The Independent Care Group (ICG) is calling on Government to support the sector, saying it should now be starting to plan social care’s recovery for once COVID-19 is clear.
Yesterday’s figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 1,660 people died from COVID-19 in care homes and care homes with nursing in the week up to 15th May. That is down from 1,666 the previous week, 2,423 the week before that and 2,800 the week before that.
For the first time, the statistics showed that deaths in care homes accounted for more than half of all deaths from COVID-19 on one single day, with 214 deaths in care homes (51% of the total) and 191 in hospitals (46%) on 9th May.
ICG chair, Mike Padgham said, 'The trend continues to be a downward one, which is encouraging. But we have to remember that each death is a tragedy – someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or friend and for that reason we cannot let up.
'We have seen evidence of people on beaches and in parks failing to observe proper social distancing and we have to keep up the pressure and not let a second spike in this virus come and take away more people.'
The ICG says providers are still facing some issues with personal protective equipment (PPE) and proper testing. They also need more financial support, as many are struggling.
Mr Padgham added, 'Much still needs to be done as PPE and testing are patchy to say the least and providers need more financial support. We have to remain vigilant to avoid a second spike in cases. If we keep up the pressure we will get through this.
'Then the real priority is to get started urgently on a complete reform of care.
'During this pandemic we have seen in the most horrific fashion, what happens when social care and NHS healthcare are not properly integrated. Chronically under-funded and under-resourced, social care was not in a position to cope with a pandemic and has been brutally exposed.'
The ICG says the £3.2bn pledged for local authorities to help them support social care is not reaching care homes or homecare providers.
It says a time-limited expert-led task force should be set up now to begin rebuilding social care so that it is never again placed in the same perilous situation it is in now.
The ICG also calls for the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to waive registration fees for the next 12 months and for social care to be zero-rated for VAT – both measures that would help struggling care providers immediately.
As part of a longer-term plan for social care’s recovery, amongst a number of things, the ICG wants to see:
- The total integration of NHS healthcare and social care.
- Social care free at the point of need, funded through taxation or National Insurance.
- Direct financial support for care providers during the current pandemic paid through CQC.
- A commissioner for older people and those with Learning Disabilities in England.
- A national career pathway and salary framework for care staff.
- Professional registration for care staff.
- A properly-costed national rate for care fees.
- Needs-based continuing healthcare (CHC) payments.
- A Covid-19 bonus for all frontline care staff.