Care providers fear for their own organisations’ future survival as they fight to help older and vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic, a survey has found.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) asked its members a series of questions on how they felt during Covid-19.
Just over 45% of those who responded said they envisaged their business being at financial risk because of the fight against coronavirus.
Some 66% said they had had challenges over personal protective equipment (PPE) and almost 53% had had challenges with testing.
ICG chair, Mike Padgham said: “This survey reveals social care providers struggling on the front line against Covid-19.
“They are struggling to get adequate PPE, struggling to get the right testing and not getting the right financial support to help them get through this critical period of the pandemic.”
Almost 70% of those who responded said they felt the financial support that commissioners have offered had not been satisfactory and the ICG says more needs to be done by the Government to support them too.
“The bulk of social care commissioning is done by local authorities who are struggling too. The Government has provided extra support to local authorities but that has to help them to cope with all aspects of coronavirus, not just social care. The Government has to ensure that they are better funded so that they can, in turn, support care providers better.
“The survey also strengthens calls on the Government to ensure that PPE is more widely available, that testing gets carried out and that financial support for the sector gets to the front line.”
The ICG has previously warned that care providers are being hampered in their fight against Covid-19 through a lack of PPE and insufficient testing. It has also called on the Government to provide better financial support for care providers amidst concerns that the £3.2bn so far pledged for local authorities to help them support social care is not getting to the front line.
Mr Padgham added: “Care providers have been suffering financial hardship for many years due to chronic under-funding. Now they are facing huge increases in costs, for instance the costs of bringing in agency staff to cover for staff who are unwell, sick pay costs and the increasing cost of protective equipment. Due to stopping admissions, some care homes are also seeing a dramatic reduction in income and homecare providers are suffering a reduction in contracts.
“The Government has repeatedly promised to do whatever was needed to get the country through the pandemic. Social care now needs that action, otherwise providers will not be able to play their part in beating Covid-19 and many could cease to operate at all.”
Social care currently looks after 400,000 people in care and nursing homes – that is three times the number in NHS hospital beds. Social care looks after a further 640,000 people in their own homes.