By Helen Whately MP | May 22, 2020
The Government recently announced a new support package for care homes.
Here, Minister for Care, Helen Whately gives details of the package and how it is expected to help.
Bravery, compassion, dedication – in recent weeks we’ve seen many thousands of health and care professionals demonstrate these defining human qualities in every part of our country. From our doorsteps, windows and rooftops we have applauded them all.
That’s not enough of course – care, like the coronavirus, is not limited to hospitals, clinics and GP practices. It’s given in care homes, people’s own homes, sheltered housing and community centres too. Which is why these incredible individuals, striving to keep us safe and well during this pandemic, need just as much support and protection as their NHS colleagues.
Which is why we’re doing everything we can to make sure they have all the support they need, with a new support package for care homes to bring in stronger measures on infection control and provide even greater clinical support backed by an additional £600m of funding. It is our goal to make sure every single care home across the country has the resources and medical expertise it needs to keep our loved ones safe and healthy.
Care home staff, working tirelessly to look after our loved ones, have an especially tough challenge keeping themselves and those they care for protected. In necessarily enclosed spaces, they really are at the heart of our fight against this invisible enemy. For the past two months, most have already been minimising staff movements to reduce risk of transmission between colleagues and residents – including home working for clerical and other non-contact colleagues.
Our new package builds on these fantastic efforts.
Care homes will now be asked to restrict permanent and agency employees to working in only one care home, where possible, to reduce the spread of the disease. Our £600m Infection Control Fund will support them to do that, which can be used to pay for additional staff, or maintain the normal wages of staff who, in order to reduce the spread of infection, need to reduce the number of establishments in which they work, reduce the number of hours they work, or self-isolate.
Each care home in England will be given a named clinical lead to fast-track the care of residents and staff. NHS support will see nurse returners being deployed to care homes through the Bringing Back Staff programme, as well providing infection control nurses to lead a ‘train the trainers’ approach for care homes, available to every area in England.
All these measures are supported by a comprehensive care home testing system, with a new digital portal to help providers order tests as needed.
The virus isn’t discriminating where and when it infects people. Likewise, we will not discriminate in our support for care and clinical colleagues, who are risking their own health and wellbeing to protect ours. They care and support without favour and that’s the least we can do for them.