The government has expanded its care home testing programme to include those with learning disabilities and mental health problems and set up a New Social Care Sector COVID-19 Support Taskforce.
Every care home in England will now be offered a coronavirus test for residents and staff, even if they have no symptoms, while the new taskforce will be chaired by David Pearson CBE.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “From today all remaining adult care homes in England will be able to order the whole care home testing service for residents and staff. This service will benefit residents and staff in over 6,000 more care homes.
“It will mean that right across the care home sector everyone will have the certainty and confidence of a high quality coronavirus test, whether symptomatic or not, certainty about whether or not they’re carrying the virus and confidence that they are doing the right thing both to protect themselves and others.”
Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC), welcomed the rolling out testing to all social care locations, including those supporting people with learning disability.
She said: “We look forward to further detail on the timetable for testing of people who use community based services, particularly extra care housing and supported living services.
“As we continue to increase the number of physical inspections we’re undertaking, our inspectors remain in regular contact with adult social care providers to offer support, advice and information to help them deliver safe care – and I urge staff to contact CQC directly if they experience any barriers that impact on the delivery of this care.”
Care home providers are now able to access the government’s online portal to order tests for their residents or staff regardless of symptoms. In addition, DHSC is contacting all care homes to highlight this service and encourage tests to be ordered.
Commenting on his appointment to the Support Taskforce, David, who is the former President of ADASS and the social care COVID-19 lead for the NHS, said: “The social care sector is on the frontline of our coronavirus response. This taskforce will support the service by overseeing the delivery of the Social Care Action Plan and the Care Homes Intensive Support Package.
“This will play an important part in ensuring we are doing everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the sector, both for those who rely on care and support and the social care workforce.”
David’s appointment and the launch of the Support Taskforce was welcomed by social care leaders.
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group (ICG), said: “An expert-led task force is something we have called for for many years, as a way to take social care forward.
“We are delighted to see this new task force announced and hope it works swiftly to not only help everyone who is looked after by social care through coronavirus, but also to look at the whole future of social care and guide it into a more sustainable future, with better funding and parity with the NHS.”
Vic Rayner, Vic Rayner, Executive Director, National Care Forum, added: “This taskforce will provide a real opportunity for all partners to work together to ensure a coordinated focus on managing this virus, and bring energy and attention to the way in which COVID-19 is impacting social care now – and critically in planning and preparation for the future.”