The Care Quality Commission has booked close to 12,500 appointments for adult social care staff to be tested for COVID-19.
Working with Public Health England, CQC’s national infrastructure is being used to book appointments at a national testing centre for any staff who are self-isolating with symptoms of coronavirus.
Since April 10, 24,590 adult social care providers in England have been contacted and 12,422 appointments have been booked.
This means that those who test negative will be able to return to work and help relieve the pressures that adult social care services are facing. The tests will also give care staff more peace of mind about their own safety, and that of their own families and the people they care for.
As some adult social care staff cannot visit a drive-through testing centre as they do not have access to a car, a scheme is being piloted this week for staff to order home testing kits.
Other measures CQC has taken to support adult social care include designing and launching a regular data collection on coronavirus-related pressures, such as shortages of PPE.
Home care providers have been asked to share data that will allow the regulator to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the people they care for, their workforce and their ability to deliver services.
The CQC has also condemned GPs for applying advance care plans, with or without Do Not Attempt to Resuscitate (DNAR) form completion, to groups of people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a joint statement with the British Medical Association, Care Provider Alliance and Royal College of General Practice, the regulator said this practice is “unacceptable”, and that these decisions must continue to be made on an individual basis according to need.
The CQC is also working with the Office of National Statistics to explore how to provide a more detailed and timely picture of the impact of coronavirus on adult social care, using the data on deaths of people with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 that they collect from providers.
It said this will also give a regional view of which areas are being most impacted and may need additional support as a result. The data will be used to support weekly ONS reporting on deaths from April 28.
Ian Trenholm, chief executive of CQC, said: “We’ve taken some really practical steps to support adult social care during a time of unimaginable pressure, and we’ll continue to develop the package of support we’re offering across all sectors to help providers prioritise the safety of people using services and of staff delivering care.
“It is especially important – at a time when staff may be looking after more patients than usual, working outside their normal competencies or in new environments – to highlight the value of safety culture. Ensuring an open and transparent culture where people can speak up when they have concerns about safety is crucial.
“Staff must feel confident that they will be listened to – without any fear of blame or reprisal – when raising concerns and reporting incidents. In these exceptionally challenging times, identifying and reporting risk so that action can be taken to ensure that safe care is maintained will be more important than ever. CQC will be listening, and we want to help you to keep people safe.”