CARE providers say the Government has to learn some very tough lessons from the impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on the social care sector and take action to prevent similar devastation in the future.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) was commenting after news that 30 families are starting legal action over the loss of their relatives in the pandemic.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said:
“We have every sympathy for those who lost loved ones due to Covid and feel their anguish.
“The pandemic was horrific and tragic for care providers – a living nightmare. We felt every loss personally and painfully, wherever it occurred – in care and nursing homes, in supported living and amongst those being cared for at home.
“Care providers did everything – many going beyond Government guidelines and putting their own health and safety and that of their staff on the line – to keep vulnerable people as safe as they possibly could.
“Far from giving social care a ‘protective ring’ at the outset, Government advice was that care homes, for example, should continue as normal. The Government was then slow to make social care settings a priority in terms of testing for covid and the provision of PPE. It was more concerned with discharging people out of hospital quickly, including many who, it transpired, had covid, with devastating effect.
“The care sector was on its knees after many years of underfunding and was ill prepared for any sort of pandemic and certainly not something as horrific as covid.”
He said the question of legal action came down to individual cases but added: “It is vital that lessons are learned – that how we deal with pandemics where the vulnerable are being cared for has a higher priority. We were far too low on the list in 2020.
“Are we prepared for any future pandemic that might come along?”
“Above all, social care must get the funding and reform it has been crying out for now for more than 30 years. We must never again be in such a vulnerable and weak position when challenges of any kind – including a pandemic – arrive on our doorstep.”
The ICG is urging the Government to reform and strengthen social care. It wants to know how politicians plan to get care to the 1.6m people who currently can’t get it; tackle the 152,000 vacancies in the sector; properly recognise and reward the social care workforce with better pay and conditions and find the extra 445,000 care staff the sector will need to cope with rising demand, by 2035.