Almost £400m in funding to help adult social care sector ahead of winter
The UK Government has confirmed additional funding for infection prevention and control to help the adult social care sector deal with winter pressures, COVID-19 and flu.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has announced a £388.3 million investment to prevent the spread of infection in social care settings, including £25 million to support care workers to access COVID-19 and flu vaccines over the winter months. This will ensure social care staff who need to travel to receive their COVID-19 or flu vaccinations are paid their usual wages to do so and can be supported with travel costs.
To boost flu vaccine uptake among social care staff, GP practices will be able to vaccinate care home staff that are not registered at their practice. Uptake will be regularly monitored by region to allow a targeted approach, and more flu vaccines will be available later in 2021.
Sajid Javid said: “Protecting care home staff and residents has been a priority throughout the pandemic and as we move into winter I am committed to ensuring they have the resources they need.
“This additional funding demonstrates how we will continue to support those delivering and receiving care.
“Everyone deserves to be cared for with dignity and respect and our wider reforms will continue to work towards our aim of a world-leading social care system.”
Continued funding to prevent infection spreading and provide testing will be delivered through the Infection Control and Testing Fund. The latest funding boost includes £237 million for infection control measures and £126.3 million for testing costs. This will allow testing to continue for staff, residents and visitors to ensure residents can see their loved ones as safely as possible.
Infection prevention and control measures to protect residents and staff include: continuing to provide free personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against COVID-19 to the adult social care sector until the end of March 2022; regular COVID-19 testing; and supporting care providers to make best use of technology to help remote monitoring.
As part of supporting good quality discharge, the government will also extend the use of designated settings for people discharged from hospital to a care home with a positive COVID-19 test.
From 11 November 2021, any staff or visiting professionals entering a care home will need to provide evidence of their COVID-19 vaccination or exemption status.
This decision for mandatory jabs for professionals entering care homes from 11 November onwards followed a five-week consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) earlier this year.
At the time, Sarah Lepak, Head of Policy & Compliance at the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA), said this decision was “perhaps questionable”. She warned that this decision would have ramifications for employers and employees alike, especially as vaccine uptake is high among residents.