The data obtained by the CQC and published in the third issue of their publication titled COVID-19 Insight reports a drop in the number of notifications received from providers in respect of Deprivation of Liberty (DoLS) applications from March – May 2020 suggesting on simple reading of the data that the answer to this question is “yes”.
On Monday 13 July 2020 Scottish Government reported that no COVID-19 (C-19) deaths had been registered in Scotland on any of the five preceding days. However – on the same day – Scottish Government also reported that public health teams were investigating after seven new cases of coronavirus – picked up by routine testing – had been traced to a single care home in the greater Glasgow area. All seven people who tested positive were asymptomatic at the point of testing.
On 3 July we saw the publication of the results of the Vivaldi study – a large scale survey which looked at the prevalence of COVID-19 across 9,081 care homes in England and sought to identify key factors affecting the risk of infection among residents and staff.
Result of the survey
The survey was conducted between 26 May and 20 June, and focussed on an estimated 293,301 residents and 441,498 staff (including cleaning, catering and admin staff) in a subset of homes providing care to the elderly (65 and over) and dementia patients.
There has been no shortage of commentary on the challenges facing care homes during the pandemic, from the number of infections and fatalities to the risk of further waves and lack of testing and PPE, along with the loss of income due to lower occupancy and reduced staff levels and reputational implications. There is speculation that some 25% of care homes may go out of business.
However, whilst these matters are real threats to businesses in the care sector, there are nevertheless some things that are well worth you considering as part of your plan for sustainable growth for a viable care business. The following are just some examples.
The Department of Health issued a press release confirming that families of health and care workers on the frontline in England will benefit from a new life assurance scheme during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Details of the scheme, which were first published on 27 April, are now beginning to become clearer.
The Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) guidance in respect of RIDDOR and COVID-19 presents a significant challenge to those responsible for reporting within a care setting. Care providers are understandably concerned that notifying the HSE of a non-reportable incident could result in an unnecessary HSE investigation. Some care providers are also concerned that a notification under RIDDOR may be construed as an admission of responsibility should a criminal and/or civil action be pursued.
On 11 June 2020, the Chief Coroner published his Guidance No 38, ‘Remote Participation in Coronial Proceedings via Video and Audio Broadcast’. This guidance builds upon Guidance No 35 dealing with hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic which we have commented on in previous blogs.
Since the lockdown began most inquests have been postponed, with coroners opening inquests and holding documentary inquests where no witnesses are called to give evidence.
The current pandemic has seen the increase in use of partially remote hearings where the court is satisfied that it is just to do so.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) provided guidance on when deaths from COVID-19 or instances of COVID-19 should be reported to it. The HSE emphasised RIDDOR reports were only required in relation to employees where a death had occurred as a result of occupational exposure to COVID-19 or a person had contracted COVID-19 in the workplace. When deciding on whether a RIDDOR report is required, a “responsible person” within the organisation should make an informed decision on whether a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 is likely to have been due to exposure at work.
In the past few months, one of the dominant news stories has been that of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social care sector. This has mostly focused upon the issues surrounding elderly care.
However, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has this week published an analysis regarding deaths of persons with a learning disability and/or autism. The analysis is based upon notifications from providers registered with the CQC where the death certificate indicates the deceased had a learning disability. This shows in the period 10 April to 15 May there was a 134% increase in deaths in comparison to the same period in 2019.
Our recent blogs have consistently focused on this developing saga as COVID-19 continues and as we as a nation compare ourselves to our counterparts, we are increasingly coming up short. There is a stark message coming through that our most vulnerable have been forgotten: the elderly in care homes, the detained in mental health units and those with learning disabilities.