Care leaders have called on the government to publish a comprehensive plan to support social care through the coronavirus crisis.
The letter to Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, is signed by Kate Lee, CEO Alzheimer’s Society, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive, Marie Curie, Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK, Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive, Care England and Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive, Independent Age.
The letter states :” We are writing together as charity and care sector leaders on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable people reliant on social care and the hundreds dying in care homes, supported by an army of incredible, often low paid and undervalued care workers who are not trained to deal with death on this scale.
We appreciate the time you and your Ministers have given us this week in seeking to determine a plan for social care during coronavirus. Like you, our priority is keeping people safe in the face of this terrible pandemic.
We are appalled by the devastation which coronavirus is causing in the care system and we have all been inundated with desperate calls from the people we support, so we are demanding a comprehensive care package to support social care through the pandemic.
As a first step we urgently need testing and protective equipment made available to care homes – as we’re seeing people in them being abandoned to the worst that coronavirus can do. Instead of being allowed hospital care, to see their loved ones and to have the reassurance that testing allows; and for the staff who care for them to have even the most basic of PPE, they are told they cannot go to hospital, routinely asked to sign Do Not Resuscitate orders, and cut off from their families when they need them most.
A lack of protective equipment means staff are putting their own lives at risk while also carrying the virus to highly vulnerable groups. Care professionals that have this equipment are using it in line with the guidelines – there’s just not enough getting through to the frontline. Care England estimates that there have been nearly a thousand deaths already, yet deaths from coronavirus in care homes are not being officially recorded or published, social care is the neglected frontline.
Older people’s lives are not worth less. Care home staff are not second class carers. The Government must step in and make it clear that no-one will be abandoned to this virus simply because of their age, condition or where they live.
A comprehensive care package must include:
- PPE equipment readily available to care homes. Without it, all residents’ lives are at risk
- Care home staff, and people being discharged from hospital into care homes, given priority testing, alongside critical NHS staff
- Support to ensure contact can be maintained between care home residents and their families
- Good palliative and end-of-life care for people dying in the care system
- A daily update on coronavirus deaths in the care system, just like deaths in the NHS, so that as a society we can understand the scale of the challenge we face.
We know how hard you and your colleagues in Government are working to protect the country from the worst effects of the pandemic. We would like to reiterate our offer to provide support to develop the strategy for social care at this time of crisis. We will continue to do all that we can to make sure families reliant on social care get the protection that they need.
The call by health care leaders comes as the crisis in care home deepens, a poll conducted today by ITV News has revealed that than 40% of carers surveyed say they are dealing with suspected cases of Covid-19 in care homes.
Providing the largest snapshot yet of the crisis in the care sector, the survey of over 2,800 carers revealed that 42% were looking after residents who had suspected Covid-19.
Furthermore, 12% said that they were aware of staff who’d also tested positive.
The responses to the poll, carried out in conjunction with carehome.co.uk, suggest that the virus may be spreading much faster in care settings than the government suggests.