To us at Agincare the idea of limiting movement between care homes makes sense, but it is something that most care providers have been doing for months now. This does not appear to have been acknowledged by the proposal, which seems an act of the government playing ‘catch-up’ and wanting to be seen to be doing something effective.
Not an effective way to reduce risk
Anyone who knows the sector well will know this is not the way to address this particular risk and problem. Our response to the government’s consultation on the proposed policy implored ministers to listen to the experts. We care passionately about care homes and those who work and live in them and want nothing more than to keep all of them safe. If we really thought that such a policy would help save lives, we would support it. But we know it wouldn’t.
The sector has huge staffing issues already and all providers want a stable and consistent workforce. This proposal does not recognise the issues and how limiting movement and dual employment may impact the workforce themselves and provider capability, morale and workload.
In the midst of an already significantly challenging time for the sector and those who work in it, this proposed legislation feels heavy-handed. It would be a blanket attempt to control the uncontrollable, whereas targeted, supportive and management action by the bodies already operating across the sector could have much more impact at less cost and impact on morale. The focus needs to be on the providers who are not managing this issue safely and who need support to do so.
Placing even more strain on all concerned
This policy could damage the sector further, and would definitely place more strain on all concerned. The care and nursing homes that really need the support to manage this better would be the ones who end up repeatedly using the exemptions, thus making the whole exercise pointless.
The government introduced the £600 million Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund in May 2020 to tackle the spread of coronavirus between care settings. It has since been extended until March 2021, with an extra £546 million of funding.
However, the Infection Control Fund does not cover existing costs of managing COVID-19. The proposed ban on the movement of care workers between care homes would place more financial strain on the sector and see further home closures. And it may well end up risking more movement. If some staff are made to choose between jobs, more agency staff may well need to be called on under exemptions. We urge the government to rethink this proposal.
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