Care leaders are calling for a united front in the fight against COVID-19 as they battle to care for and protect the country’s oldest and most vulnerable.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) says social care workers and the NHS are doing an amazing job as they tackle the virus, despite shortcomings in equipment.
Social care teams up and down the country are caring for people with COVID-19 in nursing homes and in people’s own homes.
ICG Chair, Mike Padgham said: “Yes, there is a shortage of adequate protective equipment for social care and NHS staff, but this is not the time to be pointing the finger of blame and arguing; that can come later. We have to address the situation we are facing here and now.
“It also isn’t the time for people to be profiteering from the supply of vital PPE and agency nursing staff – most aren’t but some are.
“At the moment all our energies should be going into working together – social care, NHS, local authorities – to get the people we provide care for and our staff through this horrific period.
“Social care staff, alongside NHS colleagues, are doing an amazing job at the most challenging of times and all deserve the greatest support the country can provide for them. “The support social care is starting to receive is encouraging and I hope that finally people are seeing what a vital job our workers do. Perhaps once this is over, that recognition will become greater support for the sector.”
In the meantime, the ICG has written to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, calling on him to find a way to financially support struggling social care providers.
In its letter, Mr Padgham writes: “Firstly, many have found that admissions to care and nursing homes are falling, often because they cannot take new residents because of the virus. Secondly, they are facing higher costs in increasing staffing levels due to absences because of the virus. And thirdly, there are huge cost implications in terms of the materials used in providing care during the current pandemic. All of these, and more, are contributing to very real financial difficulties for what has become one of the Government’s key armies in the fight against COVID-19 .”
The Group is calling for some financial help for providers, in particular for the Chancellor to make social care zero-rated for VAT, which would save providers money.
At the moment care providers face the anomaly of paying VAT for goods and services but being unable to charge VAT themselves, to offset some of those costs.
“Making social care providers zero-rated for VAT would tackle that anomaly and provide a much-needed boost to providers,” Mr Padgham adds in the letter.
He said: “Social care is getting some recognition during the coronavirus pandemic and we are grateful for that. The Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock wrote to carers last weekend expressing his thanks.
“But we have to back that up with some financial support too.”
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.