Call to extend testing to social care
Mark Adams, CEO of Community Integrated Care, one of the UK’s biggest and most successful social care charities, says:
“The ability to routinely test colleagues and people supported in care services for Covid-19 is one of the most essential tools for protecting those that deliver and receive care. The social care sector has been championing this loudly throughout this crisis, so we welcome the news that this support is finally being delivered.
We hope that government’s intention to extend this support from care homes for the over 65s to the wider care home population becomes a reality soon. We would also implore the government to continue to build capacity, to move to a position of weekly testing for care home residents.
However, this is not ‘job done’. There are many people working and supported in community care settings, like supported living services or Extra Care services – flats complexes for people with care needs – where the risk of Covid is very real. In these services, we support people who are as old as 102 and individuals who have highly complex health needs, so it is obviously wrong to discriminate against them due to the category of property that they live in.
We also need to recognise the significant resource impact that delivering potentially hundreds of tests every week will have on a care home. Testing needs to be delivered with empathy, patience and care, and comes with significant associated administration. There cannot be an expectation that already overburdened care homes can simply absorb this additional workload. It needs to be met with hands-on support by NHS and public health teams, or by funding care homes to meet the additional time spent supporting testing. Community Integrated Care itself has experienced a £2.2m financial hit to our charity since the outset of this crisis and it is not sustainable to expect us to carry the costs of these additional hours providing testing.
Finally, we should not be under the illusion that today’s announcement is a UK wide solution – it is only being implemented in England. As a provider that also supports thousands in Scotland, and has experienced often even greater testing challenges in our Scottish services, we believe that it is of vital importance that the Scottish Government follows suit.”