CCGs and NHS
- Giving providers and CQC greater flexibility in delivering services
- Providing telemedicine incentives
- Allowing nurses and social care staff from overseas to work in the U.K. including lowering the salary cap
- Training and bursaries to encourage recruitment/end the shortage of nurses
- Long term measures to integrate older and younger people in care settings and change the perception of the generations
- Investment in research and development into new models of social care delivery
- Funding to help upgrade older care homes to maintain a range of choice for the public and investment in domiciliary care
- Funding for leadership training.