The National Care Forum (NCF) has called for the extension of emergency funding to support the resumption of care home visits.
A survey of its members found “grave levels of concern” over how long visits can be sustained without the continuation of emergency funding which is due to expire on 31 March.
Vic Rayner, CEO of the NCF, (pictured) said: “It is impossible to understand why the government, with less than two weeks to go before the end of March, is remaining silent about continuing the funding that has been central to enabling the reintroduction of visiting at pace and scale and the ongoing programme of rapid testing for visitors, staff and residents.
“In our survey of NCF members, 83% of care homes were using the Infection Control Fund to facilitate visits, including providing additional staff, cleaning and space for testing and visitors. 85% of respondents were using the Rapid Testing Fund to provide staff to carry out and record the testing of visitors.
“This heavy reliance on the emergency funding to make visiting happen, means that without this money, the return to regular visiting is being put in jeopardy. The government must immediately confirm that this funding will be extended or risk breaking the commitment to an ‘irreversible’ step forward around visiting.”
The NCF’s concerns echo a call for the extension of emergency funding by Care England last week.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have spent billions of pounds on adult social care during the pandemic, including on infection and prevention control measures, free PPE, priority vaccinations and additional testing.
“We are incredibly grateful for the efforts of staff across the social care sector who are working tirelessly on the frontline of this pandemic and we are committed to providing the sector with the support it needs.
“Funding to support testing, staffing and infection control measures is in place and we continually review the need for further investment.”