The UK government has made public its roadmap to protect care homes from COVID-19 through the winter months. The new adult social care winter plan aims to curb the spread of coronavirus in care settings as the temperature drops across the country.
Measures to be put in place by the Department of Health and Social Care include free PPE and a £546 million Infection Control Fund. For their part, care providers must prevent staff from moving between homes, except when it is totally necessary.
Overseeing everything in this area will be a chief nurse for adult social care, who will be appointed shortly. Their role will be to provide essential leadership to the social care nursing workforce during what is set to be a challenging time.
Part of the plan is to introduce a dashboard to monitor infections, so a picture of the situation is more readily available at any given time. This will facilitate a faster response from local government and providers when it is most critical.
The Infection Control Fund is designed to ensure healthcare providers can pay full staff wages if individuals are forced to self-isolate. It should also make it easier for carers to limit their working life to just one home, which is essential in controlling the spread of COVID-19.
In total, more than £1.1 billion has been assigned to the care sector for infection control from the government. It is keen to demonstrate its commitment to the resources required for the elderly in care homes as the country braces for a second wave of coronavirus.
Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary, said: “We are entering a critical phase in our fight against coronavirus with winter on the horizon. Our priority over the next six months is to make sure we protect those most vulnerable receiving care and our incredibly hard-working workforce by limiting the spread of the virus and preventing a second spike.”
He added that the winter care plan will give providers certainty in areas such as PPE, as well as the extra support they need. The government will be monitoring the situation in care homes carefully and the health secretary said any required intervention will be swift.
Helen Whately, minister for care, said: “Our brilliant care workers have been tirelessly looking after our loved ones throughout this pandemic, and COVID-19 rates have come right down in social care through the summer. With cases beginning to rise now, we must take the strongest possible action to stop the virus and protect people.”
She welcomed the news that a chief nurse for social care role will be created and that the appointment will be made in October. Ms Whately described it as an important step in offering leadership to a workforce that is often unseen.
The winter plan will be accompanied by the Adult Social Care COVID-19 Support Taskforce report. It will highlight how effective the care home support package actually is and ensure involved parties are held accountable.