New state indemnity scheme for designated care homes

January 19, 2021

The Government has announced a state backed scheme to indemnify care providers operating in designated settings.

Care England, the largest representative body of independent adult social care providers, has welcomed the Government’s decision to help designated care sites with their insurance.

Care England has long called for the Government to help with insurance, including a letter to the Prime Minister at the end of last year.  According to Care England, the lack of insurance has been a major stumbling block in the low take up of designated sites and so this move by the Government is very welcome. The majority of care homes are in the independent sector and, unlike their counterparts in the NHS, they do not have automatic indemnity.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is continuing to work with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), local authorities and individual care providers to provide assurance of safe and high-quality care in designated settings, which are part of a scheme to allow people with a COVID-positive test result to be discharged safely from hospitals. The Government’s aim is for each local authority to have access to at least one designated setting as soon as possible, CQC is working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure designated settings are appropriate.

Nadhim Zahawi MP, Vaccine Deployment Minister, delivered a statement to the House of Commons announcing the temporary indemnity scheme yesterday. The sector is awaiting further guidance on designated care sites and insurance in due course.

Nadhim Zahawi MP, Vaccine Deployment Minister, said, 'I would also like to update the House on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) scheme to provide a targeted and time-limited state-backed indemnity to care homes, registered or intending to register as “Designated Settings”, which are unable to obtain sufficient insurance cover. The Government is committed to ensuring the best care possible for people with COVID-19. For people admitted to hospital who need social care support, we have worked closely with Local Authorities and the Care Quality Commission to register certain adult social care homes as Designated Settings. I welcome the response of the care sector to the demand for such care. It is our priority to ensure that people are discharged safely from hospital to the most appropriate setting, and that they receive the care and support they need.

'I acknowledge the role of the insurance industry in continuing to provide cover, where possible, for this activity. However, we know that obtaining sufficient insurance to accept COVID positive patients and sign up to become a designated setting has been a barrier for some care home providers wishing to join the scheme. The designated setting scheme is for people who are medically fit for discharge from hospital (i.e., they do not require to be in an acute NHS bed) but whose ongoing care and support needs are such that they require full-time residential or nursing care. A large proportion of these people will already have been living in a care home.

'Given the severity and immediacy of the pressures facing the NHS, we want to take all possible steps to remove obstacles to sufficient local Designated Settings provision. This includes ensuring that where the creation of designated settings has created barriers to insurance, the Government will introduce a targeted and time-limited indemnity offer to fill gaps in commercial cover.'

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England said, 'We are delighted that the Government has listened to Care England about the critical issue of insurance.  We look forward to working with the Government to make the best of this important decision and will continue to campaign to have the difficulties associated with securing insurance cover extended to the rest of the care home sector who are crippled by sky high premiums and lack of COVID cover.

'Adult social care and the NHS are two sides of the same coin and we welcome any move that puts us on the same footing thus making partnership much easier.  We look forward to continuing to work with the Government on those broader issues relating to insurance in the adult social care sector. Including, the development of a policy which addresses them.'

Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum said, 'It’s welcome news that the government has announced the state backed scheme to indemnify care providers operating designated settings. Providing full indemnity is absolutely the right thing to do. The issue of access to appropriate insurance has dogged much of social care since the outset of the pandemic, and this important step forward in announcing a state backed scheme for designated settings will enable providers operating these schemes to play their part in supporting the NHS and the wider community with assurance.

'This announcement though a positive step, does not go far enough. It is a temporary solution only committed to until the end of March, with a review due in mid-February. We continue our call on the government to address the wider insurance issues for the sector and to extend the indemnity arrangements to the entire social care sector on parity with our colleagues in the NHS. Aside from those care homes operating designated settings who have now received indemnity, care providers continue to struggle to negotiate affordable insurance cover - with many seeing substantial increases to insurance premiums, restrictions and exclusions that prevent adequate cover for COVID-19 related claims. We have raised this consistently and it is hugely frustrating that it has taken until now for the government to act.'

To read the written statement on designated settings, in full, visit the UK Parliament website.

With news that insurers are amending policies, claims could be made difficult for care providers. What is changing and what can you do to protect your business? Simon Bentley, Director at Phoenix Specialist Risk Solutions, shares the details.


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