The Health and Social Care Secretary thanked the social care workforce for their “courage and commitment” as he announced a new action plan for tackling the coronavirus last night.
Speaking to care professionals directly, Matt Hancock said: “As much as the doctors, the nurses, the paramedics, you are on the frontline in this battle.”
The new action plan includes measures to boost access to PPE, ramp up testing in the sector and recruit 20,000 more staff.
Building on the PPE plan he set out last week, Hancock said a dedicated supply chain will be in place for social care, which will mean care providers can make orders and have them dispatched directly to them – in line with the NHS and Local Resilience Forums.
Care providers unable to get PPE from their usual suppliers will be supported by a 24/7 hotline and in-house team who pack and deliver PPE to providers.
The government is also working with e-commerce experts to pilot a website, which will allow care providers to order PPE online, using NHS Supply chains and shipped directly via Royal mail.
Hancock repeated the government’s plans to ensure all care workers who need a test receive one, and to test all symptomatic residents in a care home to prevent outbreaks.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is working in partnership with ADASS and local providers to lead the coordination of regional testing and have offered testing to 11,000 care facilities.
All registered care providers will be contacted in the coming days so employers can identify staff eligible for testing in line with PHE guidance and refer them to their local testing centre, the Department of Health and Social Care said.
The government will also strengthen its social care recruitment campaign under the new action plan, with the aim of recruiting “tens of thousands” more people into the sector, backed by a new online learning platform to upskill staff.
Chief Executive of Care England, Professor Martin Green said: “To attract 20,000 people into social care over the next three months to relieve pressures in the care workforce, in the next few weeks we will re-launch our national recruitment campaign to run across broadcast, digital, and social media.
“The campaign will highlight the vital role that the social care workforce is playing right now, during this pandemic, along with the longer-term opportunity of working in care.”
Recognising the care workforce in his Downing Street briefing, Hancock he said: “Everyone knows their job isn’t easy, but I know what a fulfilling profession it is, and I know that many will answer our call.
Speaking directly to care workers, he said: “I want to thank you for your courage and your commitment…the work that you do is difficult, demanding and vitally necessary, and you do it with such love and care and attention, taking on the extra shifts that might be needed to fill the gaps left by self isolating colleagues and providing dignity and comfort for people in some of the most difficult circumstances. We as a nation stand with you.”
Minister for Care, Helen Whately said: “The care workforce is playing an essential role in the fight against Covid-19, and they deserve the same recognition and support as NHS staff.
“This virus has brought many challenges to the sector and today we are setting out how we will ensure care staff have all they need to do their jobs safely.
“We are keen to get as many people on the care frontline as possible which is why we’re launching a campaign to attract people to the sector to support the national effort. I urge former social workers, occupational therapists and nurses to return to the sector to join the fight to protect our most vulnerable.”