Preparing for a second wave: What the sector needs to win the fight
As we move into autumn and winter, thoughts and concerns are rising about a second spike of COVID-19 cases. But if a second wave were to hit, would the country, and more specifically the social care sector, be better prepared this time? In the latest edition of Care Management Matters (CMM) a particular feature shares what Liz Jones, Policy Director at National Care Forum, says the sector needs to win the fight.
Thinking about how to prepare for the coming months, which may also bring the risk of flu as well as COVID-19, it is vital that the sector has an active and responsive approach to the lessons learned so far this year. It is also necessary to think carefully about what can be done differently to the way care and support is provided and delivered to the most vulnerable.
The CCM feature outlines the below key aspects of preparedness that is needed and from where:
- Leadership from the sector – the National Care Forum is working alongside the University of Leeds to build a report that clearly covers the experiences and the key lessons learnt so far by health and care professionals working on the frontline, which is due to be published in October.
- Supporting the workforce – it is recognised that the impact of the pandemic may have longer-lasting effects on our workforce and that their longer-term health and wellbeing is supported. Urgent action from the government has been requested for them to invest in the care sector to enable employers to offer better rewards and recognition that can be given to the care workforce.
- Testing – testing is a key element to preventing and managing COVID-19 in the coming months. Asks of the government around testing are; that they fully and effectively implement the home testing system, they rapidly increase the testing capacity for social care to cover all settings, and they enable testing for visitors and other people who bring services into all care settings.
- Good infection prevention and control (IPC) – COVID-19 is a new virus and more knowledge is required in terms of how it transmits. Asks of the government around IPC are; that they continue and widen their financial support for infection prevention to help maintain the essential measures needed, they ensure there is a robust, reliable and quality supply of PPE for the next 6-9 months, and they commission more research into the transmission of COVID-19.
- Fighting flu – the sector as a whole has the responsibility to actively promote the uptake of the flu vaccine for both people using the care services and the staff delivering the support. It is asked of the government to take urgent action and provide clarity on their flu vaccine plans and how they plan to support the care sector.
“Personally, I feel very passionate about testing being made available for visitors in all care settings. It is very often the case now that because a visitor has not been tested for COVID-19, they are unable to go into the service to see their family member or loved one. I was recently talking to a lady whose mum has dementia and was in a care home and was unable to visit her due to the restrictions in place. Time passing was a real concern to this individual as her Mum was recognising her less and less. If testing was available to visitors, it would mean she would get to spend more precious time with her Mum. I think many of us find ourselves in a similar position and as we enter a second wave of COVID-19 it is so important that we find a solution to this long term challenge.”
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