Care homes to get free PPE until March

A new adult social care winter plan has been revealed which aims to curb the spread of coronavirus infections in care settings throughout the winter months.

As part of this plan, people receiving adult social care and care workers will receive free PPE until March next year, with a new dashboard created to monitor care home infections and help local government and providers respond quicker.

Supported by an extra £546 million for the Infection Control Fund, the Department of Health and Social Care announced that local providers must restrict all but essential movement of staff between settings to reduce transmission, with the funding set to help care providers pay staff full wages and enable staff to work in only one care home.

This brings the total funding for infection control measures in care homes to over £1.1 billion and underlines the government’s commitment to ensure adult social care has the resources it needs to keep residents and staff safe.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also said that a Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care will be appointed to represent social care nurses and provide clinical leadership to the workforce. Recruitment will begin in October to ensure the department and sector can benefit from the professional expertise the new role will bring.

Hancock said: “We are entering a critical phase in our fight against coronavirus with winter on the horizon. Our priority over the next six months is to make sure we protect those most vulnerable receiving care and our incredibly hard-working workforce by limiting the spread of the virus and preventing a second spike.

“This winter plan gives providers the certainty they need when it comes to PPE and provides additional support to help care homes to limit the movement of staff, stop the spread of coronavirus and save lives. We will be monitoring the implementation of this carefully and will be swift in our actions to protect residents and colleagues across the country.”

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Social care has been on the frontline throughout this pandemic and we need to continue doing all we can to shield and protect older and disabled people living in care homes and those receiving care in their own homes. We are pleased the government has accepted the calls from councils and care providers for this funding to be extended, as we head into the winter period and face the possibility of a potential second wave of infections.

“This extra funding and regular testing of those who use and work in social care needs to be supported by addressing other important issues, such as ensuring everyone in the community who needs a test can receive one, together with a consistent, reliable supply of PPE for frontline staff. Taken together, this will help councils’ public health teams to reduce and prevent coronavirus outbreaks in their areas. Cross-party talks on finding a long-term, sustainable funding settlement for social care also need to start urgently.”