Coronavirus tests for all care home staff and residents in England by early June
The Health Secretary has revealed that all care home residents and staff in England will be tested for coronavirus by early June as he outlined plans to a provide £600 million funding boost for the social care sector.
Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing on Friday, Matt Hancock also explained that the NHS would be appointing a clinical lead for every home in England to support them through the fight against the spread of the virus.
“This is the most intense support and scrutiny that care homes have ever received,” he said.
Mr Hancock said that local councils will also be required to conduct daily reviews of the situation on the ground in care homes in their area.
“These reviews ensure that every care home gets the support they need every single day,” he said.
A £600 million “Infection Control Fund” has been launched to support efforts to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in care homes.
The ring-fenced social care funding from the Government also aims to support homes’ additional staffing costs during the coronavirus crisis.
The scheme will cover frontline staff in England, with funding provided to local authorities according to the number of care home beds in each area.
Funding will also be provided to devolved administrations, with the Scottish Government receiving £58 million, the Welsh Government £35 million and the Northern Ireland Executive £20 million.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that under a package of measures, care homes will be asked to restrict permanent and agency staff to working in only one care home where possible.
The new funding could be used to meet any additional costs triggered by this approach, as well as to pay the wages of staff that are self-isolating.
Local authorities must now conduct a daily review of care homes in their area to ensure they have enough support in terms of staffing and access to personal protective equipment (PPE).
Each home will have a named clinical contact who will provide advice and support to staff through weekly check-ins.
A mental health and wellbeing package for social care staff is also being rolled out through the new CARE app, alongside two new helplines led by the Samaritans and Hospice UK.
The Government said the new funding is in addition to £3.2 billion of financial support made available to local authorities to support public services since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
The new funding will be paid in two equal instalments to local authorities, which will be asked that 75% of the initial money received is passed straight to care homes for infection control measures on a per bed basis.
The remaining 25% must also be used for infection control, but local councils will be able to allocate it based on need.