A home care provider based in Worthing is lobbying the government for COVID-19 testing for staff to be extended across the entire social care sector.
Antonia Hopkins, chair of the Board of Trustees at Guild Care, has written a letter to MPs and the leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, explaining the need to test community care workers in order to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
She said in the letter: “Currently staff and residents in our care homes are regularly tested, but we believe this should be extended to employees across all of our social care support services, such as home care and day centres for adults with learning disabilities. This needs to be brought to the attention of our local MPs and the government.”
The letter was penned following a recent meeting with employee representatives for the charity’s Staff Voice Group, where several members put forward their concerns to senior management about testing.
Alex Brooks-Johnson, interim CEO at Guild Care, added: “Some members of our Staff Voice group, which is a collective representation of employees, expressed concerns about the fact that we aren’t able to routinely test our home care and community services colleagues for coronavirus, unlike our care home staff who are tested every week. We are doing all we can to minimise the risk but want to urge the government to consider including all social care staff in testing.
Since the letter was sent, Guild Care has been contacted by former Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, who has shared the concerns with the government’s Health and Social Care Committee, which he chairs.
Brooks-Johnson said: “Let’s hope that this brings the changes needed to protect all care staff on the frontline and well as protecting our charity and other care providers against litigious action related to Covid-19.”
Leaders in the sector have previously said that the decision not to give home care workers equal access to testing is “illogical” given the research that suggests people who are asymptomatic can pass the virus onto others.
United Kingdom Home Care Association’s policy director Colin Angel said: “Fortunately, the rate of transmission of coronavirus amongst homecare workers does not seem to be any higher than in the general population. This appears to be Government’s rationale for not routinely testing homecare workers who do not have symptoms.
“But we are talking about a group of older or disabled people who may be more susceptible to coronavirus.
“It seems to be illogical that homecare workers and the people they support are currently excluded from asymptomatic testing. This has certainly created a sense that people who use home care services and our workforce have received a low priority in government’s thinking.”