Council in support of adult social care reforms

Councillor Sarah James starts petition calling for adult social care funding commitments

Cllr Sarah James

By Luchia Robinson

Cllr Sarah James (Harringay), cabinet member for adults and health has begun a petition calling for the government to fulfil its promise of giving councils the required funding to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The petition asks for the government to fully fund adult social care, and to ensure regular testing for staff and service users, the provision of secure supplies of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and to also guarantee that hospitals do not discharge patients with COVID-19 into care homes.

In response to the coronavirus health crisis, the government announced £3.2 billion in emergency funding for local social care departments to form partnerships with the NHS.

Haringey Council’s emergency response has included: establishing services to care for vulnerable people whose carer is admitted to hospital with COVID-19; implementing the new COVID-19 hospital discharge arrangements; providing emergency stocks of PPE for care homes and supporting them with infection management.

Care home deaths account for 40% of the UK COVID-19 fatalities. It is also estimated that local authorities nationally are facing a £10bn coronavirus funding shortfall.

Haringey Council says it has spent in excess of the funding it has received for social care, and guaranteed funding will minimise further risks to the vulnerable.

Cllr Sarah James said: “Social care is invaluable yet incredibly underfunded; the pandemic has only highlighted the importance of the role it plays in relation to the NHS.

“Now is the time for a National Care Service to give adult social care parity with the NHS and ensure that those who need care and support get the properly funded, reliable and high-quality service they deserve.

“As a result of the pandemic, councils face a £10bn funding shortfall putting disabled, frail and older people, and care workers at risk. That’s why I have started this petition, calling for the government to provide full funding of Adult Social Care, now and after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A recent survey conducted by Healthwatch Haringey asked care home managers in the borough how they are coping with COVID-19, and whether they feel supported in providing good quality care.

Of the 17 responses received, around one third of Haringey’s care homes had had cases of COVID-19 amongst their residents and staff. There had been initial staffing problems because of absences, and although the care homes had access to test kits for staff, they didn’t have access to tests for their residents. As a result, 45% of care homes said that residents coming or returning to their care homes from hospital were not being tested for the virus before being discharged into their care. In addition, care home managers say hospitals need to do more work to ensure good planning and support is in place for those who are discharged.

Worries about PPE were also expressed. Although the care home managers have been able to provide staff with equipment, they have concerns about future supplies of hand sanitisers and face masks, which have been in short supply.

40% of the managers were unsure whether their care homes would be financially viable beyond the next twelve months – their main concerns being staff retention, and rising costs.

The report findings will be fedback to Haringey Council and its NHS partners in order to help inform the council’s COVID-19 forward planning.

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