Extra £22.7 million for adult social care sector described as “temporary sticking plaster”
Care home owners in North Wales have described the extra £22.7 million in emergency funding announced by the Welsh Government as a “temporary sticking plaster”.
The funding, announced yesterday, was described by Health and Social Services Minister Vaughan Gething as helping to “ensure adult social care providers can maintain their vital care in what continues to be challenging circumstances.”
The money being made available to local authorities is in addition to the £40 million made available to local authorities in April to support the social care sector to meet the skyrocketing bills in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
But while the announcement was “most welcome”, sector champions Care Forum Wales say the overwhelming priority must be to devise a national action plan to implement long-term structural change to mend a system that’s broken and fragmented.
The Welsh Government say they will review the situation again in September.
Mario Kreft MBE, the chair of Care Forum Wales, has called for an “overall strategy that includes the social care sector in tackling this emergency.”
“This extra funding and the kind words from the Health Minister are most welcome,” said Mr Kreft.
“But the extra money is only a temporary sticking plaster to tide the sector over until September.
“What we also need as a matter of urgency is a national action plan to implement fundamental long-term structural change to a broken and fragmented system.
“It is now August and this funding covers the period from July 1 so providers were becoming increasingly desperate.
“We cannot afford to wait until September to review the overall situation again. We need to start planning now so we can sustain the sector through this coming winter so that, crucially, care homes and nursing homes can support the NHS.
“We need to plan for the six-month period to get us through the winter when the pressure on the NHS is likely to be greater than they have ever seen and greater than we have seen during this pandemic.
“Certainly, care homes have never faced pressures like this before – it’s an enormously challenging situation.”
Mr Kreft has also called for “structural change” to ensure “social care which is means tested dovetails better with the health service that’s free at the point of delivery and that it is funded in a more coherent way.”
He said: “The current model of funding which has been in operation for nearly a quarter of a century is clearly not fit for purpose and never has been.
“Funding is allocated via local councils and health boards which means we essentially have 29 variations on a theme which is an absolute nonsense.
“The vast majority of care home residents are publicly funded and providers have been forced to dance to the varying tunes of local councils for a generation”
“Our magnificent front line staff and the providers have been heroic in keeping the virus at by in the vast majority of care homes where they have either not had outbreaks of have managed them very well.
“Fundamentally, care homes are very safe, robustly managed places for vulnerable people and the biggest issues have been around people going into hospital. Many more people have succumbed to the virus in a hospital setting than in a care home setting.
“In fact, care home deaths associated with Covid-19 as a percentage in Wales have been lower than any of the other UK countries and lower than many in Europe.
“We need a new national action plan in place sooner rather than later so we can pump prime the sector, ensure the workforce benefits from the same terms and conditions as the NHS and implement structural change to properly integrate social care and the NHS so that providers are hard-wired in to meet the massive challenges that lie ahead.
“You cannot continue doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.”
Mr Gething said: “Social care plays a vital role in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and has been on the front line in our effort across public services to meet the challenges posed by Covid-19.
“The initial payment of £40m helped the sector meet the rising costs incurred during the pandemic in areas such as staffing, increased infection control, higher food prices and greater use of ICT to keep families in touch with their loved ones where they were no longer able to meet.
“This further funding will ensure adult social care providers can maintain their vital care in what continues to be challenging circumstances.”
This is particularly so in the case of care homes, who are now also facing financial challenges through loss of income as a result of increased vacancies in their homes due to the need to restrict new admissions to contain the virus.
The funding will be made available immediately and continue until the end of September after which the situation will be reviewed again.
The Minister added: “The social care workforce is on the front line of this huge effort to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and we are committed to supporting every single person do their job.
“Every one of us in Wales owes them a debt of gratitude. I want to personally want to thank our social care workforce for their fantastic efforts in protecting the public.”
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