The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has sent a letter to all local authorities in England asking them to identify appropriate care homes to receive elderly COVID-19 patients following discharge from hospital.
The letter, sent to Directors of Adult Services in England on 13 October 2020, sets out an overview of the requirement for designated care settings for people discharged from hospital who have a COVID-19 positive status; and
an instruction for Local Authorities to commence identifying and notifying CQC of sufficient local designated accommodation and to work with CQC to assure their compliance with the Infection Prevention Control (IPC) protocol.
The DHSC letter said it is hoped that every local authority will have access to at least one CQC designated site by the end of October.
The cost of these designated facilities is expected to be funded through the £588 million discharge funding.
Designated homes must be inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to ensure they meet the regulator’s infection control standards, and the letter says anyone discharged into a care home must have a test result which is communicated in advance to the residence.
Councils will be required to provide alternative accommodation for the resident to isolate in if a care home does not have appropriate facilities.
The requirements include:
- Anyone with a COVID-19 positive test result being discharged into or back into a registered care home setting must be discharged into appropriate designated setting (i.e., that has the policies, procedures, equipment and training in place to maintain infection control and support the care needs of residents) and cared for there for the remainder of the required isolation period.
- These designated accommodations will need to be inspected by CQC to meet the latest CQC infection prevention control standards.
- No one will be discharged into or back into a registered care home setting with a COVID-19 test result outstanding, or without having been tested within the 48 hours preceding their discharge.
- Everyone being discharged into a care home must have a reported COVID test result and this must be communicated to the care home prior to the person being discharged from hospital. The care home’s registered manager should continue to assure themselves.
Vic Rayner, executive director at the National Care Forum, said: “Key questions around who will operate these services, how they will be staffed, what choice will patients have in relation to their discharge and critically how care for the multiplicity of needs will be managed in one setting appear to be still not settled.
“Within 48 hours local authorities are being asked to identify these schemes, and then a rapid run around of designation will ensue.”
“The pressure on providers, authorities, regulators and people who are being discharged from hospital will be huge.”
Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said it is “absolutely essential that lessons are learnt from the first wave, to avoid a repeat of what happened previously”.
He continued: “Care providers remain under intense strain. For many, those experiences are now compounded by problems with the testing regime and uncertainties around funding, along with caution about taking on anything new or with greater risk.
“Councils and care providers will work closely together to identify the most appropriate care homes, with the priority being that any measures must be designed to keep everybody, including both those who work in and receive care services, safe and to avoid the spread of infection.”