Our Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Kate Terroni, has written to the adult social care sector highlighting the action we are taking to support providers at this time.
Adult social care providers are telling us that COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on both the people they care for and their staff. We are escalating what we hear – including concerns about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and workforce – with local and national system partners in order to target additional resource and support where it's needed. The new action plan for Adult Social Care, published today by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) sets out the Government's response to many of these concerns.
The role CQC plays in the delivery of this strategy is very much shaped by what we’ve heard from providers. Today we are setting out what we are doing to help care staff get access to testing, and to ensure greater transparency on the impact of COVID-19 on the care sector.
Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care said:
"Testing for adult social care staff has been an issue that providers have consistently raised with us. Over the Easter bank holiday, we worked with DHSC to begin using CQC's national infrastructure to contact care providers in order to book appointments at a national testing centre for any staff who are self-isolating with symptoms of coronavirus – and soon staff will also be able to use this service to order a kit to test at home. We are working closely with local decision makers, including the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), and alongside national bodies, such as PHE to ensure we prioritise access to testing based on local need. This will give care staff more peace of mind about their own safety and that of their families and the people they care for – and means that those who test negative can return to work and help relieve the pressures services are facing. This is also being provided to staff at mental health services and learning disability and autism services.
"Another area of concern has been around visibility of the impact of COVID-19 on the adult social care sector. While there are daily updates on the number of people who have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus, it has been more difficult to track the number of deaths that occur outside hospital.
"We are working with ONS and Public Health England to look at how to provide a more detailed and timely picture of the impact of COVID-19 on adult social care. From this week, the death notifications we collect from providers will allow them to report whether the death was of a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. As well as giving a fuller picture of deaths in care settings, this will provide a regional view which allows an assessment of which areas are most impacted and may need additional support as a result. We will be reporting this data publicly and are working closely with ONS to explore the best way to include the new notifications as part of their weekly reporting.
"This week we've also launched a regular data collection on COVID-19 related pressures – such as shortages of PPE – from services who provide care for people in their own homes. This information will be combined with information already gathered from residential and nursing homes to give a much more complete picture of how coronavirus is affecting people who use adult social care services and those who care for them. This information will be shared across organisations who can help mobilise support as well as CQC's own inspection teams. The more information we have, the greater our ability to drive action will be.
"Those who work in social care have never had a more crucial – or a more challenging – role to play. We are here to support them so they can continue to keep people safe during this global emergency."