Report/presentation of Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Wellbeing.
The Committee considered a Powerpoint presentation/report (slides attached at Appendix B to the signed minutes) by the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Health Care and Wellbeing regarding the impact of the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic on residential care provision in Staffordshire.
Currently there were 243 active Care Homes in Staffordshire, with a total of 7,599 registered beds. Approximately half of all Care Homes in the County had reported at least one confirmed case of Covid-19 amongst either residents or staff and there had been a total of 202 deaths from the virus outbreak so far.
In response to Central Government requirements and having regard to the County Council’s duty to the health and care of local residents, the County Council had worked with Clinical Commissioning Groups and other stakeholders to Implement a Care Home Support Plan. This plan set out the various support measures available to the residential care sector, in an attempt to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic and covered:- (i) advice and guidance; (ii) training in infection control (iii) supplies of Personal Protective Equipment; (iv) surveillance and response to cases and outbreaks; (v) clinical support; (vi) testing; (vii) intensive support with staffing where required; (viii) arrangements to reduce the movement of staff and (ix) additional funding available.
During his presentation, the Deputy Leader also outlined the clinical, operational and financial risks to the sector in the short, medium and long terms arising from the outbreak.
Members then scrutinised the Authority closely seeking clarification and asking questions where necessary, as follows:- (i) the frequency of the current testing cycle (four weeks) and whether it was often enough; (ii) communications by care homes with residents’ families during lockdown; (iii) the on-going financial viability of Staffordshire care homes and consequences of failure; (iv) the robustness of infection control measures within care homes and actions to be taken by the County Council to re-assure relatives; (v) workforce recruitment and retention and reliance on agency staff.
In response, the Deputy Leader explained that:- (i) four week testing of all Care Home residents was being undertaken in line with national guidance; (ii) whilst effective and timely communications with residents’ families were challenging during this time, monitoring by the Authority had indicated that most homes were coping well. However, in the event the Committee were made aware of any issues in this respect, appropriate action would be taken upon receipt of relevant information; (iv) whilst the long term financial viability of care homes was a concern, it was too early to state how the market for residential care would develop in the medium to long term; (v) changes to operating policies, practices and standards could be incorporated into the Authority’s existing contracts with providers, as necessary. Considerations such as these were subject to close scrutiny, nationally and the Authority would remain vigilant and implement revised procedures, where necessary.
The Chairman then thanked the Deputy Leader for his attendance, and an interesting and informative presentation.
RESOLVED – (a) That the presentation/report be received and noted.
(b) That the impact of the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic on Care Homes in Staffordshire be monitored closely and that further scrutiny of relevant commissioners be undertaken at the appropriate time, as necessary.