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New Guidance For Adult Social Care To Better Protect The Most Vulnerable Against COVID-19

  • Advice sets out who should visit those in care and what to do if a positive case is identified or if someone displays symptoms
  • NHS working with providers to ensure people can receive best possible care in their communities
  • NHS asked to look at measures including tele-care and digital appointments

Vulnerable adults receiving social care will be better protected by new guidance issued today to councils and care providers as the Government works to delay the spread of COVID-19.

The guidance covers a variety of scenarios relating to care homes, staff and providers who care for people in their own homes to ensure older people and those with pre-existing conditions and care needs who receive support are best protected.

Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions are much more likely to develop serious complications. Anyone who is suspected of having COVID-19, with a new continuous cough or high temperature, should not visit care homes or people receiving home care and should self-isolate at home.

People receiving care will be isolated in their rooms if they have symptoms of coronavirus.  To ensure they can continue to receive the care they require, care staff will use protective equipment to minimise the risk of transmission.

Building on existing strong local relationships, the NHS will work with care providers where necessary to make sure people have the best possible care and remain in the community.

GPs have been asked to look at the possibilities of offering digital appointments to provide advice and guidance to patients and potentially their families.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“I understand how worried people most in need of care will be about coronavirus, and how concerned families around the country will be for their loved ones. And I want everyone to know we are working around the clock to ensure we do everything possible to reduce the risk vulnerable and elderly people face.

“Public safety is my top priority and we are clear people in care should follow the same tried and tested protocols everyone else is following. These include good hand hygiene and self-isolating where necessary, allowing our fantastic care workforce to keep them well.

“We are working closely with partners from across the social care sector to ensure local authorities, care providers and our health and social workforce are prepared to take action to protect our most vulnerable.

“Local authorities will work with the NHS and care providers to bring together their pre-existing contingency preparations and make sure each decision is made with the best public health and clinical advice at its heart.”

Councils have been told to map out all care and support plans to prioritise people who are at the highest risk and contact all registered providers in their local area to facilitate plans for mutual aid.

Minister for Care, Helen Whately said:

“We recognise that we are entering an incredibly challenging time for people living and working in care and we are working closely with industry experts to do everything we can to limit the impact that COVID-19 has on the most vulnerable.

“This guidance is an important part of that work. Its aim is to help the NHS, local government and care providers to work together to take the best steps to protect those most at risk.

“The social care workforce works tremendously hard to care for people of all ages with complex health needs. I am sincerely grateful for their commitment to the people they care for, now more than ever.”

As part of the Government’s emergency legislation measures, Statutory Sick Pay will be paid from day one of sickness to support those affected by COVID-19.  Those on zero-hour contracts will also receive Statutory Sick Pay or will be able to claim Universal Credit dependent on their circumstances.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at PHE said:

“All of us have a vital role in helping protect older people and vulnerable groups who are most at risk. That’s why it’s so important that as soon as you develop a new and continuous cough or a fever you stay at home for 7 days helping to limit the spread of the infection.

“Everyone still out and about in the community should wash their hands frequently and thoroughly, for 20 seconds or more.”

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“Councils’ adult social care teams are a vital part of how, as a nation, we can best respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19. They are already doing a fantastic job in challenging circumstances.

“In such a fast-moving environment, timely guidance and advice is essential and this latest publication will help answer and clarify some of the questions councils and their provider partners have.

“The right guidance, allied to an appropriate share of the £5 billion emergency funding announced in the Budget, will go some way to helping adult social care and public health teams to continue to play their part at this important time.”

Skills for Care CEO Oonagh Smyth said;

“In these unprecedented times it is vital that social employers have all the latest information and guidance they need to protect everyone who receives care and support.

This information will mean the 1.49 million social care workers can safely carry out their tasks in our communities.”

Julie Ogley, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS)

“The ongoing coverage of the Coronavirus outbreak can be distressing, particularly for those of us who are older or disabled or provide care and support.

“However, we want to reassure anybody concerned that we are working closely with partner agencies and organisations to ensure that our members are properly prepared to deal with the outbreak.”

Skills for Care CEO Oonagh Smyth said;

“In these unprecedented times it is vital that social employers have all the latest information and guidance they need to protect everyone who receives care and support.

This information will mean the 1.49 million social care workers can safely carry out their tasks in our communities.”

The new guidance is based on the latest evidence and advice from the NHS, PHE and some of the world’s top clinicians on pandemics, to make sure every effort is being made across local authorities and health systems to protect local people in the event of an outbreak.

This guidance will be continually reviewed in line with public health guidance as the Government’s action plan develops. We are ensuring we are doing the right things at the right time to protect those most at risk and as the Chief Scientific Adviser set out on Thursday we will be issuing further guidance to help protect elderly and vulnerable groups.