Independent Care Group calls on government to end years of social care neglect
The chairman of an Independent Care group in Yorkshire says the Government needs to invest in long term funding for adult social care, amid fears that the country could be heading into a second wave of coronavirus, Ruth Dacey reports.
While welcoming the Government’s announcement last week that care homes in England will receive extra funding of £546m to try to reduce transmission of coronavirus during the winter, Mike Padgham, the chairman for the Independent Care group for York and North Yorkshire, stressed more needed to be done for the long term future of adult social care.
The money allocated to care homes will help to pay workers full wages when they are self-isolating, and ensures carers only work in one care home, reducing the spread of the virus. The fund was set up in May and has been extended until March 2021.
Mr Padgham told The Yorkshire Post: "The extra funding was a good start but local authorities are still short of money - and they need extra resources - if they need to purchase more care in the community, they need more funds to do that because they are at breaking point.
"What we need to see is actually a more longer term solution with social care. And for the Government to fund local authorities adequately, so they can fund homes themselves appropriately."
In July, care homes in England were allowed to reopen again for family visits - as long as local authorities and public health teams said it was safe.
But in North Yorkshire currently all care homes and extra care and supported living schemes within the Harrogate, Scarborough and Selby districts have restricted visits, which will be reviewed again on 30 September.
While visiting arrangements for people who at the end of their lives has not changed, but providers should ensure that they do so in a Covid-secure way.
Mr Padgham, who is also the managing director of the Scarborough-based care provider St Cecilia's, which operates four care homes across North Yorkshire, where 4 residents have died due to COVID-19 and another is suspected of dying from it, said: "The issue we have in North Yorkshire at the minute - is that the authority advises no visits indoors or outdoors.
"Right now we are between a bit of a rock and a hard place - I don’t think we can go through the whole winter into the spring next year without any visits for anybody, because in some cases it would have been a year virtually."
He added: "It's not going to be easy. The majority of homes want to make it happen though.
"On the basis that nothing is risk free - we have to allow some visits as long as the authorities say it’s OK."
For the future the Independent Care Group had called on the Government to provide extra funding for local authorities and a "long term" plan for adult social care, after care homes bore the brunt of the virus during the first wave.
"The only positive to come out of this is that the Government and country recognise that social care is as important as the NHS - but what we need to do is get Boris Johnson to get a grip on this situation," Mr Padgham said.
He added: "Last year Mr Johnson said he would sort social care out by the end of the year - well here we are another year, and now it seems to have been postponed and covid can’t take the blame for everything.
"It needs sorting - it needs sorting properly and then we will be better prepared for what might be thrown at us in the future because the virus isn’t going anywhere."
A spokesman from the Department of Health and Social Care said: "We know there is a need for a long-term solution for social care and are looking at a range of proposals as part of our commitment to bringing forward a plan that puts the sector on a sustainable footing for the future.
"We provided councils with access to an additional £1.5 billion for adult and children’s social care in 2020/21 and we have made £3.7 billion available to councils in England so they can address pressures on local services caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care.
"We have also set out a new adult social care winter plan to ensure the sector has the resources it needs to keep residents and staff safe, including free PPE and an extra £546 million for the Infection Control Fund."
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