Covid-19 update for the care sector – official guidance and measures to protect vulnerable persons in social care

In the last few days further measures have been implemented by the CQC and Department of Health and Social care to protect the most vulnerable in society who are in receipt of social care.  The official guidance can be found here. It has been separated into specific areas of residential living, home care and supported living provisions.  The guidance includes points such as:

  • Encouraging care services providers to work with local authorities to share information and plan
  • Policies in place for outside visitors to minimise transmission
  • How to deal with a suspected case of Covid-19 in residents

Some residential settings have taken matters further by banning all outside visitors.  This has been a controversial decision as some commentators think it is crucial to “flatten the curve” of infection, whilst others think this would be detrimental to residents’ well being.  This is explored further in a Guardian article here.

With respect of employees in the care sector, the government has also announced that statutory sick pay is payable from the first day of sickness.  If a person is employed on a zero hours contract they can access SSP if their earnings are over £118 per week otherwise they can claim benefits such as Universal Credit.  Hopefully that will encourage employees not to try to come to work if they are showing mild symptoms of Covid-19.

Meanwhile the CQC has announced that as of 16 March 2020 it is temporarily halting routine inspections due to Covid-19.  If abuse is suspected or serious harm, the CQC will still use its statutory powers, but it is likely that a care provider would be given prior warning of a visit and unannounced visits seem unlikely.

Once the peak of Covid-19 infections has died down and life returns to normal it will be interesting to see if any claims arise from the care sector from this period of uncertainty.

(Please note this article is dated 16 March 2020 and is accurate as at this date)


Written by Jennifer Johnston at BLM

jennifer.johnston@blmlaw.com

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