Councils submitted to Government on 29 May 2020 a care capacity tracker detailing care homes’ self-identified levels of access to support, and a covering letter setting out how the council and their local health partners are supporting the sector. These slides summarise some of the key features of these submissions, alongside a short selection of examples of how this support is being provided.
The submissions demonstrate how:
- Councils continue to provide strong and effective leadership of place, working closely with their partners to proactively develop and deliver impactful, nimble solutions and services to support care home providers across a range of needs.
- There has been a colossal effort by systems to ‘right the ship’, such as quickly establishing PPE supply routes, developing local testing programmes to fill gaps in the national programme, rolling out training, opening access to health and care services, or redeploying or recruiting additional staff or volunteers.
- The need for a sustainable funding solution has never been greater – the issue providers cited as the most problematic to deliver was paying their staff full wages while they were isolating, citing cost pressures. In addition, across the country, councils report rising unfunded cost pressures, including providing for free PPE supplies among a wide range of freely available support from additional temporary staffing capacity to training or testing.
- Councils are using the additional COVID funding to support the care sector with temporary fee uplifts, upfront payments and compensation for COVID-related costs. The submissions make clear too that this funding is not sufficient to cover the rising costs and pressures facing councils and the sector.
- The second-biggest issue raised via the submissions was access to whole-home testing for all asymptomatic home residents and staff. Repeatedly, submissions describe difficulties using the national testing programme, and also of local innovative programmes to address these gaps.
- Data and intelligence from engagement with providers is being used proactively to identify risks, and how multi-agency teams are providing wraparound support to care homes, usually from shared hubs across primary, community and social care, public health and the voluntary sector.
- Systems use innovative and agile commissioning, such as the use of hotels as alternative accommodation, but also of making greater use of technology.
- The supply and sufficiency of protective personal equipment (PPE) has stabilised due to local supply chains, but with fears for the fragility of this supply. Local partners have worked flexibly and innovatively to recruit, train and support care workers at pace.