Time for social care to stand on its feet

Care home deaths covid

The whole situation of Covid emerged at a rapid speed. By the middle of Jan 2020, we already knew the Covid is going to be a deadly infection for older people. More than 450000 people live in 20,000 plus care homes. National Care Forum brought out the shocking statistics of deaths in care homes of more than 4000 in two weeks in April. 

PHE guidelines 

The NHS received all the attention from the start, which is not wrong. Yes, we need to be prepared for a hike in ITU bed usage. But the idea of suggesting care homes take positive Covid patients was absurd. It has resulted in the introduction of Covid to many care homes and resulted in so many deaths. PHE guidelines have failed to protect so many older people. We would recommend care homes to go over and beyond the guidance to protect their staff and residents. 

PPE issue

It is no doubt that Covid is a deadly infection. Care homes have no expertise in managing a fatal virus. Ideally, under normal circumstances, these patients will be transferred to the hospital to get treated. Several promises were made to make PPE available for care workers. The government even discussed the possibility of introducing Clipper to arrange the logistics. But nothing happened. The large pot of money was transferred to local authorities. Only very few local authorities took the leadership to make it available to the front line. The care homes who didn't rely on any authorities for help are less affected with Covid.  

End of Life

Everyone deserves to have an extra day in their life if they wish to have. But the fundamental freedom to live was not respected when the blanket rule was made to put all the elderly on EOL if affected with Covid. Care homes had to fight with Paramedics and GPs to make decisions to transfer people to the hospital at least to attempt to save their life. The reality is many hospitals in non-affected areas are empty while people are dying in care homes. 

Testing

Swab testing is a joke. There is only 50% reliability on swab testing. Getting the residents and staff to get tested in social care is still not adequate. Results are getting delayed, or sometimes care homes cannot even access it. We would recommend care homes to take aggressive precautions on identifying and containing the first symptoms. Do not waste time on obtaining the testing. 

Way forward 

Covid is not going to go away in a few weeks. It is going to be a marathon. The tagline from the beginning was to save our NHS. We genuinely respect our colleagues in the NHS for doing such fantastic work. Our deepest sympathies to all the heroes who lost their lives in this battle. 

It is time for system change in how social care operates in the whole system. It is time for social care to stand on its own feet, not under the rule of NHS or Local authorities. The traditional belief system made us not to question the wrong guidelines. We were not doing that for such a long time. We were forced to accept what was written for us so far. It is time for us to write our own stories.