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Blog 8th April 2020

Apr 8th, 11:15

Blog 8th April 2020

In this blog, I discuss the impact of coronavirus on adult social care services and introduce our latest webinars. I refer to the Guardian; the NHS; the ONS; Public Health England; Methodist Homes (MHA); Boris Johnson; UNISON; the GMB; the LGA; Service Charges; Housing Association Finance; Webinars and Training.

Last week the ‘Guardian’ reported that Britain’s care homes, that house more than 400,000 of Britain’s most elderly and vulnerable people are in danger of being overwhelmed by the coronavirus, with staff warning they are at ‘breaking point’.

Earlier, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) released the first data about suspected or confirmed coronavirus deaths outside hospitals. This suggested that, up to 20th March, a fifth of all confirmed and suspected deaths happened in care homes, hospices, domestic homes and other locations. Until then, little had been known about the death toll of coronavirus in care settings, because daily figures released by Public Health England only relate to National Health Service hospital fatalities.

And Methodist Homes (MHA), the country’s biggest charitable provider that runs more than 220 facilities, revealed that 750 of its staff – more than one in ten – are unable to work; there were confirmed or suspected cases in more than half of its facilities; and that confirmed deaths from the disease are increasing. Sam Monaghan, the Chief Executive of MHA told the ‘Guardian’ that:

“The adult social care sector must not be treated as the poor relation of the NHS… Our people are also working day and night with those who are most vulnerable to coronavirus and we are yet to be included in the testing that is being rolled out for the NHS… This and (personal protective equipment) needs addressing urgently so we can keep our staff and those we care for safe. We are anxious that we may see an increase in staff expressing concern about coming into work without being supplied with adequate equipment.”

coronavirus

Coronavirus

On 25th March, Boris Johnson stated that enough personal protective equipment would arrive with care workers by 27th March. However, Methodist Homes reported on 31st March that its staff were regularly using up their week’s supply of face masks from the government in a single day, and that nine of their homes have dangerously low amounts of kit. A survey of ten care homes in Barking on 30th March also found that eight were struggling with shortages – especially goggles.

Unison, a union that represents many care workers, has called on the government to intervene and end severe shortages of personal protective equipment in the care sector. Dave Prentis, the General Secretary of Unison, has written to Boris Johnson to say that public workers lacking personal protective equipment:

“Feel like they’ve been forgotten – their safety a mere afterthought, despite the critical work they do”.

The GMB Union, that also represents many care workers, has put forward five recommendations designed to keep Britain’s care system from collapse: 

  • Full pay for all social care workers in self-isolation or sick due to coronavirus and for the Government to underwrite any employers who can't afford it 
  • Paid time off to care for children when there is no other option available 
  • Prioritise personal protective equipment, gloves, masks, and sanitiser making sure that care workers are protected while they protect our loved ones. 
  • Priority testing for all social care workers 
  • Safe staffing levels to allow for all staff to provide safe care and to have adequate breaks to avoid burnout   

During recent years, the Adult Social Care service has faced significant increases in need combined with reductions in resources. It was not protected during the years of austerity – on the contrary, budget reductions in local authorities that are responsible for Adult Social Care services were among the largest in the public sector. Councils were forced to find significant savings in a service that was already overstretched and there was a move to outsourcing the service to providers who could offer the lowest costs. The Local Government Association had already prepared the ‘graph of doom’ that showed that by 2022, local authorities would not be able to fund social care and then came coronavirus.

I think that in the short-term, government must act urgently to meet the needs of the Adult Social Care service and its workers. However, when the coronavirus outbreak is over, we cannot return to how we were. We need fundamental reform of Adult Social Care and – yes – that will include more resources and therefore more taxation.

Our webinars look at a range of subjects of interest to clients in local government and housing. They last about one hour and offer participants plenty of opportunities for questions and discussion as well as a presentation on the topic. The cost is £30 a session plus value added tax.

The webinars conform to the same standards that clients have come to expect at our seminars but offer a different format in which to learn and exchange information and points of view. Participants in each webinar also receive a digital copy of the presentation used, a digital copy of a briefing paper on the subject and a link to a video of the webinar. It is possible to ask questions during and after the webinar.

broadband

Our webinars are an ideal way to continue learning and training despite the coronavirus situation.

This week we have launched new webinars covering:

  • Introduction to Service Charges (relevant in England, Scotland and Wales)
  • Introduction to Housing Association Finance in England

With each subject there are three separate webinars covering different aspects of the subject.

These webinars are comprehensive, up to date and are designed for people who are not experts in housing finance, but who need to understand the basics and achieve an overview of what is going on. They are suitable for board members, councillors, housing managers, tenant representatives, finance staff who have limited experience of housing finance and others who realise that an understanding of housing finance can place them at an advantage!

For further information or to make a booking, please follow one of the following links:

We intend to launch further webinars over the following weeks covering subjects including:

  • Introduction to Local Authority Housing Finance in Scotland
  • Introduction to Housing Association Finance in Wales
  • Introduction to Local Government Finance in England
  • Introduction to Local Government Finance in Wales
  • Introduction to Local Government Finance in Scotland
  • Developments in Local Authority Housing Finance in England
  • Local Housing Companies and Development
  • Business Planning in the Housing Revenue Account
  • Risk Management
  • Universal Credit and Rent Arrears

For further information about all our webinars, please click here.

If you would like to enquire about future webinars, or would like to suggest any relevant subjects, please e-mail adrian.waite@awics.co.uk or telephone 017683-51498.

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