Social care experts, Autumna, are calling for greater transparency in the care sector so it can better support the NHS and families, as the government confirms that more than 2,000 care homes have experienced coronavirus outbreaks.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in calls to our national care advice line during the coronavirus pandemic, and families are worried: they’re struggling to find homes for elderly relatives who have coronavirus, and they’re extremely worried about putting loved ones into homes which already have the virus. One lady said, ‘I will look after mum myself rather than risk her dying of Covid-19 in a care home’. With real concerns like this, it’s time for the sector to open up to demonstrate the vital role it plays in supporting the NHS and the country,” commented founder Debbie Harris, who has been helping families find care homes for more than ten years.
Autumna runs a free national care advice line (which it has extended to seven days a week during the crisis) supported by online expertise and a national online directory of care homes. It is offering a free listing to all care providers during the crisis to relieve pressure on the NHS by making it easier for families to find appropriate care solutions for elderly residents.
Questions being put to the Autumna care advice line by families include:
- Is there a list of care homes that have Covid-19?
- How do I find a care home that will take my mum who has Covid-19?
- Are care homes only taking people with Covid-19?
- Mum is due for discharge from hospital, will any care home take her for respite care?
- Can I take my mum out of her home if it’s got Covid-19?
“The care sector is playing a vital role in supporting the country through this crisis and in most cases is doing an incredible job in very difficult circumstances, with carers on the front line putting themselves and their families at risk, especially with a real shortage of personal protective equipment. But confusion is adding to the anxiety of families. Greater transparency will help people make the right decisions for their loved ones, which will in turn help relieve pressure on the NHS by enabling families to find appropriate care solutions quicker,” added Ms Harris.
Autumna welcomes the government announcement to test all care-home residents and carers who show symptoms of Covid-19, but urges that testing should be extended to those cared for in the community. Autumna is backing the call by Age UK, Marie Curie, Care England, Independent Age and the Alzheimer’s Society for the government to provide a care package to support social care through the pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic has created both an immediate crisis in the care sector as well as putting a ticking timebomb under it,” commented Ms Harris. “Care staff are on the front line of supporting elderly Covid-19 patients, with many dedicated carers choosing to self-isolate with the elderly residents they look after to minimise the risks to them.
“New Covid-19 emergency rules require patients to vacate a hospital bed within one hour of being medically discharged, but families are unable to visit care homes to assess whether they are the right place for mum or dad. It normally takes up to a week to arrange a care home for a hospital discharge; if elderly people get put into homes that can’t properly support their needs, it will create potentially serious problems further down the line.”