By Melanie Weatherley MBE, Chair, Lincolnshire Care Association
This is a very challenging time for those involved in caring for the most vulnerable in society. Like our colleagues in the NHS we are worried about the effect on our workforce as people self-isolate and the need for the appropriate levels of PPE to keep service users and our staff safe.
SCIE: Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for social care
We are also concerned that our staff, who are working hard to cover colleagues who are unavailable, and supporting individuals who are understandably anxious, are going shopping at the end of a difficult day to find no food in the shops. This is being made easier with some designated time for keyworkers to shop, but perhaps the hubs being set up to support those who are being sheltered for 12 weeks, could support key staff if they have no-one else to shop for them.
A similar growing concern from our care homes, is that they are also finding that food is becoming difficult to buy. Smaller homes support their communities by using local shops and supermarkets, but again have been finding the shelves empty. Care associations are working with local authority colleagues to try to mitigate this. But, when you reach for that extra packet of pasta, or carton of eggs, please think if you really need it. Remember that this might mean that your local care home are wasting valuable time searching for the food that their residents need.
Providers of care at home are particularly concerned about the impact of staff shortages. We know that being supported by the same small group of care staff at a regular time is very important to our service users, but to make it possible to provide care to all those who need it, we may need to visit at different times, and using different members of staff. These changes are not something that will be introduced lightly, and we ask for understanding from our service users and their families.
Another pressing concern is the need for care organisations to be sustainable. This is not a sector which is particularly well-funded, and many providers are experiencing reduced revenue as people self-isolate, and rising costs to maintain levels of service. Additional support has been made available to NHS organisations and businesses which have had to cease or curtail their activities, but nothing yet to enable us to continue our vital services.