Care England has called upon Government to support the learning disability sector and to improve its future sustainability.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says, 'The learning disability sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in adult social care. As a result of increased demand induced by demographic factors, historic workforce issues and increased difficulties in the access to care, the pertinence of the learning disability sector is likely to grow and demand greater governmental attention and action than what has been given previously.'
Despite the increased demand, the learning disability population in receipt of adult social care has been largely overlooked over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some examples of how this is demonstrated include:
- A lack of accurate data on deaths at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Lack of testing.
- Insufficient access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff.
- A lack of governmental understanding about the delivery of specialist care and the settings in which the care is delivered.
- The blanket use of do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR).
Care England’s own analysis of how the learning disability sector has been impacted by COVID-19 indicates a slight decrease in overall occupancy rates and an increase in staffing costs driven by increased absence payments, sickness costs, shielding costs, overtime costs, agency costs and gratuity payments.
Suggesting that Government must do more to support the learning disability sector, Martin Green continues, 'Emerging systems to manage the virus have been put in place as a result of the change COVID-19 has demanded, however significant action is still required to better meet the care needs of the learning disability population. We encourage Government to consider those cost areas which can be reduced to assist adult social care providers. It is important that due attention is given to addressing business costs, providing PPE free of charge, extending the Infection Control Fund and ensuring that all commissioners, local authorities and CCGs, pass on funds given to support the COVID-19 response.'