Social media firms introduce global measures to protect children

Leading social media platforms have implemented new global measures to protect children after the UK introduced new regulations aimed at ensuring child safety online.

On Thursday 2nd September 2021, the UK introduced a new set of regulations to protect children when they are online, which include the possibility of multi-million-dollar fines for any companies that breach its new “age-appropriate design code.”

A meaningful impact on global online safety

Now, social media giants Twitter, TikTok and Facebook, which also owns Instagram, have implemented the required changes globally.

Worldwide measures include TikTok turning off notifications for children past bedtime, Instagram disabling targeted adverts for under-18s altogether, and YouTube switching off its autoplay function for teenage users.

Beeban Kidron, a crossbench peer who lobbied for the code, says that the measures prove that countries like the UK can have a meaningful impact on global internet safety.

She commented:

“If one code can create societal change, then actually, what it means is they’re not exempt. This tech exceptionalism that has defined the last decade – ‘we are different’ – just disappears in a puff of smoke.”

The age appropriate design code

Kidron introduced the one-line amendment requiring the Information Commissioner to establish an age-appropriate design code (AADC) to the Data Protection Act 2018.

The AADC contains 15 standards that online services, including social media platforms, apps, games, content streaming services, search engines and news and educational services, must follow to protect children online.

It applies to all UK-based companies and any non-UK companies who process the personal data of UK children.

Now, unless tech companies can prove that their service is not likely to be used at all by children, they must make their entire platform compatible with the code or identify younger users and ensure they are treated with care.

The code ensures that companies cannot employ ‘nudge’ techniques to encourage children to give up more of their privacy than they would otherwise choose to and minimises the amount of data that they can collect about children. Younger users must also be offered privacy options which default to the maximum-security settings and companies must switch off geolocation services that track where in the world child users are.

Will the law bring positive change?

Many of the world’s largest tech companies began making significant changes to their services in the weeks before the code officially came into law.

Elle Todd, a partner at law firm Reed Smith, believes that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will take its responsibility – and ability to levy fines – seriously now that the code has taken legal effect.

She commented:

“We wholly expect that the ICO will be following up with tech companies and others to see what changes have actually been made now or are made over the coming months.

“However, one of the most interesting questions around engagement and the AADC concerns not the regulators, but children and teens themselves. Teens are tech savvy and reluctant to be treated differently, so it remains to be seen how much of an impact filters and nudges towards positive behaviour can make.”

Draft Online Safety Bill ‘falls short’

Many campaigners, including Kidron, are now focused on the upcoming Online Safety Bill, which is seen as the government’s true flagship internet regulation.

It comes as the NSPCC reveals that online abuse crimes have risen by 78% over the last 4 years and that online grooming crimes specifically have jumped by around 70% over the last 3 years. They say that the draft bill currently falls short of sufficiently protecting children from becoming part of these statistics.

Kidron explained that her work with children in the UK and internationally has shown her that “they all agree about what digital world they want.”

She said: “It’s less important that they’re in Rwanda or Kenya or Virginia, US, or Berlin, or London, because they’re all using the same services designed the same way and having the same experience.

“How this technology is designed is curating the experience of childhood. And I don’t think people have understood that.”

Safeguarding children

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services. Their courses include Safeguarding Children.

A trainer from FRT says: “Safeguarding children means protecting them off and online. It’s so important that we are mindful of the harms they could be exposed to online and that there are mechanisms in place to protect them, and to offer them help and support when they need it most.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Parents have lost faith in child mental health care

An investigation carried out by the BBC has found that parents and headteachers have lost faith in the mental health care system for children and young people as they face “agonisingly” long waits for treatment.

After examining data from half of England’s services, investigators found that 1 in 5 children seen for mental health problems during the past year waited over 12 weeks.

Doctors have even reported that “distressed and agitated” children who have been struggling during the pandemic are ending up in emergency departments and are being admitted on to general wards, even though they lack specialist mental health support.

Dr Catherine Hayhurst, from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, told the BBC that it had become “difficult to manage on the wards.”

NHS England said there was “no doubt that the pandemic has turned children and young people’s lives upside down,” and that it was in the process of significantly expanding access to mental health services in order to help them.

Children face long waits for mental health support

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) saw 420,000 children and young people during 2020-21. However, an estimated 1.5 million under-18s are thought to have a mental health disorder.

The waits faced by children accessing these specialist services are not routinely published but data obtained by the BBC from 46 services through a Freedom of Information Request (FOIR) showed that half of those seen waited longer than four weeks. A fifth of referred children waited more than 12 weeks, and the average wait for services was more than two months. Shockingly, in some areas, waiting times even topped 8 months.

A third of the Trusts provided data on children and young people who were still waiting for specialist mental health support. The numbers have doubled since the first lockdown ended in June 2020.

The overall figures do suggest that there has been an improvement in waiting times since before the pandemic took hold, but this could be due to a reduction in people coming forward for help during the first national lockdown in 2020.

The BBC also reports that some of the services closed their waiting lists altogether during lockdown, meaning that the full extent of the waits could be undercounted.

Children’s mental health services ‘overwhelmed’

Now one headteacher says the long waits have caused her to lose faith with child mental health services.

Michelle Catterson runs Moon Hall School in Surrey, which teaches children aged 7 to 16 who have dyslexia. She says the pandemic has been “really difficult” for children and that the support they so desperately need is often missing.

She explained: “Services are completely overwhelmed as things stand currently.

“When I have parents that are in a really desperate situation, I’m often reluctant to refer them because I know the length of time that they’ll have to wait, and sometimes there just isn’t that opportunity to wait.

“You need that support right there, right then, to try and help the child and the family.”

Meanwhile, Emma Thomas, the Chief Executive of national youth mental health charity YoungMinds, said: “We have seen a big rise in referrals to mental health services and, as this data shows, it’s clear they have been struggling to cope. The pandemic has had a huge impact on young people’s mental health, exacerbating existing pressures and creating new ones.

“The young people we work with have told us that they have struggled with isolation, loneliness and concerns about the future, while those that experienced trauma during the lockdowns, or were already experiencing inequalities, are likely to be disproportionately affected.”

NHS England says that, by 2023, services will be able to support an additional 345,000 children and young people struggling with their mental health.

Plans also include the rollout of school mental health teams in order to provide earlier support to children than CAMHS services.

Children at risk while waiting for mental health care

The report by the BBC comes after Youth Mental Health Day, established by charity Stem4, which focussed this year on helping young people #StrideForward with their mental health and wellbeing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Stem4 Teachers Survey 2020 suggested that more than half (54%) of teachers felt their students’ mental health had suffered negatively as a result of the pandemic.

Despite this, less than a third of 5–19-year-olds with a mental health condition were receiving access to care and treatment on the NHS, and 73% of teachers said the pandemic had impacted their school or college’s ability to deliver on its own mental health strategy for pupils.

More than half of the teachers questioned (57%) said they feared students with mental health problems would come to harm while waiting for treatment.

Youth mental health training and support

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services.

Their courses include Understanding Mental Health, Youth Mental Health First Aid and Self-Harm Awareness.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Children have faced isolation, loneliness, academic upheaval, bereavement and other difficulties over the past year, and, on top of this, when they do come forward with concerns about their mental health they may have to wait a long time for the specialist support they need.

“It’s therefore vitally important that anyone who works closely with children and young people has an understanding of mental health, is able to spot the signs that someone may be struggling and can offer appropriate early help and support. Focused training can help with this.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Care providers face ‘catastrophic shortages’ as jab deadline looms

Union leaders warn that care providers could face “catastrophic” staff shortages if the government refuses to scrap its deadline of 11th November for all care workers in England to be double-jabbed.

The current deadline means that any care home workers or volunteers who have not yet taken up the vaccine must receive their first dose today in order to receive their second dose on time and continue to work in the sector. There are exemptions for those with certain medical conditions.

The policy was introduced to protect people living in care homes, who are among the most vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19.

Severe staffing crisis in care sector

But Unison has estimated that up to 70,000 care home workers in England may not be fully vaccinated by the 11th November deadline.

They say that this could put many care homes at risk of closure and that care agencies are already unable to provide emergency cover, creating a “severe staffing crisis,” for the sector.

Christine McAnea, General Secretary of the union, said:

“Everyone that can have the vaccine should have the vaccine, but the government has persisted with a heavy-handed approach despite warnings from care employers of the dire consequences.

“This move is damaging a sector already on its knees and undermining trust in the vaccine.”

She added that, if care providers struggle to fill roles vacated by unvaccinated staff, “the level and volume of care offered will be reduced,” and that the policy was “actively driving experienced staff away” from a sector already under immense pressure.

GMB national officer Rachel Harrison commented:

“Forcing vaccination of our key workers is not the way to address vaccine hesitancy.

“Care is already facing a staffing black hole of 170,000 by the end of the year. Even in a best-case scenario, we will lose tens of thousands of key workers if the jab is forced on them.

“How will care bosses deal with these huge staffing vacancies? How can they reassure people residents will receive safe care?”

Care workers feel ‘demoralised’

Meanwhile, David Kelly from workplace management app Deputy said the vaccine policy had left many care workers feeling “demoralised and undervalued.”

He added: “A number have explained they are not ‘anti vaxxers’ but have personal reasons for not wanting the vaccine, ranging from religious and cultural reasons, to health concerns.”

Supporting care staff with training and guidance

Skills for Care has grouped together vaccination guidance and advice from a number of sources to help aid employers in the care sector.

Their locality teams are also available to offer workplace support for local authorities and employers.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social organisations, such as Infection Control and PreventionSafeguarding AdultsDuty of CareEquality, Diversity and InclusionUnderstanding Mental Health and many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“This is a difficult issue for both care workers and employers. On the one hand, it is vitally important that vulnerable care home residents are kept safe and that they can be provided with high quality, compassionate and person centred care from the right people at the right time, without being placed at risk.

“On the other hand, vaccination is a personal choice and there are many reasons why someone may choose not to take up the vaccine or may be hesitant. The best that any organisation and any worker can do is to ensure they are properly informed, from credible, reliable sources, about the virus and vaccinations and that they are up to date with all key guidance and advice.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Skills for Care launch Day of Remembrance and Reflection

Skills for Care have joined with 20 other social care bodies in England to launch the new Social Care Day of Remembrance and Reflection.

Supported by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Minister of State for Social Care, Helen Whately, the memorial day will honour the work of the adult social care workforce throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and remember those who sadly lost their lives.

The first Social Care Day of Remembrance and Reflection will be held in March 2022.

Twenty-one organisations came together to launch the memorial day after the adult social care workforce experienced a particularly challenging 18 months.

It is intended to honour the tireless work and huge sacrifices made by social care workers during the pandemic as well as to remember the estimated 922 staff members who tragically lost their lives to Covid-19 between March 2020 and May 2021.

Tributes to remember care workers

Tributes to care workers can be shared on The Care Workers’ Charity website, where they have launched a dedicated Memorial Wall and Thank You Wall.

Care providers, care workers and those who use care and support services are also encouraged to honour the day through other activities, such as by planting a tree in honour of a lost care worker, holding a minute’s silence or creating a piece of art.

The CEO of Skills for Care, Oonagh Smith, said the workforce development charity was “delighted” to launch the Social Care Day of Remembrance and Reflection, which would thank social care workers for their crucial care and support.

She added:

“As we lead up to the day itself in March, we encourage those who work in social care, those who draw on care and support, and all members of the public to share their tributes to those people in the social care workforce who have had a positive impact on their lives and communities, through our online Memorial Wall and Thank You Wall.

“We look forward to marking the day in March – a day which is sure to be one of mixed emotions as we reflect on the vital contribution of the social care workforce during the pandemic and at all times, and we encourage as many people as possible to join in and ‘Remember Social Care’ on this day.”

Meanwhile, Helen Whately, Minister for Care, spoke of the “bravery of the social care workforce.”

She said:

“Our hearts go out to the families, friends and colleagues who have sadly lost loved ones and we will take this time to honour and remember them.

“We have worked to protect health and social care staff throughout the pandemic and we will continue to support them and their families in any way we can.”

Supporting adult social care through training

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider.

They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Care home residents are at higher risk from coronavirusTheir diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social organisations, such as Infection Control and PreventionSafeguarding AdultsDuty of CareEquality, Diversity and InclusionUnderstanding Mental Health and many others.

First Response Training are a Skills for Care Endorsed Learning Provider for the delivery of classroom, e-learning and webinar training to the social care workforce.

As an Endorsed Provider, FRT have also recently been awarded grant funding to provide free Covid-19 Essential Training for adult social care workers, including Rapid Induction training for new starters, Refresher Training Programmes for existing staff and an exclusive Volunteer Training Programme for all volunteers in the sector.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“We know first-hand from the many organisations we work with that the social care workforce are hard-working and dedicated to providing high quality, safe and compassionate care for those they support. They have been through an incredibly challenging time and wholeheartedly deserve this recognition and thanks.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Half of frontline workers say job pressures are ‘out of control’

An 18-month long study into wellbeing within the emergency services has found that frontline healthcare workers are exhausted and at high risk of experiencing mental health disorders and burnout.

The detailed report from mental health digital platform 87percent.co.uk, entitled The State of Mental Wellbeing on the Frontline, reveals that almost 1 in 2 (49%) frontline workers find their work commitments to be “out of control”, while 61% feel tired most of the time.

Over 10,000 frontline workers were tracked from March 2020 to examine how the Covid-19 mental health crisis has impacted this vital and high-pressured sector.

Emergency services face mental health crisis

Key figures from the report reveal the mental health crisis erupting within the sector following a period of enormous pressure. These include:

  • 10% of staff have recently had suicidal thoughts
  • 45% have felt panic or terror
  • 49% have been distressed by unwanted images and memories
  • 33% have difficulty concentrating
  • 32% report regular symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • 40% are at risk of developing mental health disorders
  • 39% report feeling regularly frustrated by their work

The study found that the majority of staff (60%) had an extremely poor work-life balance, with paramedics, emergency nurses and physicians most likely to report this.

The majority of frontline workers also revealed that their job takes a significant toll on their physical and psychological wellbeing, with 65% saying it made it difficult to sleep, while 63% said it prevents them from being physically fit and healthy. Over half (53%) also reported that the pressures of their job make it difficult to relax.

The researchers are warning that frontline healthcare workers are at high risk of developing conditions such as chronic stress, which can lead to burnout.

Commenting on the report, the Medical Director of NHS Practitioner Health, Dame Clare Gerada, said:

“Within the NHS workforce, many report feeling defeated by work, and these challenges are still unaddressed. Now is the time to normalise rather than catastrophise this sector’s distress and reduce the burden of mental illness on those who care for us.

“Every member of this workforce should be given support, and we must make easy access to services a priority. This report is timely and adds to the evidence that a real and genuine focus on the mental health and wellbeing of this sector will have a positive impact for the national health service.”

Proactive policies needed to improve mental health

Meanwhile, 87percent.co.uk say that the data from their study will provide workers and employers with “the tools that are clinically proven to improve their mental wellbeing.”

They assert that digital solutions can give employers insights on the most effective strategies for supporting and boosting the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.

Their clinical director Doctor Serra Pitts, who is also an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, says it’s vital that employers within the healthcare sector are proactive rather than reactive when it comes to managing mental health.

She explained that they can:

“[…] significantly improve the wellbeing of the frontline sector by having proactive policies that help to maintain work-life balance, access to wellbeing resources and expert-delivered training to equip leadership with the skills to understand the wellbeing challenges of their workforce.”

She added: “Crucially, technology can play a part in accurately measuring the mental fitness of workers and driving insights on the most effective wellbeing strategies for organisations. Tailored to their employees’ needs, these can significantly reduce the risk of mental health difficulties and help organisations thrive.”

Training solutions can support mental health

Mental health learning and development solutions can also play a significant role in helping managers, supervisors and frontline workers to recognise mental health risks and proactively support positive mental health and wellbeing across the workforce.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of providers within the health and social care sector, from NHS services to national and local adult social care providers.

An accredited Mindful Employer themselves, FRT’s specialist mental health training courses include Understanding Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Managing Stress in the Workplace, Anxiety and Phobias Awareness, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide qualified, approved trainers to deliver accredited Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training courses, including the Adult, Youth and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Those working within the health and social care sector have dealt with immense pressure and sadness over the last two years, including changing guidelines, equipment shortages, overwhelmed services, staff shortages, isolation, illness and loss. They have been at the coal face of this pandemic the entire time. It’s not surprising that it has taken its toll on their mental health and wellbeing.

“It’s vitally important for those within this sector to receive mental health care and support, and for organisations to ensure that relevant mental health training is provided for staff.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

It’s Youth Mental Health Day

Today (7th September) marks Youth Mental Health Day 2021, with the theme for this year focussing on how young people can #StrideForward with their mental health and wellbeing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Youth mental health problems are on the riseEstablished by leading youth mental health charity Stem4, the awareness day aims to encourage understanding and discussion of mental health in young people.

Stem4, which supports young people to build positive mental health, founded Youth Mental Health Day (YMHD) in the UK last year. They say that, even before the pandemic, 1 in 6 young people aged 5-16 were living with a mental health disorder.

Following recent challenging times, with national lockdowns, school closures and cancelled exams, it is believed that this figure will have risen.

Teachers fear for students’ mental health

Teachers are concerned about youth mental healthThe Stem4 Teachers Survey 2020 suggested that more than half (54%) of teachers felt their students’ mental health had suffered negatively as a result of the pandemic.

They reported that students were struggling with isolation and loneliness (68%), family difficulties (41%), anxieties around adjusting back to school and academic concerns (47%), friendship breakdowns (33.5%) and food poverty (33%).

Meanwhile, more than 7 in 10 teachers (73%) said the pandemic had impacted their school or college’s ability to deliver on its mental health strategy, leaving many students without the support they need.

Stem4 also revealed that less than 1 in 3 5–19-year-olds with a mental health condition actually get access to care and treatment on the NHS.

As a consequence of this gap in support, teachers were spending an average of 3.6 hours per week dealing with the mental health difficulties of their students. More than half (57%) said they feared students at their school with mental health problems would come to harm while waiting for treatment.

Urgent action needed for youth mental health

Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, founder of stem 4, and creator of apps Calm Harm and Clear Fear, said of the findings:

“[…] Since the start of the pandemic, stem4 has closely monitored daily downloads of our mental health apps: Calm Harm, which helps manage the urge to self-harm, and Clear Fear, which helps manage the symptoms of anxiety. What we see is mental health distress on an unprecedented scale, often as a direct consequence of policy decisions, without the needed interventions in place to minimise their negative effect.

“If this government is serious about turning the tide of mental ill health in this young generation, it needs to keep promises made, act decisively by ring-fencing funds for mental health treatment and take urgent action now. […]”

She added:

“stem4’s research clearly shows that schools and colleges are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on two fronts: physical and psychological. The time for action is now and what children and young people need is access to evidence based services at all levels, from early prevention through to expert NHS help.”

Bringing young voices to the fore

Youth Mental Health Day will put young voices front and centreStem4 says that YMHD helps to engage young people in discussions and activities about how to improve their mental and that it “goes beyond awareness and breaking the stigma surrounding mental health, into tackling the heart of the issue.”

The #StrideForward theme for YMHD 2021 was chosen after the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in numerous decisions being made on behalf of young people, without their input.

The charity says that the day will “place young voices front and centre of the conversation once more,” with young people from across the country invited to reflect on how the pandemic has impacted their lives and share how they intend to #StrideForward and build positive mental health.

Adults must make a commitment to young people

Youth Mental Health Day is intended to get adults across the UK to listen to young people and commit to help rebuild their mental health.

Stem4 provides resources on their website to help schools, sports groups, youth or community groups and workplaces get involved in a #StrideForward activity or event for YMHD 2021.

You can also join in the conversation on social media and share how you will #StrideForward in supporting positive youth mental health, using the campaign hashtag.

Youth mental health training and support

Training and support in youth mental healthFirst Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services.

Their courses include Understanding Mental Health, Youth Mental Health First Aid and Self-Harm Awareness.

A trainer from FRT says:

“We’ve seen countless research studies clearly demonstrating that instances of stress, depression and anxiety have risen during the Covid-19 pandemic, and this includes among children and young people.

“Research also suggests that more young people are expressing their mental health struggles through self-harming behaviours, at a time when they have been faced with isolation, loneliness, academic upheaval and other difficulties. This is extremely worrying.

“It’s vitally important that anyone who works closely with children and young people has an understanding of mental health, is able to spot the signs that someone may be struggling and can offer appropriate support. Focused training can help with this.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Social care reforms to be announced

The Prime Minister is set to announce long-awaited reforms to the social care system in England today (Tuesday 7th September 2021).

Social care reforms to be announcedPrime Minister Boris Johnson is set to present his plans to reform social care in England to MPs and will also announce extra funds to help the NHS deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Later today, he will hold a press conference alongside Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi branded the upcoming proposals to overhaul the social care system as “truly historic and ambitious reform,” though some of the expected measures have already been widely criticised.

MPs criticise proposed NI hike

It is expected that Mr Johnson will announce a rise in National Insurance (NI) by around 1.25% in order to pay for the changes needed. The move means breaking a manifesto promise the party made during the 2019 general election.

Despite widespread acknowledgement that major changes are urgently needed within social care, the plans have faced opposition from some Tory MPs and criticisms from Labour, who say the proposed rise in NI will unfairly target young people and those on lower incomes.

It is now understood, however, that pensioners in work will also have to pay the new, so-called “health and social care levy” even though people of state pension age are exempt from NI payments.

Short and long term funding needed

Funding announced for health and social careAt the start of this week, the NHS was promised an extra £5.4 billion over the next six months to help tackle backlogs that have been made worse by the pandemic.

But the Prime Minister is also expected to tell the Commons today that more funds will be allocated to the NHS for the long-term in order to boost hospital capacity in England to 110% of its current level. In a statement he will tell MPs that the healthcare system has been placed under “enormous strain” and cannot “recover alone.”

It is not known how much money the social care sector will be promised upfront, with longer term funding expected to be “phased in”, though the PM is expected to say that his government will not “duck the tough decisions needed” to fix the country’s “broken” social care system.

It is anticipated that the NHS will be the primary benefactor of the NI rise in the short term, however.

Joyce Pinfield from the National Care Association commented that the social care sector needs funding in both the short and long term.

She explained: “We do need something immediately […] because most care providers are at breaking point.”

Social care system faces significant challenges

The social care sector does face significant challenges – and reforms have been promised, discussed and debated for some time, over successive governments.

Social care system needs fixingDuring 2019-20, local authorities received 1.9 million requests for social care support, an increase of more than 100,000 requests in five years. While the vast majority (1.4 million) were from older people, 560,000 requests came from working age adults.

Despite this clear rise in demand, total expenditure on adult social care has only risen by £99 million since 2010-11, with council spending in England about 3% lower than it was in 2010.

The growth in demand is in part due to an ageing population, and national charity Age UK estimates that 1.5 million people in England miss out on the help they need.

This issue is compounded by the fact that the social care system faces massive staff shortages. Age UK estimates that there are about 45,000 vacancies across the sector.

The fees that local authorities in England pay for care services can vary widely and people who don’t qualify for free care are often charged much more, with no current cap on costs.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) have previously called for long-term fundamental changes to the funding of adult social care.

They say:

“Social care needs fixing. Care staff shortages, acute staff retention challenges, a low remunerated workforce, an avalanche of need rising from the pandemic – these underlying issues will only be addressed with a clear Government long-term plan to reform social care, one that gives local authorities sustainable funding, direction and capacity to truly transform lives.”

It’s clear that changes are needed, but former Labour Health Secretary and current Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, believes that the proposed rise in NI is “unfair” and has suggested that ministers should ask all pensioners to make a contribution of 10% of their estate. This would then, he suggests, be topped up by a rise in other taxes, such as capital gains tax.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that they should look “to introduce the NHS principle to social care – everyone would be required to contribute, but everyone would benefit.”

Social care solutions vary across UK

The social care system is devolved across the four UK nations, so separate solutions can be developed by each government.

While in England social care is generally not free and there is no overall limit on costs, things vary across the UK.

In Scotland, personal care is free for those assessed by their local authority as requiring this support. Those living in a care home, however, do still have to contribute towards accommodation costs.

In Wales, some care costs are capped, while home care is free for those aged over 75 in Northern Ireland.

Training and support for social care system

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider.

FRT offer social care training and support

They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social organisations, such as Infection Control and PreventionSafeguarding AdultsDuty of CareEquality, Diversity and InclusionUnderstanding Mental Health and many others.

First Response Training are a Skills for Care Endorsed Learning Provider for the delivery of classroom, e-learning and webinar training to the social care workforce.

As an Endorsed Provider, FRT have also recently been awarded grant funding to provide free Covid-19 Essential Training for adult social care workers, including Rapid Induction training for new starters.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“Adult social care providers and workers do an incredibly important job, and it is essential that they are properly funded and paid so that everyone who requires care and support can access services that are safe, compassionate, person-centred and dignified.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Construction firm fined after worker suffers life changing injuries

A construction company has been fined £34,000 after a worker suffered life-changing injuries in an avoidable incident that “could have easily resulted in a fatality.”

Hovington Limited, based in Rochdale, appeared at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court after being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in relation to the incident, which occurred on 4th February 2019.

The court heard how the company had failed to implement suitable control measures or safe working practices.

At the time of the incident, groundworkers, including the injured person, were working to break out ground using a 13-tonne 360 excavator with a hydraulic breaker attached to an automatic quick hitch. The task was part of trench work to install new drainage at the site of Arconic Forging and Extrusions in Rotherham.

Things went wrong when the breaker became detached from the quick hitch on the excavator and fell, narrowly missing one ground worker and landing on the injured worker’s right foot.

As stated by the burn accident attorney, he sustained injuries which meant that doctors were forced to amputate his right leg below the knee.

A subsequent investigation by the HSE found that Hovington Limited had failed to ensure that a safe method of work had been implemented when working in the vicinity of an excavator. They also found that there was no defined segregation between people and plant and no use of a vehicle plant marshal to ensure that the machine was isolated before pedestrians entered the working zone of the excavator.

In addition, the company had failed to implement a dedicated bucket changing area for the changing of attachments in order to minimise the risk of any attachments falling onto pedestrians. Fully-Verfied will make sure that all these files will be safe in their hands.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. In addition to their £34,000 fine they were ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,935.84.

Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Trisha Elvy said:

“This incident could have easily resulted in a fatality and could have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“There should be suitable, defined safe systems of work so that persons who need to work in close proximity to excavators can do so safely.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Health and Safety, Risk Assessment, Accident and Incident Investigation and Managing and Supervising Safety.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“It’s crucial that all business owners and managers understand their responsibilities under law with regards to health and safety and that they have appropriate control measures in place to minimise risks and keep people safe. This includes appropriate health and safety training for staff.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

What we need to know about Covid-19 transmission as the UK unlocks

Now that the majority of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions have been removed in England, and with other UK nations also easing controls, the PROTECT COVID-19 National Core Study offers some key points to keep in mind.

The PROTECT COVID-19 National Core Study on transmission and environment is a UK-wide research programme designed to improve our understanding of how Covid-19 is transmitted from person-to-person.

The study is examining how transmission of the virus varies in different settings and environments in order to enable more effective measures to be introduced to prevent transmission, with the aim of saving lives and helping us move back to a ‘normal’ life.

Led by the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Andrew Curran, the study involves more than 70 researchers from 16 institutions across the UK.

It commenced in October 2020 as part of the Covid-19 National Core Studies programme, which was established by the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance. Funded by the treasury, it is due to run until March 2022.

The key points we all need to remember

Now, a one-page briefing document has been published to outline the key points we all need to know about transmission of virus, based on evidence from the study.

It is hoped that this knowledge can be utilised by policymakers, businesses and individuals to help them manage the associated risks from coronavirus and reduce transmission.

The document outlines three key things to remember about Covid-19 virus transmission:

  1. Transmission is a continuous risk. Covid-19 transmission can occur in any of the environments that we populate and pass through during the day, including the workplace. Outbreak investigations conducted as part of the PROTECT study have shown that effective risk management should focus on small spaces such as canteens, changing areas and meeting rooms as well as the spaces that people inhabit for the majority of their working day, such as office spaces or factory floors. Work-associated transmission can also occur when commuting or socialising with colleagues.
  2. There are three main routes of transmission and all must be addressed for effective risk management. This means that, in every setting and during every activity, measures should be in place to reduce transmission via surfaces, directly from person-to-person via inhaled particles, and through the air in a shared room. Lab-based experiments, computer modelling and human volunteer studies have demonstrated that face coverings can be effective in reducing all three routes of transmission, as long as they are worn correctly and by the majority of people. Perspex screens can also be effective in blocking larger particles at close range but should not be relied upon to prevent airborne transmission. In fact, airborne transmission is the most difficult to control and improving ventilation is key to this.
  3. Control measures are more effective if introduced pre-emptively. Agent-based modelling has demonstrated that measures can limit transmission when introduced early but are much less effective if an outbreak is already underway. This means that organisations should implement good baseline measures from the start if they are to effectively manage transmission risks in the workplace. Such measures include social distancing, ventilation, testing and isolation. The PROTECT study is working to develop evidence on the most effective combination of measures and the optimum time of intervention within different environments and situations.

The one-page briefing document can be viewed and downloaded online.

Further training and support

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

sanitisation remains crucialTheir diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing and Supervising SafetyManaging Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“We’re at a really key point in the pandemic and it is important to remember that, while restrictions have mainly been removed, Covid-19 is still present in society and still poses a risk. Responsible businesses will maintain control measures to keep workers, clients and the general public safe and these three key points will help them determine how to do this most effectively.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

IOSH urges caution as people return to workplaces

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has urged caution over the gradual return of staff to workplaces.

Speaking after the government confirmed that England would move to the final stage of its gradual easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures, IOSH’s Head of Advice and Practice, Duncan Spencer, warned: “Covid-19 still poses a significant threat, so we urge businesses to ensure they continue to do all they can to protect staff from contracting it.”

Ensure a healthy and safe return to work

As the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, spoke out to encourage workers to head back into the office and other workplaces, IOSH advised that businesses be guided by health and safety professionals.

Mr Smith said that risk assessments formed the “starting point” for a safe return to workplaces, “as they can help to identify proportionate controls to protect workers, clients, consumers and communities.”

Advocating continued caution, he added:

“With Covid risks, this might include a reasonable request for people to continue wearing face masks and observe social distancing measures.

“Employers might wish to emulate other socially conscious organisations by asking workers to test themselves regularly, including supplying them with lateral flow test kits.

“It is crucial that any preventative measures are communicated clearly, thereby empowering people to work safely while this disease remains a significant threat.”

Maintain control measures

The (HSE) has issued advice about workplace controls that businesses should maintain despite the removal of lockdown restrictions and social distancing guidance.

Britain’s health and safety watchdog says that organisations must still control the risks of Covid-19 transmission and should continue to review and update their risk assessment.

The following workplace control measures also remain unchanged:

Employers are also advised that communicating with workers and representatives about health and safety matters helps to reduce risks.

The HSE continues to conduct Covid-19 spot checks and inspections to ensure that businesses across the country are managing the risks.

Consider mental health and wellbeing

As a recent survey suggested that 40% of workers feel less resilient now than they did before the pandemic, and that over half feel under pressure to mask mental health challenges as they return to the workplace, transmission of Covid-19 is not the only risk that employers need to manage.

Indeed, Duncan Smith at IOSH agreed that “employers also need to consider the impact of returning to work on people’s mental health and wellbeing, with the possibility that staff may be deeply concerned about returning.”

He added:

“We advocate that open and non-stigmatised conversations are proactively arranged by line managers as part of a strong overall mental health and wellbeing strategy.

“Organisations need to be safe from Covid and safe from the mental health consequences of this pandemic and the impact it has on people’s lives.”

Further training and support for the workplace

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing and Supervising SafetyManaging Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“Businesses must ensure they conduct a thorough Covid-19 risk assessment and have effective measures in place for cleaning, hygiene and handwashing, ventilation and protecting vulnerable workers. Continuing measures such as social distancing, working from home and wearing face coverings should also be considered where appropriate.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Self-isolation exemption for care staff poses ‘significant risks’

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has warned that a new exemption from self-isolation rules for double-jabbed care staff poses “very significant risks.”

In a press release, the directors’ body said the policy shift, which means that frontline adult social care staff who have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine are not required to self-isolate after contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case, could bring further harm to those using services.

Changes to self-isolation guidance

The changes, which came into effect last month, mean that fully vaccinated care workers whose absence could cause significant risks to the health or safety of service users can continue to work even after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace or advised to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app.

Such workers can only ignore self-isolation guidance if they have no Covid symptoms and have received a negative PCR test. They must also have daily negative lateral flow tests for the required self-isolation period.

Staff must also comply with all relevant infection control procedures and should not work with clinically extremely vulnerable people.

The organisation’s management should also ensure that a risk assessment is carried out and authorisation must be granted by its lead professional for health protection or the relevant director of public health.

If, at any point, the staff member receives a positive test or starts to experience symptoms of Covid-19, they must stop working and self-isolate fully.

Temporary measure to alleviate pressures in care

The government introduced the change in guidelines as a temporary measure before the introduction of a general exemption from self-isolation rules for all fully vaccinated contacts from 16th August. It has been brought in to relieve pressure on care services that were dealing with high levels of self-isolation as a result of rising infection rates.

However, ADASS has said that, while it supports measures to alleviate the immense pressures placed on care staff, it had “concerns that this announcement presents very significant risks,” during a period of high and rising community transmission rates.

The association pointed out that social care staff “work with people who are the most vulnerable to Covid: older, disabled and mentally unwell people, among others.”

They added:

“These are the very people, alongside care (and NHS) staff who have suffered most through the pandemic. Our priority must be to absolutely minimise further harm.

“Our concerns are magnified by the fact that there has been an immediate change in policy with no prior warning, guidance and information about the change and how this can be introduced safely. The policy is intended to be applied on a case-by-case basis, and with a full risk assessment, but the absence of information and guidance raises the risk of blanket applications.”

Calls for urgent guidance and funding

ADASS have called for urgent guidance and funding to support the new policy, while public service union UNISON raised concerns that some “reckless employers” may pressure staff who have had contact with a confirmed Covid case to return to work when it is not appropriate for them to do so.

Christine, McAnea, General Secretary, explained: “If care workers who’ve been in contact with someone with the virus are pushed back to work without proper safeguards in place, the consequences could be dreadful.

“Everything possible must be done to ensure staff in hospitals and care homes don’t bring in the virus or take it home. That includes making sure they are fully paid when sick or isolating.”

ADASS also reiterated their call for urgent, long-term, fundamental changes to the funding of adult social care:

“Social care needs fixing. Care staff shortages, acute staff retention challenges, a low remunerated workforce, an avalanche of need rising from the pandemic – these underlying issues will only be addressed with a clear Government long-term plan to reform social care, one that gives local authorities sustainable funding, direction and capacity to truly transform lives.”

Further support and training

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider.

They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Care workers have taken risks during the pandemicTheir diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social organisations, such as Infection Control and PreventionSafeguarding AdultsDuty of CareEquality, Diversity and InclusionUnderstanding Mental Health and many others.

First Response Training are a Skills for Care Endorsed Learning Provider for the delivery of classroom, e-learning and webinar training to the social care workforce.

As an Endorsed Provider, FRT have also recently been awarded grant funding to provide free Covid-19 Essential Training for adult social care workers, including Rapid Induction training for new starters.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a massive toll on health and social care workers and those who receive care and support services; they have been through so much and are still under tremendous pressure.

“Safe and sensible measures to help relieve this pressure and ensure everyone can receive the highest quality care and support are always welcomed, but it is important that the correct information, guidance and training is in place to safeguard health, safety and wellbeing at all times.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Workers feel under pressure to hide mental health struggles

A survey has found that many UK workers feel under pressure to hide their mental health struggles and “put on a brave face” at work as the government encourages them to head back to the office.

The survey of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by online healthcare provider Lime Insurance, found that just over half (51%) of respondents felt under pressure to disguise any mental health concerns from their colleagues.

Meanwhile, 4 in 10 said they felt less resilient than they did before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and just over a quarter (26%) said they did not feel as though they were coping at work.

‘Pleasanteeism’ undermines resilience

The research reveals that almost a fifth of workers (19%) are concerned about their stress and difficulty in coping being visible to others as they return to work.

Despite these fears, many feel they are not able to mask their stress and anxiety very well, with nearly 1 in 5 respondents admitting that they believe their colleagues are aware that they are hiding deeper issues.

Lime has coined the term “pleasanteeism” to describe how workers are putting on a brave face and presenting the very best versions of themselves in the workplace.

This pressure to keep up appearances is undermining efforts to create an open culture and dialogue concerning mental health at work, eroding resilience and impacting productivity, with Lime describing it as a “plague” on UK businesses.

While trying to mask their mental health challenges, 44% of workers said they felt that low personal resilience impacts their ability to do their job effectively and many admitted that stress and poor mental health has caused them to have an unproductive day (28%), lose concentration or make a mistake at work (17%), forget an important task (17%) or call in sick (9%).

The study from Lime concludes that:

“Businesses are sleepwalking into a mental health crisis.”

Workers encouraged to head back to the office

The stress of the commute can lead our buckets to overflowIt comes as the government encourages people to stop working from home and gradually return to workplaces, with chancellor Rishi Sunak suggesting this was particularly important for younger workers.

He told LinkedIn News: “I doubt I would have had those strong relationships if I was doing my summer internship or my first bit of my career over Teams and Zoom.

“That’s why I think, for young people in particular, being able to physically be in an office is valuable.”

The recent survey results, however, indicate that young people are particularly likely to be experiencing mental health concerns.

The researchers found that 43% of women aged 16-24 and almost half (49%) of men aged 16-24 feel less resilient now than they did before the pandemic.

They also noted that women feel they are under more pressure than their male colleagues to hide any mental health struggles from employers and colleagues, with younger women feeling the pressure the most.

Employers need to do more

Less than 1 in 6 respondents (16%) said they felt their mental health was “very well supported” in the workplace, while over a third (36%) said they did not feel as though their employers offered them enough support generally.

This is despite the fact that the vast majority of workers (81%) want their employers to give them help with their mental wellbeing. Now, the research suggests, 4 in 10 workers are prepared to look for a new job if their employer does not do more.

When asked how employers could help support their mental health and wellbeing, respondents suggested the following measures:

  • Focusing on workload and work/life balance (25%)
  • Allowing greater flexibility in working hours (22%)
  • Enabling workers time out for personal commitments (20%)
  • Offering mental health days off work (20%)

The Head of Workplace Wellbeing at national mental health charity Mind, Emma Mamo, said there was no “one size fits all” approach to creating an open culture of mental health in the workplace, but that “regularly communicating and providing opportunities for staff to talk about any issues they’re facing,” are vital steps for employers to take.

She also advises employers to conduct staff surveys to understand the causes and triggers for poor mental health at work so they can implement measures to mitigate these.

Mind asserts that “a culture of fear and silence around mental health is costly to employers”, and provides free resources to help improve mental wellbeing and employee engagement.

The full report from Lime can be viewed and downloaded online.

Further mental health support and training

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider delivering a wide and diverse range of training courses.

They can provide training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, safeguarding, mental health, health and social care and other specialist subjects.

Their specialist mental health training range includes Understanding Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness in the WorkplaceManaging Stress in the WorkplaceAnxiety AwarenessSelf-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide externally accredited trainers to deliver Mental Health First Aid England training courses, including Adult, Youth, Champion and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says:

“As we hopefully continue to recover from the pandemic and return to some sort of normal, mental health and wellbeing needs to be high on the agenda for everyone.

“The government has promised to improve mental health support as part of their efforts to ‘build back better’ after the pandemic, but employers also need to look at what they can do to promote and support positive mental health and wellbeing among their employees

“As with most things, prevention is better than cure and it’s important that we really shift from a reactive approach when it comes to protecting our mental health.

“Training can really help with this; our mental health training courses include content on supporting your mental health at all times, and building emotional resilience.”

For more information about the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Skills for Care launch new strategy for ‘widescale change’

Skills for Care have launched their new three-year strategy today (Wednesday 4th August 2021), which sets out their future direction as they support the social care sector to “drive forward widescale change,” and establish a national career pathway.

The independent workforce development charity has developed the new strategy to help it work towards its vision of supporting all those who work in social care roles “to create a fair and just society where people can access the advice, care and support they need to live the lives they want.”

They will continue to work with social care leaders and employers, the government and partners across the social care system to meet the needs of the sector.

In a press release, Skills for Care said they use data and evidence “to drive forward widescale change” and provide best practice guidance, tools, resources and intelligence to support workforce recruitment, training and culture now, and in the future.

Four areas of strategic focus in an ageing society

Their new strategy focusses on four strategic areas for investment and growth over the next three years. These are:

  1. Increasing workforce capacity to ensure the right number of people, with the right values and behaviours, are working in the sector
  2. Supporting workforce capabilities to ensure staff have the right skills, knowledge, competencies, values and behaviours to meet current and future needs
  3. Supporting culture and diversity to ensure everyone across the workforce is treated equally, feels included and valued and is supported to stay well and pursue their careers in social care
  4. Improving the social care system to ensure its adequately funded, supports people to live the lives they choose and attracts the right people to the workforce

The strategy has been developed firmly within the context of an ageing society.

Skills for Care say they recognise that the way social care is delivered needs to change and adapt to support people who are living longer, often with more complex needs, and who have different expectations about how and where their care should be delivered.

They say its vital that the social care workforce is populated by the right people, with the right skills and behaviours, to ensure that people receive the highest quality care and support, in the way they want it and at the time when they need it.

The aim is that people are supported, wherever possible, to live independently, in their own communities, with the people they love.

Building workforce capability

In relation to building workforce capability, the strategy outlines four key ways in which Skills for Care will support this mission:

  • They will support the creation of a nationally agreed and consistent career pathway for social care, including learning and development requirements for each role, that employers understand and use to develop staff appropriately
  • They will use their knowledge of current and future skills needs to shape and define learning and development for the future
  • They will work with employers, leaders and managers to ensure they understand the importance of investing in learning and development, including new technologies, and have access to the tools they need to deliver high quality training. They will support employers to upskill staff and look to remove barriers to the use of technology
  • They will work with their Endorsed Learning Providers to ensure that the sector can access high quality learning and development

Oonagh Smith, CEO at Skills for Care, said they were “delighted” to launch the new strategy and “excited about the impact it will have on people drawing on care and support and working in social care over the next three years.”

She added:

“This new strategy was created in recognition that the way social care is delivered in England is changing so it won’t be a static strategy but will evolve based on feedback and changes in social care.

“Skills for Care believes that social care needs to adapt to these changes so that everyone has access to care and support that is focused on their unique needs and aspirations, now, and in the years to come.

“Equally, people who work in social care have to be recognised as carrying out a vital role in society. We want social care to be seen by the public as a professional and skilled career that has real value for people in our communities who draw on services, supported by our committed and skilled workforce.”

Skills for Care’s new three-year strategy can be viewed online.

The strategy can be downloaded in full, and Skills for Care are also encouraging people to provide their feedback, with survey responses used to inform the next stage of their strategy delivery.

Further support and training for social care

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider.

They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social organisations, such as Infection Control and PreventionSafeguarding AdultsDuty of CareEquality, Diversity and InclusionUnderstanding Mental Health and many others.

First Response Training are a Skills for Care Endorsed Learning Provider for the delivery of classroom, e-learning and webinar training to the social care workforce.

As an Endorsed Provider, FRT have also recently been awarded grant funding to provide free Covid-19 Essential Training for adult social care workers, including Rapid Induction training for new starters.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“We are very proud to be a Skills for Care Endorsed Learning Provider and to work with them to provide essential training for workers in the social care sector.

“This new strategy is a really positive step in ensuring that the social care sector can continually meet every individual’s care and support needs safely, compassionately and with dignity while also looking after the health and wellbeing of staff.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

CQC publishes data showing Covid-19 death notifications

The Care Quality Commission has praised the efforts of care staff during the pandemic as it published data showing death notifications involving Covid-19 received from individual care homes over the past 12 months.

CQC publishes data showing Covid-19 death notificationsThe CQC’s latest Insight Report has also drawn on this data to establish key points and provides crucial context to help understand what the data means.

The data, featuring notifications received between 10th April 2020 and 31st March 2021 from care homes across all regions, shows that Covid-19 has contributed to a significant increase in the number of deaths in nursing and residential care settings.

Death notifications do not equal poor care

England’s care watchdog was quick to point out, however, that death notifications “do not in themselves indicate poor quality care.”

Covid-19 death notifications from individual care homes are reviewedIn fact, in a press release accompanying the publication of the data, they emphasised that, across all types of care settings, “staff have gone to great lengths to try to contain the effects of this virus, as our report published today on infection prevention and control in hospitals shows.”

They explained that many factors, including the rate of transmission in the local community, the size of the care home and the age, health and care needs of residents can all potentially influence the number of deaths.

Many of the notifications also relate to the deaths of care home residents which occurred when they were receiving care in other settings, meaning the death notification does not necessarily indicate that Covid-19 was present in the care home.

Data used in inspection decisions

The figures have been presented alongside government data on all Covid-19 deaths. This is because care homes form part of the local community and so are impacted when Covid-19 is prevalent in the area.

Data on Covid-19 death notifications is available onlineDeaths are counted as involving Covid-19 based on the statement made by the care home provider. This may or may not correspond to an official medical diagnosis or test result and may or may not be reflected on the death certificate.

The CQC has used information from individual care homes about deaths involving Covid-19 alongside other information to make decisions about where to inspect.

The watchdog conducted 5,577 inspections of residential adult social care providers during the period the data covers. These included wider ongoing monitoring of adult social care services and specific infection prevention control inspections, which focused on eight key criteria to ensure services had an effective approach.

These inspections looked at whether staff had been properly trained to deal with outbreaks and whether there was adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available for both staff and residents.

While enforcement action had to be taken in a small number of cases, CQC inspectors found “generally high levels of assurance.”

A duty to be transparent

Commenting on the publication of the data on death notifications, the Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care at the CQC, Kate Terroni, explained:

“In considering this data it is important to remember that every number represents a life lost – and families, friends and those who cared for them who are having to face the sadness and consequences of their death.

“We are grateful for the time that families who lost their loved ones during the pandemic have spent meeting with us and the personal experiences they have shared. These discussions have helped us shape our thinking around the highly sensitive issue of publishing information on the numbers of death notifications involving Covid-19 received from individual care homes.”

She said that, as an independent regulator, the CQC has “a duty to be transparent and to act in the public interest” and that this has dictated their decision to publish the data.

“In doing so, we aim to provide a more comprehensive picture of the impact of Covid-19 on care homes, the people living in them and their families,” she added.

“It is important to be clear, however, that although this data relates to deaths of people who were care home residents, many of them did not die in or contract Covid-19 in a care home.”

“As we publish this data, we ask for consideration and respect to be shown to people living in care homes, to families who have been affected, and to the staff who have done everything they could, in incredibly difficult circumstances, to look after those in their care.”

The data can be viewed on an online dashboard.

Further support and training for care settings

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and more.

Their health and social care range includes Infection Control and Prevention, Handling and Recording Information, Dignity in CareDuty of CareSafeguarding Adults and many more.

They can also provide an e-learning course in COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

As a Skills for Care Endorsed Provider, FRT have also recently been awarded grant funding to provide free Covid-19 Essential Training for adult social care workers, including Rapid Induction training for new starters.

A trainer from FRT says: “The adult social care workforce is full of dedicated, compassionate workers who do their best for the people they support each and every day.

“The past year has been incredibly challenging across the sector, and it’s important to understand the full impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on adult social care services and the people receiving care and support from them, while remembering the wider context and local community picture.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

CQC focuses on learning disability care during the pandemic

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has released its latest insight report, which focuses on care provided for people with a learning disability during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ahead of the publication of their provider collaboration review (PCR) on people with a learning disability living in the community this month (July 2021), England’s care watchdog has looked at how services have worked together to meet people’s needs over the past year.

It follows concerns previously highlighted by the CQC about the care and treatment of people with a learning disability and people with autism.

The regulator says that the pandemic has “served to shine a light on some of these pre-existing challenges, gaps and poor-quality care.”

The right care at the right time

Introducing their latest insight report, the CQC explains:

“Support and services for people with a learning disability are often not good enough. For too long, people and their families have face significant and ongoing challenges in getting care at the right time that meets their individual needs.

“We have seen how this can lead to people staying for long periods in appropriate environments, being cared for by people who do not know them and who do not have the skills or knowledge to support them well.”

As part of their forthcoming PCR, the CQC have examined these issues and the impact they have had on people who use services, providers and stakeholders.

The 11th insight report from the watchdog outlines some key approaches to care delivery which can help ensure people receive the care and support they need, which enables them to lead fulfilling lives. These include:

  • Ensuring people are given choice, control and independence. This can include supporting them to live independently or to be cared for in the community close to their friends, family or support networks and ensuring they are not left isolated in hospital settings far from home.
  • Providing access to the right care and support at the right time. This includes providing access to suitable health care and support services, including in emergency and crisis situations.
  • Ensuring collaboration between services and with the person receiving care and their families. This includes sharing information when appropriate about the person, such as their likes, dislikes, interests and preferences, as well as information about their health and wellbeing.

Concerns remain

The CQC remains concerned about the lack of joint working and collaboration between services and how well they have shared information to ensure people receive the right care at the right time.

Particular issues have also been noted with transitioning people from children to adult services and the fact that people can often end up in inappropriate settings when things go wrong.

During the pandemic, people with a learning disability – who already have an increased risk of respiratory illnesses – have also been more vulnerable to Covid-19.

There has been an increase in deaths among people using services who have a learning disability.

While examining the problems faced accessing appropriate care and treatment for people with a learning disability during the Covid-19 pandemic, the CQC is also seeking to highlight examples of good practice where joint working has made a positive difference and improved outcomes for people.

Improving regulation of learning disability care

The insight report presents three areas of focus to improve the CQC’s regulation of services for people with a learning disability and people with autism:

  • Registering the right services – enabling people to use services that will support them with where and how they want to live.
  • Supporting providers to improve – ensuring that people are not moved in to services that are not safe or do not meet their needs.
  • Influencing the improvement of care pathways and ensuring that people are receiving the right care at the right time – accessing local services that meet people’s needs and ensuring they get the right healthcare when needed.

Training and support

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and more.

Their health and social care range includes Learning Disability Awareness, Introduction to the Autistic Spectrum, Person Centred Care, Dignity in Care, Duty of Care, Safeguarding Adults and many more.

A trainer from FRT says: “The adult social care workforce is full of dedicated, compassionate workers who do their best for the people they support each and every day.

“However, the system is under significant pressure and it is very important that lessons are learned and improvements made to ensure that all individuals receive the person-centred, compassionate and dignified care that they deserve.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.