A senior figure at United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) has described the struggle that home care providers are facing in sourcing PPE and the “real stress” it’s causing business owners and their frontline staff.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast this morning alongside staff from AMD Home Care in Essex, UKHCA policy director Colin Angel said that “every home care provider in the country” is struggling to get a sure supply of PPE and having enough to be confident that they can continue providing care across, in some cases, “days, if not, just a few weeks”.
“It’s a real stress,” he said. “I have a provider who was telling me that he was spending 90% of his time trying to phone round and get PPE delivered. That means he’s looking for PPE rather than being able to run the rest of his service, and that’s a huge problem. The levels of stress that’s creating both for providers delivering care and their frontline care workers is really high.”
Barry Pactor, owner of AMD Care said told BBC Breakfast that his business is “genuinely in fear” of running out of gloves, aprons and, in particular, disposable facemasks, “any day”.
“We’re really worried as if we don’t have the PPE we can’t send our staff in and put our clients at risk. How are we going to look after people tomorrow, if there’s no face masks?” he added.
Pactor said the national stock pile promised by the government has been too difficult to access.
“When we’ve gone to them week after week to try and get help, they’ve said that ‘unless you’ve got a client with coronavirus or a member of staff with coronavirus we can’t help you’. It’s absolutely insane,” he said.
Angel also explained the additional cost pressures that come with PPE.
“The prices are increasing, the amount of PPE needed to deliver care services safely has shot up in a month, so all of these additional cost pressures need to be funded. We need some real support from government, which has been very slow in appearing,” he said.
“There are some really important things that need to happen. We need to get money coming to the frontline care providers, we need to recognise the huge increase in costs and sort out the supply of PPE.”
The government announced on Friday that VAT has been temporarily scrapped on Personal Protective Equipment, in a move the Treasury estimates will save businesses, including home care providers, more than £100 million.