The president of ADASS has warned of a rising number of deaths among people who receive care at home, as they cancel their visits out of fear they will catch coronavirus.
James Bullion told the Health and Social Care Committee on Tuesday that he feared that the number of deaths could “mirror” those occurring in care homes as the crisis continues.
He said ADASS members have seen around 10% of service users stopping their home care visits to try and protect themselves from infection, but this could have serious health risks and consequences in itself.
“There is a kind of mirror here that’s potentially going on in home care, which is the mirror of the deaths in care homes caused by people maybe taking action to protect themselves from infection, but not necessarily taking care of their health and wellbeing in the intervening period, and I think we need to look at that,” he said.
“People are furloughing their care to protect themselves because of those worries.”
Bullion also told the committee, chaired by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, that the government’s response to infection control in the home care sector has been “inadequate” and that there needs to be a “separate plan” for domiciliary care.
“When we look at the figures, both for deaths in the community and also for transmission and outbreaks, we do have a significant problem in home support,” he said.
“If I have a gentle criticism of the recent funding for infection control, we are almost tagging on home support in that recent plan to say ‘by the way, councils, try and do something with some of this money for home support’.
“It’s really inadequate, actually, the response so far, and we do need a separate plan for home care to protect staff and protect people. We are not finished with waves of COVID-19 in the social care sector in my view.”
Bullion added that there is a “huge part” of testing to play in reassuring both staff and people in receipt of care that the person coming into their home has had a recent test and a negative result.
“There isn’t widespread testing,” he added. “It is growing, but the care workforce is 1.6 million in this country, so we are nowhere near the level of testing that’s required,” he said.