The United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) has condemned the government for an “intolerable delay” in releasing revised guidance for home care providers on the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The organisation, which represents more than 2,000 domiciliary care providers, says it spent last weekend helping Public Health England (PHE) produce guidance suitable for the home care sector, but is yet to see a final draft.
“We understand that the final version is still sitting on the Minister’s desk, awaiting sign-off at the Department of Health and Social Care,” said Colin Angel, policy director at the UKHCA.
Current guidance from PHE says health and social care workers can switch to “sessional use” of PPE to preserve stocks.
Hospital staff can therefore wear the same mask, gloves and apron for a ward round or visit to patients in the same bay, while care home staff can do the same when in contact with residents.
But domiciliary care providers say it means staff must dispose of PPE after each visit and have called for the guidance be changed to stop the sector from running out of supplies.
“There has been an intolerable delay in releasing revised guidance for homecare providers on the correct use of Personal Protective Equipment,” said Angel.
“We have not seen the final draft, so still do not know whether our recommendations were adopted.
“Meanwhile, homecare providers are struggling to give their workforce sufficient PPE; arrangements for obtaining emergency supplies remain unclear in some areas; and providers are likely to be using more scarce supplies than necessary while government gets its act together.”
UKHCA chair Dominique Kent said in a video interview with HCI earlier this month that the current PPE guidance is “poor and confusing”.
“Whilst it’s understandable that the NHS takes priority, why is it fair that we ask our social care workforce to operate without adequate protection and clear guidance?” she said.