In North Yorkshire, the County Council, North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Vale of York CCG, Bradford and Craven CCG and Public Health England are working with care providers across the region to ensure everything possible is done to protect vulnerable residents and frontline staff. Meeting daily, they are tracking the support that is offered and identifying further measures to contain and reduce outbreaks wherever possible.
Cllr Michael Harrison, Executive Member for Adult Services and Health Integration, said:
The care sector in North Yorkshire employs more than 17,000 people and their work is fundamental to meeting the challenges of Covid-19 and to keeping people safe and well looked after.
We recognise the difficulties facing care homes and other care providers. That is why Public Health England, the NHS, the County Council and City of York Council are working closely with them, both those where people have Covid-19 symptoms or diagnoses and those that remain free of the disease.
A combination of actions and support is helping to protect residents and staff. These include help with training, staffing, additional payments to contribute to Covid-19 costs, a hardship fund and help with implementing national guidance on safe practice and infection control. Recruitment to the County Council and the wider care sector continues (www.northyorks.gov.uk/careandsupport).
Strict personal hygiene and regular thorough cleaning within homes remains a crucial protective measure.
In addition, the authorities are working with affected homes to try to zone them so that they can protect people from Covid-19 and ensure that patients discharged from hospital can be cared for in appropriate surroundings to meet their needs.
Testing is now available for key workers, with mobile and home testing being rolled out.
The authorities are also doing all they can to source personal protective equipment (PPE), with supplies delivered to the Local Resilience Forum being made available to care providers where their usual suppliers are unable to deliver. The County Council is also grateful to the businesses and schools that have donated PPE and are now increasing their production.
Advice is also being offered to families who may be concerned about relatives living in care homes.
Cllr Harrison added:
We thank care homes for all they are doing to support residents and their families. We would ask them to help residents to stay in contact with their loved ones, by telephone or other technology. We are also asking providers to keep families informed if they have an outbreak of Covid-19 in a home and about the steps they are taking to address it and to keep people safe and well.
If relatives have concerns, they should speak to the care home directly or to their social worker, if they have one. Alternatively, in North Yorkshire contact the County Council’s customer service centre on 01609 780780, 8am to 5.30pm every day and for emergencies overnight.
The authorities are working closely, too, with the Independent Care Group, which is the umbrella organisation for local care providers.
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group and owner of St Cecilia’s Care Services in Scarborough said the councils, NHS, PHE and ICG were pulling together to tackle the crisis. He said:
Providers know they can ring both the Councils and the ICG to get support on tackling an outbreak, as we are sharing intelligence and giving up-to-date advice.
We are supporting providers, where possible, to carry on admitting people, even those with Covid-19, including when discharged from hospital. We are advising providers and giving practical help on how to isolate people with Covid-19 and create areas where they can be accommodated. We have a duty to provide care for everybody in this current crisis and we will also be connecting with families to inform them of how we are protecting their loved ones in present circumstances.
What we are facing now as a sector is unprecedented but in York and North Yorkshire we are all working together to be as well prepared as we can be.
In York, the Council and NHS Vale of York CGG are in daily contact with care homes and care providers with updates and the latest Government information. There are regular check-ins with staff members in the CCG’s Partners in Care network to offer support and wellbeing advice.
The CGG and the Council is working with its partners across the Vale of York to facilitate a unified response to care homes that provides proactive solutions, as well as support to react to issues that arise. The CCG is also providing timely, practical training and development opportunities through its Partners in Care Covid-19 Response ECHO Network on topics such as PPE, COVID-19, End of Life and Advance Care Planning via video conferencing, guidance and peer support.
The CCG and Council are supporting the care home’s business continuity plans. Working with St Leonard’s Hospice, there is now in place a model to support the community including care homes, for a single point of contact and care delivery and support for end of life.
An important part of the work to support Vale of York care homes includes providing technology and IT hardware; a resource not previously provided, and this is helping to facilitate virtual working, new, improved ways of operating for Health Care Practitioners, an increase to the speed of assessments and the expansion of virtual assessments and visiting.
Sickness and staffing levels in care homes are monitored and have held steady and manageable throughout. Recruitment is also taking place for care staff and social workers both within the Council and to support other care providers to ensure there is sufficient well-qualified support for the City’s most vulnerable residents now and in the longer-term.
To help support care homes and care providers, we have increased payments to cover additional costs providers are facing due to Covid-19, alongside a range of other measures, such as paying providers in advance. In addition, financial support is in place for private businesses such as care homes and, with York CVS, and the Council is signposting voluntary organisations that provide care to sources of funding.
The Council and CCG have been supporting care providers and care homes to keep abreast of Government guidance on PPE, and on their own requirements for PPE to protect residents and staff. Besides managing supplies using existing and new sources, the Council has been delighted by local donations of unused, spare PPE from organisations ranging from a croquet club to garages, which also adds to PPE made and donated by the city’s schools and volunteers.
Telephone calls on the Council’s helpline (01904 551550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org) with older or vulnerable residents and the tasks volunteers carry out for them, also help free care providers to focus on their most vulnerable clients.
Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member of health and adult social care at City of York Council, said:
Support from neighbours and from the community is creating a kinder, more compassionate and better supported city, which in turn is enabling care providers and social workers to focus their expertise on residents at greatest risk or with the highest needs.
Alongside their generosity, the council is rising to the challenge in an adaptable and resilient way. We’re making changes for the better quickly and well in many different ways, in many and varied locations, and at all hours of the day and night.
I’m so grateful to our staff for their innovation, hard work and flexibility. Their collaboration with partners and solution-focused work is helping residents to maintain their independence, supporting and enabling communities to keep resilient, and making sure that the most vulnerable.
Catherine McClure, managing director of Support Solutions Homecare, said:
We just wanted to say thank you for the amount of information provided so far throughout this awful time. We have all read a lot of negative [comment] regarding a lack of support and we are letting all who ask know that this is not the case! Thank you to you all for what you’re doing behind the scenes: it is very much appreciated.