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Care Home Costs Could Go ‘Through The Roof’

Published on: 13 May, 2020
Updated on: 15 May, 2020

by Hugh Coakley

A Surrey care home association chairman is warning of the implications of wide-scale testing for care home residents and staff and of a huge hike in care home costs.

See also: Lack of virus testing for those with no symptoms will cost lives says care homes chief

David Holmes, chairman of Surrey Care Association said he was concerned about the “financial viability for older people’s care homes moving forward as vacancy rates and costs both go through the roof” as well as the need for 350,000 tests a day to cater for the 1.6 million social care staff alone, across the country.

The current Covid-19 testing rules are that all care home residents and staff should have been able to access tests from April 29, regardless of whether they have symptoms. Additionally, people over 65 and those who must leave home to work, as well as those they live with, will be able to get tested if they have symptoms of Covid-19.

I asked Mr Homes the following questions shown with his responses:

What is the position now on testing? Are your staff being tested as needed?

“Testing has now been rolled out to all care and support staff, whether they have symptoms or not. This is great development, since testing brings our invisible Covid foe out into the open.

“The processes, however, have been erratic. Some have reported that the process has gone well, but other have reported problems with booking tests and delays in getting results, over a week in some cases.

David Holmes, chairman of Surrey Care Association

“Moving forward, testing will be a big part of the solution for social care, but there is a capacity problem. There are 1.6m working in social care, and if we want them all to be tested every week, then we need around 350,000 tests per day just for social care staff. We are nowhere near this.

“We also need testing for the people we support. The government and local authorities are working on a mobile testing solution here, whereby mobile units will go out to care locations and test en-masse. This is being trialled this week.”

We now have a Covid testing centre in the Onslow Park & Ride in Guildford. How is that working out?

“My only insight is from Simon Whalley [vice-chair of the Surrey Care Association] who reported that his test went smoothly and that he received his results within 24 hours.”

Do you have statistics on care home deaths from coronavirus in Surrey and in Guildford? Are the government or the CQC now collating statistics on care home deaths from coronavirus?

“The government is now collating deaths from all locations, which is what led to the leap in overall numbers.

“As I understand it, though, care home deaths are being collated from the Office for National Statistics on numbers based on death certificates, so there will still be a delay.

“I am not aware of any specific numbers for Surrey, but one would think these could be extracted from the government statistics.”

You were just about managing on PPE [personal protection equipment] I recall. Is the position improved?

“The PPE cell of the Local Resilience Forum has secured emergency supplies which have helped many Surrey Providers. This has been a positive development.

“However, the overall picture is challenging. Use of PPE has ramped up as we have moved to the ‘Sustained transmission’ phase, and there is greater competition for PPE with other sectors as they return to work. Supply remains a real concern.

“It should also be noted that the prices being paid by providers are sky-high. As an example, Type IIR surgical masks, which used to cost a few pence, now cost around a pound.”

You wrote to the SoS Matt Hancock at the end of April, praising the work being done by social carers and recommending reform in social care. Have you had a response?

“No response, but I have it on good authority that he has seen it. It was also seen by Jeremy Hunt and others.

“Moving forward, I think there are two important issues. Firstly, there is real concern about what happens to social care when lockdown is released, and the lack of the government’s preparedness for this.

“Secondly, there are concerns about financial viability for older people’s care homes moving forward as vacancy rates and costs both go through the roof. There is an imminent threat here.”

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Responses to Care Home Costs Could Go ‘Through The Roof’

  1. Kathleen Parrish Reply

    May 13, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    Personally, I would have no wish to be in a care home or have a carer as my departed brother was always ill when he was a care home resident because the staff brought illnesses in with them.

    Carers too can easily carry infections from one sick person to another. What has also been happening to the abuse in care homes when the relatives have been prevented from visiting? GP’s too do not always visit the elderly in care homes to check on their health and wellbeing.

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