Better access to testing, millions of additional PPE items, expansions to the workforce and a new brand to further recognise the sector’s contribution to society are at the heart of a new action plan to support the social care sector through the coronavirus outbreak.
In the wake of much criticism over the last 10 days, the Government has committed to ensuring that all care workers who need a test receive one, and all symptomatic residents in a care home will be tested to prevent outbreaks. It claims over 4,000 social care workers have already been referred for testing so far.
The action plans states that everyone going into a care home from hospital will be tested with immediate effect, whereas currently the first five residents with symptoms are tested to provide confirmation of whether there is an outbreak.
The way PPE is being delivered to care homes is being overhauled too, with homes supported to order PPE quickly, including through direct dispatches via Royal Mail, a 24/7 hotline and a new pilot website.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: ”We should all be proud of our incredible care sector who are fighting this battle against this virus on the frontline. Our care staff come to work day-after-day supporting our most vulnerable in these incredibly challenging times. ”
In addition, over 1.5 million frontline care workers will now be able to unite under one banner to help create an NHS-style single identity to better celebrate and recognise the care sector.
This will be based on the existing CARE badge, which was launched as a unifying symbol of pride for the social care sector by Care England and the National Care Forum.
This, the government says, will make it simpler for care-givers to access benefits such as priority shopping hours, in the same way as NHS staff and will recognise the integral role social care workers are playing in responding to this outbreak and supporting vulnerable people. The action plan also outlines plans to expand the social care workforce by tens of thousands through a new recruitment campaign that will highlight the vital role of care staff, backed by a new online learning platform to rapidly upskill new staff.
The government says social care providers across England have already received an emergency drop of 7 million PPE items, which it says means every CQC registered care provider received at least 300 face masks to meet immediate needs.
It added that in the coming weeks, a dedicated supply chain will be in place for social care, which will mean social care providers can make orders and have them dispatched directly to them – in line with the NHS and Local Resilience Forums.
Care providers unable to get PPE from their usual suppliers will be supported by a 24/7 hotline and a dedicated, in-house team at the National Supply Disruption Response (NSDR), who can rapidly pack and deliver PPE to providers.