A coalition of charities have warned that people living and working in the care sector have been “neglected”, in a letter to the government.
Alzheimer’s Society, Marie Curie, Age UK, Care England and Independent Age urged the government to publish a comprehensive plan to support social care through the pandemic in a letter yesterday to Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health and social care.
They warned that hundreds are dying in care homes and that care workers, who are putting their lives at risk, have been “undervalued”.
Charities say that sector needs access to testing and protective equipment. They also said they were concerned about people in care settings not being able to go to hospital and being cut off from family.
“We are appalled by the devastation which coronavirus is causing in the care system and we have been inundated with desperate calls from the people we support, so we are demanding a comprehensive care package to support social care through the pandemic,” the letter said.
‘Social care is the neglected frontline’
The letter said that care homes are not being provided with enough equipment to keep staff and patients safe.
“As a first step we urgently need testing and protective equipment made available to care homes – as we’re seeing people in them being abandoned to the worst that coronavirus can do,” it said.
Charities called for care homes to have similar support as NHS workers.
The letter added: “A lack of protective equipment means staff are putting their own lives at risk while also carrying the virus to highly vulnerable groups. Care professionals that have this equipment are using it in line with the guidelines – there’s just not enough getting through to the frontline. Care England estimates that there have been nearly a thousand deaths already, yet deaths from coronavirus in care homes are not being officially recorded or published, social care is the neglected frontline.”
Funding has been made available to local authorities
A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care said: “We are determined to give the social care sector the support it needs to respond to coronavirus and continue to work closely with Public Health England to monitor the impact on cares homes.
“We have published extensive guidance for care homes on admitting and caring for people during the outbreak, and have announced £2.9bn to help local authorities respond to pressures in key services, such as adult social care, and enhance the NHS discharge service, allowing patients to return home safely.”