Care Home Management guest editorial: the holes in the system made by COVID-19
The kindness and compassion of the UK’s care workers has been making headlines recently, thanks to the thoughtfulness of Thistleton Lodge care worker Kia Tobin. Kia, who is just 17, appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, as well as other media, after presenting 94-year-old recently-bereaved resident Ken Benbow with a cushion personalised with the face of his late wife.
All over the land, care homes have demonstrated in abundance resilience and compassion in their care. In our May issue, Care Home Management will publish a special feature on how care homes are keeping residents stimulated and entertained during the lock down, and the creativity they demonstrate is truly remarkable. I would encourage you to take a look online, at www.chmonline.co.uk.
We’ve also been touched by the many suppliers who have stepped up to offer products and services for free to care staff on the front line. To recognise those efforts we’ve launched a Readers’ Award for Supplier Service, where you can say thanks to these suppliers for yourselves. Just see the advert on our website home page to download your nomination form.
Such moments of kindness and compassion are even more heart-warming when you consider the difficulties and personal sacrifices all care workers are currently making. Keeping residents safe while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to strike has not been without its cost. Kia, for one, has had to leave her family home to live at her care home while the infection risk remains high.
At times of crisis, front line workers look to their bosses, and then to the lawmakers for the solutions they need to deliver care, safely and effectively. For many in the care world, the adult social care COVID-19 plan delivered just that – the tools as well as the money and the recognition via the Care badge that social care needs. However, for those who have, or have seen colleagues pay the highest price for their work without the safety net of vital Personal Protective Equipment, they may rightly see the Government’s actions as too little, too late.
In an online article, Leigh Day human rights solicitor Anna Moore specifically discusses the ramifications for social care of the Coronavirus Act, emergency legislation designed to build resilience and capacity in the system. Amending the Care Act, the Coronavirus Act legislation aims to support local authorities (for one) through the perfect storm of reduced capacity arising from higher demand for services, coupled with higher rates of staff absence. The reasoning is that maintaining ‘business as usual’ may make it impossible for local authorities to continue to deliver or undertake the detailed assessments they would usually provide.
It is an outrage that the same battle-plan thinking was not applied to care homes from the outset. Instead, care homes have been left on their own to deal with the same (if not greater) capacity restraints as their council-based co-workers. In fact, it is arguable that demand on their services has been increased by the fall-out from the changes to the Care Act – less timely assessments and care planning decisions with which to offer care to vulnerable families - at the precise time care managers need swifter and more decisive support than ever.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a large number of holes in the resilience of the health and social care system, and in particular, the lack of truly joined-up care and planning between the two. Care teams should not have to rely on the kindness and compassion of their co-workers, suppliers, families and friends to provide the care that Britain’s most vulnerable people really need.