A £600m Infection Control Fund has been introduced to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in care homes in addition to £3.2bn of financial support made available to local authorities to support key public services since the start of the crisis.
The fund, which is ring-fenced for social care, will be given to local authorities to ensure that care homes can continue to take the necessary measures to prevent and stop the spread of coronavirus in their services.
Care providers with multiple sites are being asked to restrict staff to working in only one care home wherever possible. The funding could be used to meet the additional costs of restricting staff to working in one care home and pay the wages of those self-isolating.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said, 'This £600m Infection Control Fund will help as we continue to reduce infections in care homes and save lives.
'...Our package sets out clearly the extra steps local councils and care homes should be taking as we stamp out the spread of this virus.'
In further measures announced last week:
All local authorities must conduct a daily review of care homes in their area to ensure care homes have the support they need with staffing, help with accessing PPE and other areas of operation.
The NHS will ensure that each care home has a named clinical contact to provide better access to clinical advice through weekly check-ins to review their patients, and offer direct support for staff with use of equipment and medication.
A wellbeing package for social care staff is also being rolled out on the new CARE app including two new helplines, led by the Samaritans and Hospice UK. This will help support care staff with their mental health and wellbeing and support those who have experienced a traumatic death as part of their work or help with anxiety and stress.
Minister for Care, Helen Whately said, 'Those working tirelessly to look after our loved ones are at the heart of our fight against this invisible enemy, which is why we’re doing everything we can to make sure the sector has all the support it needs to stop the spread and save lives.
'Our support package introduces stronger measures on infection control and steps up clinical support to make sure there is a clinical lead assigned to every care home right across the country to offer advice and quicker support. This is an important set of measures to support care homes and their staff – to continue to do wonderful work caring for people, even at this most difficult of times.'
Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said, 'This new funding will be distributed to councils based on the number of care home beds in their area and will be passed on quickly to care providers. It will fund new measures to reduce the transmission of coronavirus in care homes, minimise infection, keep staff and residents safe and, ultimately, save lives.'
Ruth Sutherland, Samaritans Chief Executive, says, 'We are so pleased that we can offer support to even more key workers who are doing such critical work on the frontline. Our volunteers are ready and waiting to provide a non-judgemental listening ear and a safe space to offload, at a time when we know so many are under huge emotional strain. All calls are completely confidential and answered by trained volunteers who will talk for as long as people want to, whilst also offering information about other sources of support that could be helpful.'