Care home bosses seek extra £500m for Christmas

The National Care Forum has said that £500 million in extra government funding is needed to make care homes safe in the run-up to Christmas.

After Health Secretary Matt Hancock pledged to make visiting possible in every care home by Christmas, the National Care Forum said homes need a doubling of the £546 million infection control fund to at least £1 billion to help prevent the need for staff to move between homes, improve visiting facilities, deliver testing for visitors and guarantee enough PPE.

A pilot for rapid-result lateral flow testing for relatives is beginning in 20 homes and is to be rolled out to around 16,000 other care facilities. However, Vic Rayner, the executive director of the NCF, said that her organisation ‘will be looking to the government to provide additional support so we can move to the position where visiting is a default’.

A survey by the NCF of 1,240 care and support services across England revealed that only a third had been allocated sufficient PPE to meet their requirements through the national PPE portal. In September the Department of Health and Social Care promised free PPE this winter.

The survey also revealed delays in getting results for staff coronavirus PCR tests, which have to be sent to laboratories. Rayner said that, at present, only 24 per cent of tests being returned in 48 hours. She also added that while the government had committed to delivering whole-home testing for 20 per cent of homes for supported living and extra care, the survey showed that only 1.3 per cent had been getting it.