Government warns of rise in care home COVID-19 infections


The government has stressed the importance of regular testing and consistent use of PPE after the number of coronavirus infections in care homes began to rise.

A leaked Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) report showed the rate of coronavirus recorded through satellite tests, which are mainly used in care homes, had risen fourfold since the start of the month to an estimated 1,100 new cases per day.

The Sunday Times reported that Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock held an emergency update last week which reported that outbreaks had been detected in 43 care homes.

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The rise in infection prompted Stuart Miller Director of Adult Social Care Delivery Department of Health and Social Care to write to care providers to stress the importance of regular testing and consistent use of PPE and urge them to follow the best infection control procedures as set out in government guidance to contain the threat of a further outbreak.

While acknowledging delays to the roll-out of the government’s testing programme, Mr Miller stressed the importance of weekly staff testing and signposted guidance on how this can be accessed.

On PPE, Mr Miller highlighted Public Health England guidance on correct use and how to work safely in care homes. Care homes are advised to order PPE through the government’s PPE Portal.

Mr Miller added the government would be shortly publishing its Adult Social Care Winter Plan which will set out support and resources for care providers over the winter months.

Independent Care Group chair Mike Padgham said care homes were walking “a tightrope” by enabling care home visits as infection rates begin to rise.

Mike said: “The pandemic hasn’t gone away – the recent surge in infection cases shows that and we have to be very, very mindful of a second wave.”

Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum, said the “clock is ticking” on providing clarity on future funding for care providers and called for the renewal of the Infection Control Fund, which ends on 30 September.

A DHSC spokesperson said: “Throughout our coronavirus response we have been doing everything we can to ensure all staff and residents in care homes are protected.

“We are testing all residents and staff, have provided 200 million items of PPE and ring-fenced £600m to prevent infections in care homes, with a further £3.7bn available to councils to address pressures caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care.

“There is a high demand for tests and our laboratories continue to turn test results around as quickly as possible and we plan to rapidly expand it in the coming weeks as well as bringing in new technology to process tests faster.”

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The author Lee Peart

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