Will families be denied care home visits? New curbs on to stop spreading coronavirus between nursing centres is unveiled… as ministers consider imposing restrictions on visits by loved ones
- MP’s consider imposing restrictions, given the recent rise in infections
- The new plan would ‘toughen up rules’ surrounding staff movements and impose restrictions on family visits
- Thousands of care home residents have died since the beginning of the pandemic
A CLAMPDOWN on carers who spread coronavirus between care homes was unveiled yesterday.
A new action plan would include measures to ‘toughen up rules’ surrounding staff movements.
Ministers are also agonising over whether to impose restrictions on family visits.
Yesterday Boris Johnson admitted to MPs that he was ‘concerned’ about the recent rise in infections. He said his new strategy would include extra cash to ensure homes have enough PPE.
And care workers will also be told to have a flu jab in a bid to make sure staff numbers do not collapse this winter.
Tens of thousands of care home residents have died since the virus pandemic began. At the height of the crisis, more than 400 were dying with Covid-19 every day.
Yesterday Public Health England warned that ‘clusters’ of coronavirus cases are breaking out in care comes on the outskirts of London.
Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: ‘The rise in infection rates is very worrying, particularly for care services –because people who use care services are at the highest risk of contracting the virus.’
Ministers consider imposing restrictions on visits by loved ones, in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson was challenged over his government’s failures on care homes by Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner. She said the ‘infection control fund’ – which helps care providers ensure staff are not moving between homes – runs out at the end of the month.
The PM replied that the Government would be launching its winter care home action plan. ‘She is right to raise the issue of care homes, and we are concerned about infection rates in care homes, but we will do everything we can to ensure that care homes and their workers are protected,’ he said.
Mr Johnson added: ‘It will not surprise her to know that we want to see a toughening up of the rules governing the movement of workers from one care home to another.
‘We want to make sure that we protect care homes from further infections, and that is the right thing to do.
‘I pay tribute to all the care home workers in this country for what they have done to help us bring down the disease. We will make sure, as we have done over the past few months, that they get the personal protective equipment that they need, that they get the guidance that they need and that they get the cash that they need, and that is what this government is committed to doing.’
Louisa Collyer-Hamlin, from Care England, said she hoped the care plan would extend the infection control fund in ‘time, money and scope’.
‘Under the existing scheme, it can be difficult for local authorities to get the money,’ she said. ‘We would like local authorities to be given free rein to spend it on things like paying for PPE, or installing visitor pods.’
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said she hoped there would not be restrictions on families visiting. ‘Some care homes are demonstrating that it is possible to combine safe visiting with good infection control, but this takes ready access to enough PPE and regular testing,’ she said.
‘To help this happen there needs to be a significant financial settlement in the winter care home plan so that care homes – many of whom are on the financial skids – can make this happen.
‘The risk of a visitor bringing Covid-19 into a care home needs to be balanced against the risk of isolated older people fading away from despair and loneliness.’