Care providers supporting working-age disabled adults have been left “at the back of the queue” for accessing funding and vital resources during the pandemic, a charity has warned.
Sense, which supports people living with complex disabilities, said it is “vital” that providers are able to easily access the additional £1.6 billion allocated by the government to local authorities in April so that vulnerable people can get the care they need.
The charity explained that its residential and supported living services are “stretched” and estimates that it will spend an extra £162,000 on PPE from July to September, up from £132,000 between April and June.
Rebecca Hodgson, Head of Quality at Sense said: “Government must address the ongoing crisis so that vulnerable people with complex disabilities get the right care and support. It is essential that the future roadmap for social care recognises and addresses the social care needs of disabled people and their families as well as the role of the sector wider than just supporting the NHS with its COVID-19 response.
Hodgson said families and carers need more advice and guidance about what to do in a crisis, especially if they find themselves unwell or unable to cope with long-term care in self-isolation.
“Local Authorities must help families and carers plan for the eventuality that they are unable to support a disabled loved one due to illness or more complex needs developing.”
Sense is also concerned that the inequalities disabled people face are being significantly increased during this crisis.
“One of the current problems is that government isn’t collecting the right data or involving disabled people and their families in decision making, and this means that the impact isn’t truly understood,” said Hodgson.
“Last month, Public Health England launched a review into the affect COVID-19 has had on different communities and their health, but they did not include disabled people in the scope of their research.
“This is why Sense has submitted evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee, as well as writing to MPs, Public Health England and the NHS about the situation for the families we support and how coronavirus has affected life for people with complex disabilities.”
The charity explained that due to social distancing measures and limited external support, it is having to continuously alter the way it supports people and respond to the impact isolation is having on individuals during the pandemic.
“For example, we have to video call specialist communication practitioners and behaviour support advisors to help explain to people that their support staff might start having to wear PPE which provides an additional drain on resource,” said Hodgson.
“At the same time, we have been able to redeploy some of our staff from day services, which are currently closed, to our residential services, which means we are able to combat the challenges of staff absences due to the pandemic.”