Friday, June 12, 2020

When governments don't care

Thousands of people lost their lives “prematurely” because care homes in England lacked the protective equipment and financial resources to cope with the coronavirus outbreak, according to council care bosses. Care homes could account for half of all Covid-19 deaths in England by the end of June, according to one recent estimate.
In a highly critical report, social care directors say decisions to rapidly discharge many vulnerable patients from NHS hospitals to care homes without first testing them for Covid-19 had “tragic consequences” for residents and staff.
In many places, vulnerable people were discharged into care facilities where there was a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) or where it was impossible to isolate them safely.
“Ultimately, thousands have lost their lives prematurely in social care and were not sufficiently considered as part of wider health and community systems. And normality has not yet returned,” James Bullion, the president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), said. He added: “It is clear that adult social care was rendered ill-equipped and under-resourced to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic by the failure of successive governments of all political colours to recognise and understand how essential social care is.”  Care homes had been treated as an “afterthought” in the fight against Covid-19. Lack of testing, issues with access to PPE and a lack of policy focus on social care in the early weeks of the pandemic had had “tragic consequences for individuals”.
It was not until 15 April that the government recommended testing before admission to care homes, and there has been widespread criticism of the slow and chaotic rollout of the testing programme.

Bullion said directors were still not confident that testing was comprehensive enough, and PPE supply had only just begun to improve. “Social care is not out of the woods,” he said.

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