Coronavirus could be final straw for providers
Care and nursing homes closing in the wake of coronavirus, could spark a second crisis in the care of older and vulnerable adults, a campaigner warned today.
Speaking as the number of deaths in care and nursing homes fell again, Mike Padgham, Chair of the Independent Care Group (ICG) warned that a fresh danger of home closures was now on the horizon.
His warning came after a care home on the Yorkshire coast closed down.
Today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 369 people in England and Wales died in care and nursing homes from Covid-19 in the week up to 12th June, down from 564 the week before. Previous weeks saw 705, 1,090, 1,660, 1,666, 2,423 and 2,800 deaths respectively.
The ONS says a total of 14,404 people died in care and nursing homes from Covid-19 between 28 December last year and 12th June.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “The downward trend in care and nursing home deaths is very welcome and we are all pleased and relieved that we seem to be passing the peak.
“But we also have to be mindful that for some, this crisis will have been the final straw and may well cause the closure of some care and nursing homes, causing a fresh issue in social care.
“The Government will have to step up its support for the sector to avoid a sudden loss of provision, or we will have a second crisis on our hands through a lack of places.
“Here in Scarborough we have seen the Grosvenor Hall Care Home, which looked after 23 people, close, which is dreadful for those residents, their relatives and the home’s staff.
“We do not know the reasons, it may have been down to coronavirus it may have been down to the stresses on care homes that have existed now for some years.”
Last week the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) said increased costs due to Covid-19 had exacerbated an existing crisis in social care.
An ADASS report warns that increased spending due to coronavirus – for example, on personal protective equipment (PPE), staffing costs and sickness cover – means some private care providers may go out of business.
ADASS called for a two-year ring-fenced funding settlement for adult social care as well as reform of the sector, including better pay and conditions for care workers.
Mr Padgham added: “We have long been promised a Green Paper on social care but it has been repeatedly delayed.
“The sources of the current problems are well documented, but almost £8bn cut from social care budgets since 2010 has left a sector on its knees, and that is bound to lead to some homes closing.
“To ensure this doesn’t happen, we have to have greater financial support to the sector now, followed by root and branch reform of social care, matched by enough funding to bring it to parity with NHS healthcare, alongside which providers have been battling to defeat Covid-19.”
The ICG’s suggestions for the future include:
- A root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded
- NHS health care and social care to be merged and managed either locally or nationally
- Extra funding for social care, funded by taxation or National Insurance
- A guarantee that people receiving publicly-funded care can receive it in their own home or close to where they live
- A commissioner for older people and those with Learning Disabilities in England
- A properly-costed national rate for care fees linked to a national career pathway and salary framework for care staff
- Dementia to be treated like other high profile, high priority illnesses, like cancer and heart disease
- A fixed percentage of GDP to be spent on social care
- A cap on social care costs, including ‘hotel’ charges
- Local Enterprise Partnerships to prioritise social care
- A national scheme to ensure people save for their own care, as they do for a pension
- A new model of social care delivery based on catchment areas – like GPs
- Social care businesses to be zero-rated for VAT so that they can claim it back, as other business sectors do
- CQC to have much greater powers to oversee all commissioning practises such as per minute billing and 15-minute visits
- Less duplication of inspection between CQC and local authorities/clinical commissioning groups
- Greater recognition of the role of the independent sector and utilisation of its expertise in the commissioning and delivery of social care
- Guaranteed equal partnership working through seats on Health and Well Being Boards, CCGs and NHS
- Giving providers and CQC greater flexibility in delivering services
- Providing telemedicine incentives
- Allowing nurses and social care staff from overseas to work in the U.K. including lowering the salary cap
- More nurse training and bursaries to encourage recruitment and end the shortage of nurses
- Long term measures to integrate older and younger people in care settings and change the perception of the generations
- Investment in research and development into new models of social care delivery
- Funding to help upgrade older care homes to maintain a range of choice for the public and investment in domiciliary care
- Funding for leadership training.