The Department of Health and Social Care contacted English care home providers via a letter last Friday to warn of the rise of COVID-19 cases in care homes. This message was as a result of new data based upon regular testing of staff and residents now undertaken in the majority of care homes in England. Testing data shows new infections have quadrupled in recent weeks, in particular amongst staff. The concern is that the infections will spread to vulnerable residents.
The letter, from Stuart Miller, the Director of Adult Social Care Delivery, also says that the government will shortly publish an Adult Social Care Winter Plan to try and deal with the onset of the winter flu season whilst the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing. Emphasis is also put on the importance of regular testing and PPE. Testing on staff should be undertaken on a weekly basis and there is in place a supply line in order to provide regular testing kits to homes. PPE should be worn properly also to reduce the spread of the virus.
There has of course been a reported rise in COVID-19 cases across the population generally in the UK, coupled with problems for the general public in accessing testing. It seems inevitable that with the easing of lockdown infections would increase in care home staff. These staff may not be affected particularly badly by COVID-19, but the risk is of course that the vulnerable residents they care for will be more acutely affected. Care home providers should be mindful in the current circumstances to ensure that they are following governmental guidance regarding PPE and regular testing of staff and residents to avoid any future statutory investigations or civil claims.
A copy of the letter sent to care home providers can be found here.
Written by Jennifer Johnston at BLM