Care homes in Cumbria are being offered double their weekly fees to take in COVID positive patients from hospitals, a report has revealed.
Radio 5 said this morning that care homes in the county had been sent a letter in August by their local authority and CCG requesting expressions of interest in taking COVID positive hospital patients. The report said care homes, which had been COVID free for 28 days, were being offered weekly fees of £1,500 to cover the additional expenses of providing care for the patients.
Care home operator Tony Carling said: “It really felt like quite a slap in the face after all the hard work we have done to keep our homes COVID-free up to this point.
“We rely very heavily on local authorities for our client base. The majority of our clients are placed and funded by the local authorities so it’s very difficult to turn down … you are under extreme financial pressure as to whether you will get any further business from that local authority if you don’t support their needs.”
Tony said it was “naïve” of local authorities and CCGs to expect care homes to be able to devote teams to looking after people in isolation when they were having to use agency and bank staff during the COVID crisis.
The care home operator added his staff had been “frightened and anxious” and had sought private reassurance that COVID positive patients would not be taken in by his home.
“I have empty beds in my care home but I am very lucky that I have owners who would rather keep those beds empty than take additional finance and take COVID positive residents into our home,” he told Radio 5.
Nadra Ahmed OBE, Executive Chairman of the National Care Association, told CHP: “Caring for someone with a COVID-19 diagnosis involves a multifaceted response from the service which may include addition staff with agreed remunerations for the extra time and risk, additional clinical support, PPE, disinfecting procedures etc. This means that the average of £550/600pw paid by LAs is not sufficient and some LAs may have recognised this and are offering enhanced rates from the funding made available to them. Providers will need to balance the risk to their residents and staff and the impact on their businesses before agreeing to accept a discharge from hospital with a positive diagnosis and ensure that they can manage the care for the potential resident whilst keep their staff and current residents safe. This is not a case of enhanced funding but one of the balance of risk.”
A Cumbria County Council spokesperson said: “Some care providers will be able to accommodate patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 through effective isolation strategies or cohorting, policies which are consistent with national hospital discharge guidance. The increased financial support is in recognition of the additional costs that will be incurred by the provider for example increased infection control and isolation and staffing measures that would need to be followed. Participation is entirely voluntary.”
The Department of Health and Social Care added: “Our approach has been guided at all times by the latest scientific advice. We have been clear that no care home should be forced to admit an existing or new resident to the care home if they do not feel they can provide the appropriate care.
“In our new winter plan for social care, we have extended the Infection Control Fund – with a total of £1.1 billion ringfenced to help care providers reduce COVID-19 transmission – we are providing free PPE to care homes across England and we are ensuring care providers limit staff movements between care homes to prevent the spread of infection.”