The information provided to CQC by care homes via death notifications now forms part of the ONS' weekly reporting on deaths, ensuring a more complete and timely picture of the impact that COVID-19 is having on social care. Tragically, it is clear that this impact is a devastating one.
To support the sector, CQC inspectors are contacting providers who have reported deaths of people in their care from confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in order to offer information, advice and help. These conversations are also happening with providers who have reported an increase in non-COVID 19 deaths to ensure they are confident of the steps they should be taking to continue to protect people.
Examples of issues raised by providers contacted include:
- PPE shortages: inspectors have been contacting local authorities to ensure providers get the supplies they need - in one case an inspector arranged a loan of PPE from another provider to cover immediate need.
- Staff shortages: inspectors have facilitated liaison with home care agencies to explore provision of additional carers to care homes who are struggling with staff shortages, and liaison with NHS volunteer groups to explore provision of housekeeping staff.
- Medicines: inspectors have been answering questions about how staff can safely manage medicines usually administered by district nurses who are no longer able to give the same amount of support
- Infection control: inspectors are offering advice – sometimes based on their specific knowledge of individual care homes, gained from previous inspections - and signposting to PHE guidance.
Alongside accurate reporting of deaths, access to testing will be key to reducing infection and saving lives. CQC has used information provided by care home managers to identify candidates to take part in a pilot scheme for resident testing. The offer of home testing for residents has now been made to nearly 2000 locations. CQC have also booked testing appointments for 25,344 care staff so far as part of emergency start-up work, before passing longer term delivery to DHSC in partnership with PHE and NHSE.
In addition to deaths which are directly attributable to COVID-19, there has been a significant rise in non-COVID-19 deaths. This is of particular concern and CQC will be exploring the factors that may be driving this with adult social care trade associations, DHSC, PHE and NHSE to ensure timely action is taken to safeguard people. This work will also inform the ONS' longer-term research project on non-COVID-19 deaths during the pandemic.
Kate Terroni, CQC's Chief inspector of Adult Social Care, said:
"Every death in today's figures represents an individual tragedy for those who have lost a loved one - and for those who cared for them.
"We will continue to support care home managers as they do everything they can to keep people safe, but it is clear that more support is needed, from every part of the system, as social care staff go to extraordinary lengths to protect those in their care."