Care providers will be given an extra £546m to support infection control procedures over the winter months, the government has announced.
The Infection Control Fund, which has been extended until March 2021, is being made available to help pay staff wages for those self-isolating and hire more staff to restrict movement between homes.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “From the very beginning we have done everything possible to make sure our social care system is protected and has the resources it needs to keep our brilliant workforce and those they care for safe.
“This new funding of over half a billion pounds will support not only care home residents, but also some of the most vulnerable in society living at home and in supported living.
“I know this will give peace of mind to so many, and we will set out further detail in our Adult Social Care Winter Plan this week.”
This brings the total funding for infection control measures in care homes to over £1.1bn.
Nadra Ahmed OBE, executive chairman of the National Care Association, told CHP: “It is good to see that the Infection Prevention Control Fund has been extended over the winter months as it is the only bit of funds released which providers have been able to access – although we know the conditions attached have presented some challenges. Clearly, government is beginning to realise the importance of supporting our providers and workforce and we hope that this is a small step which will lead to sustainable funding solutions to ensure we can build a robust and sustainable offer to some of the most vulnerable members of our society and recognise the commitment of our workforce.”
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, added: “Care England welcomes the extension in time and scope of the Infection Control Fund. It has been a real life line for care homes in this incredibly challenging time. We look forward to learning more details in due course and the associated winter plan.”
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum said: “In the nick of time, the government has announced an extension of the Infection Control Fund. This ring-fenced finance has been a vital lifeline for many providers of care to ensure they are able to support staff who are isolating, and to minimise movement of staff within and between homes. It is imperative that this funding reaches the front line quickly. We welcome the funding, and need urgently the detail to enable understanding of the criteria and timeframe.”
Cllr David Fothergill, health and social care spokesperson for the County Councils Network, said: “Today’s announcement that the Infection Control Fund is going to be renewed for over the winter is reassuring to our staff and care providers who are facing up to a difficult few months. We need to learn from the lessons of the first wave of coronavirus and ensure that government provides social care with the necessary protection it needs over the winter period, instead of seeing the sector as an afterthought to the NHS.
“County authorities have worked quickly to distribute this previous pot of funding directly to providers and will continue to do so over the coming weeks as we prepare for additional pressures during winter.
“We will encourage ministers to make sure the criteria for distributing the fund is as simplified as possible, so councils can get it to the frontline as quickly as possible.”