Wokingham Borough’s unprecedented action to help protect its care homes during the Covid-19 crisis is well underway.
Last month the borough council took the decision to go against government guidelines by refusing to take patients discharged from hospital into some care homes unless it was certain they did not have coronavirus. At the same time, the council and partners across the health service set up a task force of specialists to work with care homes to make sure they were ready to cope with patients who had the virus.
The task force has now worked with 14 care homes to make sure they can start to take hospital discharges again.
“As with care homes across the country, those in the Wokingham Borough have been coping with a very difficult situation during this crisis,” said Cllr Charles Margetts, executive member for health wellbeing and adult services.
“People have died of Covid-19 in our homes and our thoughts are with them, their loved ones and the staff who are care for them.
“As we became concerned that the situation in care homes was worsening, we lobbied our MPs and the Local Resilience Forum for increased testing of those being discharged and for those in homes and for improved supplies of PPE. We increased our support to local care homes, including providing emergency supplies of PPE and forming a task force focussed on going into homes to support with specific issues like detailed infection control advice.
“Despite this lobbying and support, government guidelines continued to allow the potential discharge of patients with coronavirus into our care homes, so we took the decision to stop hospital discharge into our care homes unless the patient has tested negative and been without symptoms, or our task force had made sure the care home could cope with positive cases.
“This task force has now visited 14 care homes and we are now at the place where discharges from hospital can take place more safely into some homes. I would like to personally thank all care home staff for the immense effort they are putting in to keep people supported in the most difficult of situations.”
The task force is just one way the borough council has supported care homes during this crisis. Other help has included:
- An improved funding deal for care homes we contract with, plus ability to apply for additional temporary funding
- Help with supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – 231,000 pieces of PPE have been supplied to our care homes (313,000 pieces in total supplied to our social care providers)
- Regular advice and guidance – more than 300 calls to registered care homes
- Testing for staff with symptoms – more than 250 staff tested, plus others who have self-referred themselves for testing via the government’s website
- Offer of access to staff in an emergency and infection control hotline established.