As well as the practicalities of providing care during the current Covid-19 crisis, care home providers will be acutely aware that they are currently subject to many demands for information, including daily reports to CQC via the Capacity Tracker. On top of that care home providers will be contacted by their local authorities for information, as set out below. Care homes should do all they can to cooperate with this, as the data gathered will allow Local Authorities to release funding from the Infection Control Fund.
In correspondence dated 14 May 2020, the Minister of State for Care, Helen Whately MP, wrote to Council Leaders. She began by thanking them for the work undertaken by local authorities (LAs), care providers and the NHS for their combined Covid-19 response, and then moved to emphasise the need for data which would allow the Government to enhance the coordinated nature of that response.
The importance of increased consistent national oversight
The letter explains how the Government will work with LAs to increase consistent national oversight to support locally-led responses. The model intends to build on the £600 million allocated to LAs through the new Infection Control Fund, supporting adult social care providers to reduce the rate of transmission in and between care homes and support wider workforce resilience.
The support package
The ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): care home support package’ (a link to which can be found on Gov.Uk) asks all LAs to review or put in place a care home support plan, drawing on local resilience and business continuity plans. The plans are to be submitted by 29 May, after which they will be made public.
LA CEOs with social care responsibilities should work with system partners to agree a return consisting of:
- a cover letter with a short overview of their current activity and forward plan; to include:
- Confirmation of daily arrangements in place to review the local data and information of the state of the market locally;
- Collective levels of confidence that actions are being implemented or that plans are in place to urgently implement them, with reference to areas of concern and needed remedy where applicable;
- A short description of the approach that commissioners (LAs and CCGs) are taking to address short-term financial pressures experienced by care providers;
- The local approach to providing alternative accommodation where required, including where an individual’s care home is unable to appropriately implement care arrangements for those who need to be isolated or shielded.
- Local co-ordination for placing returning clinical staff or volunteers into care homes, where care homes request this support.
- a template Excel document requesting details of the number of care homes in the area and corresponding requirements for additional support or key issues that need to be raised. The questions focus on 5 areas of need:
- Focus 1: Infection prevention and control
- Focus 2: Testing
- Focus 3: Personal Protective Equipment and Equipment supply
- Focus 4: Workforce support
- Focus 5: Clinical support
- Written confirmation that LAs are carrying out a daily review of the local care market (with an emphasis on care homes), and taking actions immediately where necessary to support them.
Further, additional fields are being added to the Capacity Tracker to collect information on the number of homes that have accessed support or have procedures in place; data which will be added to the return.
The planning returns will be reviewed at a regional and national level, identifying good practice and considering further steps needed to ensure every care home is receiving the right support and implementing the appropriate measures.
The Minister acknowledged that completion of the return would place extra demands on care providers. However, the message is unambiguous as to the vital need for contemporaneous data. The most significant evidence of this is the confirmation that the Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund will be conditional on provision of this regular information. It is therefore in the interests of all parties involved to engage with this new strategy and provide as much detail as is available, to allow scrutiny, coordination and access to the new fund.
For further support and advice relating to the impact of COVID-19, please view our COVID-19 Advisory Service page.