New plan to help protect care homes from coronavirus over winter

Free PPE, a £546m infection prevention moneypot, and new nursing lead to ensure care homes are protected from second wave of COVID-19

The Government has stepped up its support for social care settings

  • New Adult Social Care Winter Plan will curb spread of coronavirus infections in care settings throughout the winter months
  • Plan includes free PPE and launch of £546m Infection Control Fund
  • Care providers must stop all but essential movement of staff between homes to prevent the spread of infection
  • New Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care will be appointed to provide leadership to the social care nursing workforce

A new Adult Social Care Winter Plan has been unveiled which aims curb the spread of COVID-19 infections in care settings throughout the winter months.

Announced by the Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, as part of the plan people receiving adult social care, and care workers, will receive free PPE; and a new dashboard will monitor care home infections and help local government and providers to respond more quickly.

In addition, a Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care will be appointed to represent social care nurses and provide clinical leadership to the workforce, and all but essential movement of staff between settings will be halted in order to reduce transmission, supported by an extra £546m for infection control measures.

This will help care providers pay staff full wages and enable staff to work in only one care home.

The extra investment brings the total funding for infection control measures in care homes to over £1.1billion and underlines the Government’s pledge to ensure adult social care has the resources it needs to keep residents and staff safe.

And the government is prepared to strengthen monitoring and regulation by local authorities and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), including asking them to take strong action where improvement is required or staff movement is not being restricted.

We will be monitoring the implementation of this carefully and will be swift in our actions to protect residents and colleagues across the country

This can include restricting a service’s operation, issuing warning notices, or placing conditions on a provider’s registration.

Further details of how the winter plan will be enforced will be set out shortly.

Hancock said: “We are entering a critical phase in our fight against coronavirus with winter on the horizon and our priority over the next six months is to make sure we protect those most vulnerable receiving care and our incredibly-hard-working workforce by limiting the spread of the virus and preventing a second spike.

“This winter plan gives providers the certainty they need when it comes to PPE and provides additional support to help care homes limit the movement of staff, stop the spread of coronavirus, and save lives.

“We will be monitoring the implementation of this carefully and will be swift in our actions to protect residents and colleagues across the country.”

We are entering a critical phase in our fight against coronavirus with winter on the horizon and our priority over the next six months is to make sure we protect those most vulnerable receiving care and our incredibly-hard-working workforce by limiting the spread of the virus and preventing a second spike

He said the new Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care role would provide clinical and professional leadership, while upholding and raising standards among the care workforce.

Recruitment for the position will begin next month.

And to improve understanding of where infections are taking place in care homes, a dashboard will be introduced as a single point of information for local, regional, and national government to monitor outbreaks and measures being implemented.

Minister for Care, Helen Whately, said: “Our brilliant care workers have been tirelessly looking after our loved ones throughout this pandemic, and COVID-19 rates have come right down in social care through the summer.

“With cases beginning to rise now, we must take the strongest-possible action to stop the virus and protect people.

“The creation of the Chief Nurse for Social Care is also an important step and will provide leadership to social care nurses and the wider care workforce who often work unseen.”

The unveiling of the winter plan will be supported by the publishing of the Adult Social Care COVID-19 Support Taskforce report highlighting the effectiveness of the fund and the care home support package.

This winter plan gives providers the certainty they need when it comes to PPE and provides additional support to help care homes limit the movement of staff, stop the spread of coronavirus, and save lives

Chairman of the taskforce, David Pearson, said: “A test of any country is the degree to which it supports and enables those who need care and support to stay safe and to lead the best lives they can.

“This report draws from expertise from across the social care sector and sets out the actions that should be taken to help keep people safe while maintaining their independence.

“Close co-ordination between local and national bodies within the sector is critically important to the success of the sector and will play an important part in keeping people safe and healthy in the winter months ahead.

“The report will also look at how we can learn from the first phase of the virus and sets out a number of recommendations to the government to prepare the sector and the workforce for winter.”