Care providers are being put on standby for an influx of older and vulnerable adults as they work together with other organisations in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) is calling on its members to be ready to take in more residents, increase capacity and help more people in their own home wherever possible.
It is also calling for more volunteers to help in social care and for all supermarkets to support social care workers just like they are helping NHS staff.
The Group’s Chair, Mike Padgham, said: “These are challenging times and I have been proud of the way the social care sector and the NHS are together responding to the huge task of trying to protect the country’s oldest and most vulnerable.
“But I fear the pandemic is some way off reaching its peak and we need to step up our efforts to deal with what is to come. We have to keep the chain moving. The hospitals will need to keep discharging people to keep beds empty for coronavirus patients. We have to do our best to meet that demand, keep taking new admissions, try to free up extra space if needed and increase capacity in the community.”
He said social care would need more volunteers to cope with the extra demand, particularly if existing staff came down with the virus.
“We support Care England’s message ‘social care needs you too’ as we know social care is going to need retired care workers or anyone currently with time on their hands to help,” Mr Padgham added.
“People should get in touch with their local homes and home care providers and ask if they can help.”
He said social care staff were still struggling to get support themselves, despite being designated as key workers by the Government.
“Some supermarkets, like Sainsbury’s, are helping social care workers get the provisions they need at designated times whilst they tackle the job of caring for people. But others are not and we would appeal to all supermarkets to recognise social care as much as they are recognising the wonderful NHS workers at this time. All are working together to do a fantastic job.”
Social care currently looks after 400,000 people in care and nursing homes – that is three times the number in NHS hospital beds. Social care looks after a further 640,000 people in their own homes.