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Disabilities services threatened by mounting coronavirus costs

Robert Shanahan

Social care services for people with disabilities and autism could be forced to close due to mounting coronavirus costs, a charity has warned.

Aspens Charities, which support children and adults with a range of disabilities in the south east, called on the government to fund the full cost of social care during the crisis.

Robert Shanahan, Aspens Charities CEO, (pictured) said: “As well as the devastating human impact of Covid-19, there’s a huge financial impact for the social care sector, which could also be devastating. Aspens is losing thousands of pounds every day, because we’ve had to close our funded day services and high street charity shops – we’ll lose about £1 million in donations this year. At the same time, we’re facing extra costs for PPE and agency staff, who are covering shifts for 1 in 6 of our frontline carers who are off work because of Covid-19. We also need funds to move much-needed services online.

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“Over the coming weeks, we will no doubt need to provide round-the-clock care for more of our service users, and potentially end-of-life care to meet the needs of the people we care for while freeing up NHS beds. The people we support have a range of disabilities, complex needs and autism, and we will do everything we can to continue giving them the quality of care and dignity they deserve. But the government must recognise that the social care sector is already thinly stretched after years of underfunding.”

In further news, research compiled by the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) and Professor Chris Hatton from Lancaster University has revealed there is a risk of essential services for disabled people being excluded from the government’s COVID-19 response.

The research revealed that only 0.6% of people supported (61 out of 9,708) were tested for COVID-19 but of those tested, 77% (47) tested positive. Only 0.5% of frontline staff (36 out of 6,906) were tested for COVID-19 but of those tested, 53% (19) tested positive, with two workers having died with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, and one with a suspected diagnosis.

The data revealed high rates of staff sickness absence with 13% of frontline staff off sick across the dates data was reported.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this global pandemic.

“Our adult social care action plan sets out how we are protecting workers by ramping up testing across the system for care workers and their families and we’re ensuring millions of additional PPE items reach those on the frontline with Local Resilience Forums identifying those most in need of more.

“The Secretary of State has written to local authorities outlining how the £1.6bn funding for local authorities should support social care providers and workers. To ensure this additional funding is making a difference we are asking local authorities to provide information about the distribution of this funding to providers.”

 

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