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Agenda item


At members’ request to provide a general overview but with a focus on care homes, impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable residents and how the Council has provided support.


Ms Karen Smith, Director of Adult Services advised that the primary aim of services during the pandemic was to ensure the safety of both patients and staff. The response to the crisis had been a partnership and the Council had played a significant role in the Lancashire Resilience Forum alongside Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council and NHS colleagues amongst others.


A key function of the service had been to provide support to social care providers to prevent and manage outbreaks. Residents of care homes had been identified as at risk at an early stage and financial and practical support had been given to care homes in order to manage and mitigate the risks. Support hubs had been established and staff had been redeployed where necessary with an emergency workforce funded when required. There had been early dialogue with social care colleagues from Europe which had supported early action. In response to questions, Ms Smith advised that there was no indication that Brexit would prevent continued dialogue and that the social work network had not been organised by the European Union.


In relation to care homes, the Council had guaranteed a minimum baseline payment to providers to ensure their sustainability and had provided an immediate 10% uplift to payments which had been matched by the Clinical Commissioning Group. The Government’s infection prevention fund had been passed to care homes and had equated to approximately £500 per head to be spent on allowable measures.


It was noted that full sick pay was not common in the care sector and providers had been supported to pay full sick pay for periods of isolation due to covid in order to ensure there was an incentive to remain off work to prevent further infections. The work of the sector and staff was commended during the outbreak.


With regards to personal protective equipment (PPE), it was noted that equipment had been sourced and supplied to the sector for the whole of Lancashire in bulk to improve buying power when it had been difficult to procure items. At no point during the pandemic had care homes been without the required PPE or a suitable and approved alternative.


Infections remained low at settings currently and many care homes had retained their non covid status. The majority of cases diagnosed were now asymptomatic and discovered through regular testing. There were currently nine confirmed cases within five settings and Ms Smith highlighted the positive impact of the support and advice provided by Public Health in Blackpool directly to care homes. Emphasis was now being placed on ensuring staff were informed of the importance of maintaining social distancing and hygiene outside of work.


In regards to those on the shielded list, many had not required assistance when approached, and it was noted that advice to shield was being removed from the end of July. Lists of those needing to shield would be maintained in order to prepare for a possible second wave and the need to shield again. In addition to support for those shielding, community hubs had been established to provide support for vulnerable people through the delivery of food and medicine. Work through the hubs was being gradually reduced as services returned to normal.


It was reported that a key national issue had been the unsafe discharge of patients with covid into care homes and measure had been put in place locally to ensure that was not the case with additional social care staff in attendance at the hospital to ensure discharges were safe.


Ms Smith also highlighted that respite services had operated throughout the pandemic as it was imperative to provide consistency to some clients such as those with autism. A return to day service provision was currently being planned with options being modelled based on the number of people wishing to resume attendance and the amount of space available. In response to questions, it was noted that options for additional space would be considered if more people wished to attend than there was physical space for and that there was no strict timeline for the reintroduction of services which would be gradual.


In response to further questions it was noted that there could be costs attached to the reintroduction of services should additional staff and space be required, however, it was not yet known if that would be the case.


Members queried whether the provision of adaptations to homes had continued, noting that the adaptations were often vital in preventing falls. In response, Mr John Donnellon, Chief Executive, Blackpool Coastal Housing (BCH) advised that a range of contractors were used by BCH to provide the home adaptations service and that safe systems of working had been put in place. He gave the example of the worker contacting the resident before arrival to ensure the resident was isolated away from the room requiring work. The worker would then clean the room before and after the work and then leave before contacting the resident again to confirm the work was complete.


The Committee highlighted the fantastic work of services in ensuring that care homes had been successfully supported during the pandemic and suggested that communications should be improved to inform residents of the good work undertaken. 

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