The adult social care sector is set to receive a £269 million funding boost to help protect and support staff and those receiving care.
The funds will be split, with a new £120 million fund to enable local authorities to boost workforce capacity and a £149 million grant system to support lateral flow device testing in the sector.
Announced in December 2020, this grant is designed to increase rapid Covid-19 testing of care staff and facilitate safe care home visits from loved ones, where possible.
It comes as the new, more transmissible coronavirus variant has led to a sharp rise in staff absence rates, as care home and home care staff test positive or are forced to self-isolate due to contact with a confirmed case.
Known as the Workforce Capacity Fund, the £120 million fund for local authorities is being made available to:
- Provide additional care staff where shortages arise
- Provide support for administrative tasks so that experienced and skilled care staff can focus on providing care and support for residents and those receiving care in their own home
- Help existing staff to increase their hours, if they wish, through the provision of overtime payments or by covering childcare costs
Infection prevention and control guidance on staff movement in care homes is also being reinforced, with providers reminded that it is vital that they continue to follow the rules in order to keep staff and residents safe.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the fund would “bolster staffing numbers in a controlled and safe way, whilst ensuring people continue to receive the highest quality of care.”
He spoke of the hope offered by the vaccination programme, and explained:
“Many local authorities across the country already have staffing initiatives in place to increase capacity and address staffing issues. These include care worker staff banks where new recruits are paid during training, re-deployment models where DBS checked staff are trained and moved into operational roles, and end-to-end training and recruitment services.
“The £120 million fund will ensure such initiatives can continue, and help other local authorities implement similar schemes.”
Mr. Hancock added that the £149 million grant would support care providers with the costs associated with “setting up safe testing areas, providing staff training and will contribute towards staff time spent administering and receiving tests.”
Local authorities must pass on 80% of this funding to care homes on a per beds basis, with 20% able to be used at their discretion to support the sector in delivering additional lateral flow device testing.
Minister for Care Helen Whately praised care workers for “doing the most amazing job throughout the pandemic,” adding: “In challenging circumstances, they have been caring for some of the people most at risk from this virus with compassion and skill.”
“Increased staff testing remains a critical part of reducing transmission. Care homes currently have access to 3 tests per week for their staff, with daily testing for 7 days in the event of a positive case to protect staff and residents.
“Care homes will have additional lateral flow devices to test individuals working in more than one setting before the start of every shift.
“Restricting staff movement remains critical to minimising the risk of transmission. In response to the government’s consultation, the sector called for an increase in staffing capacity instead of regulation to achieve this goal.”
Meanwhile, the CEO of Care England, Professor Martin Green, said they were “pleased” the government had listened to the care sector’s “deep concerns about banning staff movement.”
“We want to work with the department to ensure the staff capacity fund delivers to the front line and is suitably flexible to reflect the crisis whereby providers are struggling with staff illness and absenteeism in the same way as their colleagues in the NHS are.
“Staff are our most precious resource and we want to do all that we can to support them, especially in these incredibly difficult times.”
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 Prevention and Control, Health and Safety, Dignity in Care, Duty of Care, Safeguarding Adults and many more.
A trainer from FRT says: “We work closely with many local and national care providers and know that they have been having such an incredibly tough time during the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.
“Those who work in care work incredibly hard to provide person-centred, dignified and compassionate care, even in extremely challenging circumstances.
“It is fantastic news that the sector will receive extra funds to help support and protect these dedicated workers and the people they work to support.”
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 [email protected]