The Social Care Action Plan came out yesterday and while we are pleased that the profile of Social Care is at last being acknowledged, we have had a good look through and there is very little that we haven’t already reported on or are indeed already doing locally. So, below we have tried to pick out some of the things you may want to be aware of. Do please read the full plan Coronavirus (COVID-19): adult social care action plan.

You may also want to see how local government is handling this.

Intro: Clearly the challenges of COVID-19 go far beyond anything we have previously experienced. Our approach is made of four pillars:

  1. Controlling the spread of infection
  2. Supporting the workforce
  3. Supporting independence, supporting people at the end of their lives, and responding to individual needs
  4. Supporting local authorities and the providers of care

This action plan sets out our approach for all settings and contexts in which people receive adult social care.

We would suggest people read particularly
1.11, 1.25, 1.27, 1.30, 1.32-35, 2.22, 2.43, 2.43, 2.45

– To support this PHE will work with the care sector representative bodies to produce some specialised training videos for donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) of standard PPE by the 17th April 2020 and will offer tailored insights into how the PPE guidance applies in care settings. We will keep under review what other forms of COVID-19: Adult Social Care Action Plan  training and support may be required locally to ensure safety and respond to the needs of staff working in the sector.

1.25All care providers can and should look to their local authority and local health services for support. This is true whether the care provider has a contract with the local authority or not.

1.27 – At present, testing is done on the first five symptomatic residents in a care home setting with an outbreak. We can now confirm that we will move to all symptomatic residents in care homes being tested.

1.30 – We are mindful that some care providers are concerned about being able to effectively isolate COVID-positive residents, and we are determined to make sure discharges into nursing or social care do not put residents currently in those settings at risk. We can now confirm we will move to institute a policy of testing all residents prior to admission to care homes. This will begin with all those being discharged from hospital and the NHS will have a responsibility for testing these specific patients, in advance of timely discharge. Where a test result is still awaited, the patient will be discharged and pending the result, isolated in the same way as a COVID-positive patient will be (paragraph 1.32).

1.32A small number of people may be discharged from the NHS within the 14-day period from the onset of COVID-19 symptoms needing ongoing social care. They will have been COVID-19 tested and have confirmed COVID-positive status. Some care providers will be able to accommodate these individuals through effective isolation strategies or cohorting policies. If appropriate isolation/cohorted care is not available with a local care provider, the individual’s local authority will be asked to secure alternative appropriate accommodation and care for the remainder of the required isolation period. The Government has made £1.3 billion available to support enhanced discharge from the NHS, and this funding can be drawn on for this alternative provision. We expect local authorities to work together with the NHS to put this approach into practice, in accordance with the NHS Discharge Requirements.

1.33 – For people discharged asymptomatic into a care home – these individuals will have been tested prior to admission (as per paragraph 1.30). Where these tests are negative, we still recommend isolation for 14 days. This will normally be in a care home that is able to meet that requirement, or it could be under alternative local authority made arrangements assisted by appropriate NHS primary and community based care. The NHS Discharge Requirements will continue to apply.

1.34For individuals coming from the community – as set out in paragraph 1.30, we will move to these residents being tested prior to admission. The majority will have come from isolation in their own homes given social distancing and shielding policies. After discussion with the new resident and family, the care home may wish to isolate the new resident for a 14-day period following admission.

1.35 – Any individual being taken on by a domiciliary care or a supported living care provider should continue to be cared for as possibly COVID-positive until the 14- day period has passed, within their home, following the relevant guidance for Personal Protective Equipment.

2.22 – Nurses also play a critical role in social care. We have seen an incredible response to the NHS call for nurses who have recently left the nursing register to return to practice, and for nursing students in their final year to undertake extended and remunerated final placements. Nurses and student nurses are being deployed by the regional hubs where they are needed most, irrespective of setting or organisational boundaries. As part of this approach, nurses will be deployed to support social care.

Using technology to support social care and quality of life

2.42 – Technology has a big part to play in supporting social care through COVID-19. We have been working with technology firms to find solutions that work for the social care sector. We have launched the TechForce19 competition to reach out to innovators who can support the elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating during COVID19 for instance by enabling remote care both in care homes and domiciliary care, and optimising staffing in the care sector.

2.43 – We are also working with technology firms to help some of society’s most at-risk and isolated people access vital emotional support and companionship during this time. COVID-19: Adult Social Care Action Plan 21 As part of this, Facebook will provide up to 2,050 of its Portal video calling devices for free to hospitals, care homes and other settings, and 50 devices have already been deployed to pilot sites in Surrey, with Manchester, Newcastle and London and other areas to follow.

2.45 – Early on in the crisis we launched a text messaging service for extremely vulnerable people to provide up to date information, guidance and advice to support them during their isolation.

One of the things that comes out very clearly in this plan is that Nationally initiatives are now being picked up that we are already working on locally in Hertfordshire. We will do all we can to keep offering you the local services we have been running very successfully like recruitment, volunteers, the Academy and localised training.