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The winter plan: 6 key points for adult social care providers
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On Friday 18th September, the Department of Health and Social Care released their winter plan for the adult social care sector. The plan, in effect until March 2021, details the support services it aims to provide across a large number of subjects relating to the coronavirus pandemic, and also the actions which health care providers should take during this time.
The main objective of the plan is to prevent the spread of viral infection, not just COVID-19 but also other illnesses like seasonal flu. By putting the necessary safety measurements in place and supplying additional funding and training resources, outbreaks will hopefully be limited and controllable through the winter season, with the end goal being to protect lives of both care home workers and residents.
There are many areas of the winter plan to read through in detail, but here are six useful key points that we picked out for quick reading.
1. More guidance for preventing & controlling the spread of infection in care settings
In addition to the official government COVID-19 guidance for the adult social care sector, care providers have been asked to keep on top of procedures by using a range of new and updated relevant resources.
Featured among the recommended support is a newly developed COVID-19 guidance portal specifically for adult social care providers created by the Department of Health and Social Care and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). A set of clinical guidelines published by NICE has also been noted, which consists of advice for suspected or confirmed pneumonia in adults, as well as a variety other serious health conditions.
Throughout the winter period, national and local partners will work together with the public to help prevent, contain and manage outbreaks. The COVID-19 contain framework, which ministers are accountable for setting, overseeing and if necessary, intervening, can be found by clicking here and may be updated as the situation develops.
Ongoing infection prevention and control training for all staff is highly encouraged, and in the event of an outbreak, a learning review should be undertaken with support from a local authority. Skills for Care is currently creating an online training package to support care staff with carrying out learning reviews, due for release at the end of October 2020.
2. Additional technology and digital support
Benefits of choosing digital services to help manage the effects of COVID-19 have been recognised. There’s reportedly been an “unprecedented shift” by the health and care workforce in the methods used to access health information, advice and clinical care. The plan also notes how technology has made it easier for people to keep in touch with their loved ones.
The winter plans asks care providers to consider how technology or digital solutions could help to protect the people in their care, specifically from COVID-19 and how to keep family and friends connected. Installation and technical support with Microsoft Teams, the communication and business platform, is to be offered for free, along with discounted internet broadband deals, as well as the distribution of free tablet devices to homes with the greatest need.
Click here to find out more about ordering a free tablet. Please note, the deadline for submitting the order form is Friday 23rd October 2020 and only care providers that meet the eligibility criteria will be able to apply.
3. Extended funding for infection control
The original Infection Control Fund announced earlier this year, which supports the implementation of infection control measures, is due to conclude at the end of September. Now, an additional £546 million of funding is to be made available to local authorities to help them maintain support through the pandemic, including to adult social care providers through the winter.
To be eligible for the extended fund, care providers will need to meet a set of conditions due to be announced later in the year. In the meantime, the plan advises homes which applied for the initial round of the Infection Control Fund to continue using their funds until the deadline at the end of September whilst providing the required data as per the official guidance.
4. Extra support available to limit staff movement
Like earlier restrictions, the winter plan reminds care providers that staff movement should be restricted in and between care settings. To minimise the risk of infection of COVID-19 and other viral illnesses, including flu, staying in one location is of critical importance unless it’s necessary.
The Infection Control Fund, which will be extended, will support care providers in placing the necessary measures required to limit movement. This may be done through hiring additional staff or by arranging an exclusivity agreement with recruitment agencies.
5. Get free personal protective equipment (PPE)
The growing demand for PPE was highlighted along with the financial challenges that have come with maintaining a steady supply. To help ensure the highest standards of safety are met over the winter period, care homes and domiciliary care providers will be able to claim free PPE through the dedicated portal or through their Local Resilience Forum (LRF) until March 2021 for COVID-19 needs.
If you happen to be in an area where your LRF is choosing to cease distribution of PPE, the Department of Health and Social Care have reassured that they are working with local authorities to reinstate the service. Check with your local LRF contact for updates.
The plan requests everyone follow the relevant guidance for using PPE and to report any shortages using either the Capacity Tracker or the CMC community care survey.
6. Visiting guidance to be periodically reviewed
Directors of Public Health are to regularly assess whether their local communities are at higher risk of increasing infection rates. They will have the power to declare an “area of intervention”, meaning extra restrictions may be imposed regarding visitors to care settings in a certain area. However, end of life situations can be exempt to allow visits, regardless of the restrictions at the time.
In any case, care homes should create their own policies for limiting visitor numbers, in accordance with official guidance by their Director of Public Health and own risk assessments. Existing guidance on visiting, published in July 2020, which outlines how care providers can manage the risks of visitation will be updated shortly.
CareDocs can provide support to help with COVID-19 care and infection control measures in your organisation. For example, customers can access easy-to-use forms for recording symptoms, test samples and test results in residents and staff, and also a symptom check form for visitors. A wide range of conditions can also be represented physically for residents using Body Maps.
Checking the COVID-19 status of individuals or groups across a business is simple. Our instant reporting tools help give you a clearer overview of who may have coronavirus and who has tested positive or negative. You can then use this information to find who has been in contact with an affected person and take necessary action. For convenience, downloadable policies and procedure documents for COVID-19 and controlling infection outbreaks can be viewed directly through the system.
Family and friends can stay up to date with the care which loved ones are receiving through our CareDocs Connect feature. With the consent of the individual, Connect users can share messages, photos and files with the care staff, helping to provide peace of mind.
Many new customers have been in contact with us to use their grant funds to purchase CareDocs subscriptions. Get in touch with our business development team to find out more about how CareDocs can help you achieve this.
Telephone: 0330 056 3333
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