COVID-19; our action plan for adult social care

Posted: 16 April 2020

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that, last night, I was on BBC1’s “Look North”. I don’t think it’ll win any Oscars, but I was asked for my reaction to the government’s plan to test more extensively in the social care sector. Being TV news of course, they only used 20 seconds of what I said, but of course I’m in favour of any plan that seeks to safeguard and support people in social care. Because of the publicity surroundings deaths in care homes the thrust of the story was about one element of it, which is to introduce testing for people returning from hospital having had CV, and for care workers showing symptoms.

My point (the one they used on telly) was government has to value the work of adult social care! Care homes are a real issue because you have a high concentration of people who are vulnerable and a single exposure to the virus could have devastating effects, as we have seen in several well publicised stories. But what about our own key workers, the ones who deal with customers in their own homes (and thereby keep them out of care homes and out of harms way)? I’m delighted to say that, with commendable speed, drive-through testing centres have been established here in Lincoln (Yarborough Road and Bracebridge Heath) and any key worker showing symptoms can be tested – if they are found to be positive, their household can also be tested. Testing for service users (customers) is less clear but the threat to their safety undoubtedly comes from exposure to family and care workers. This is why the lockdown is so important…

Keeping people safe is what it’s all about. If you are family, much as it may feel painful, PLEASE DO NOT VISIT unless there is an urgent and essential need. If the only people your loved ones see is our carers (who are tested and virus free) then you’re about as safe as you can be. Also, this minimises the risk to our carers and their families – we’ll never get to a point where all risk is contained, but we can have a very good go at it.

On the back of the government’s announcement yesterday, the Care Quality Commission (our regulatory body) published its own action plan, and you can see the catchy title at the top of this blog. The Chief Exec, Kate Terroni, outlined four pillars of the plan:

  1. Reducing the spread of infection in care homes
  2. Supporting the workforce both to provide high quality care, and to cope with the practical and emotional demands of caring during the pandemic
  3. Supporting independence, end of life care and responding to individual needs
  4. Supporting the organisations that provide care.

There’s nothing there to disagree with and it’s good that (finally) these things have been enshrined as policy. We have to apply these principles throughout the social care sector and really support our carers at what is an incredibly stressful time because, as well as caring for customers, they’re also family members themselves and we should not forget the selfless contribution they make on a daily basis to keeping things running.

Talking of keeping things running, one thing we’ve been struggling with is a element of PPE -visors. As things stand we do not need them as we have no confirmed cases, but we would like some in our storecupboard… because we didn’t want to risk taking supplies that our colleagues in the NHS need, we’ve held off ordering any, but then found out that schools in the area have been producing visors on the 3D printing equipment. A couple of quick calls and we were surprised and delighted (well chuffed in fact) to be offered 30 visors courtesy of Sir Robert Pattinson Academy in Hykeham. A sincere “Thank You” to all involved in their production, and it’s those you can see some of our staff wearing in the picture above – the other one is my mug on Look North last night, not nearly as important as those visors!

Stay safe and well everyone.