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Coronavirus update from care minister Helen Whately MP

Yesterday, the minister for social care, Helen Whately MP, hosted a teleconference to update the Care Provider Alliance and representatives from local government on issues relating to COVID-19 for social care. Also participating on the the call was Shared Lives Plus executive director of support and development, Anna McEwen. The minister covered three main topics: testing, PPE and funding - more details of which can be found below.

Testing

Testing began last week for health workers. 900 tests have been completed so far and they are focused on quality control to ensure testing is effective. As capacity for testing increases, they will start to provide testing for a wider group with a focus on social care. The department for health and social care (DHSC) currently working on what that looks like and how testing will happen.

PPE

This is the single biggest issue for the social care sector that DHSC and the Minister are hearing about, and they had heard the anxiety of staff and concerns that providers have.

There are mixed messages about when and how to use PPE. Guidance around the appropriate use of PPE will be issued by DHSC later this week.

Social care services that have not received their PPE were invited to contact DHSC to inform them. Shared Lives schemes should advise anna@sharedlivesplus.org.uk if they have not received their PPE and this will be collated to send to DHSC.

Funding

The Minister recognised the additional costs to adult social care during the crisis. In other sectors (care homes/home care) this includes covering the costs of people who are self-isolating or shielding, although less relevant to Shared Lives. £1.6bn has been allocated to local authorities to address the issues faced by social care (and to address other key issues e.g. rough sleepers).

Please see Shared Lives Plus guidance on funding.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) also contributed to the call by saying that they are redirecting all registration efforts to respond to Covid-19. They have streamlined registration processes and timescales to respond as the sector comes up with new models and ways to support people. Registration could be turned around in a couple of hours if necessary.