Care homes have been allocated more than £13 million Government funding to help them stop the spread of coronavirus.
The money from the new £600 million Infection Control Fund will help providers meet the extra costs associated with measures aimed at reducing Covid-19 transmission.
This could include restricting staff to one care home site, or paying workers who are self-isolating at home after developing Covid-19 symptoms.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been allocated £3,143,450 out of the fund, while Staffordshire County Council will get £9,915,537.
These allocations are ring-fenced for social care and come on top of the previously announced £3.2 billion emergency funding for local authorities. They have been calculated based partly on the number of registered care home beds within each council area.
In Stoke-on-Trent, three-quarters of the funding will be automatically distributed to eligible care homes, based on how many beds they have, before the end of May. The remainder will be held back to meet specific needs.
City council leader Abi Brown said: “We welcome this new Government funding for care homes, which comes on top of the work the city council has been doing with providers over the last few weeks, making sure that they have things such as sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE).
“The latest figures indicate that the outbreaks in our care homes have now plateaued, but clearly we need to keep up this work as there remains the possibility of a second wave.”
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Elderly people with underlying health conditions are among the most vulnerable to Covid-19, and there have been growing concerns that care home residents and staff have not been given enough protection from the virus.
Nearly a third of the confirmed or the suspected Covid-19 deaths in North Staffordshire – 87 out of 264 – have occurred in care homes. This figure includes 44 care home deaths in Stoke-on-Trent, 33 in Newcastle and 10 in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
Latest figures show that 21 out of 85 care homes in Stoke-on-Trent – 24.7 per cent – have experienced a coronavirus outbreak so far. Around a third of the homes in Staffordshire – 83 out of 250 – have had outbreaks.
Bradwell Hall nursing home suffered one of the worst outbreaks in the area, with eight residents dying of Covid-19 over a three-week period.
But the crisis in North Staffordshire’s care homes may now be easing. Just five Covid-19 deaths occurred in Stoke-on-Trent care homes in the week up to May 8, down from 12 two weeks earlier – although these figures are only provisional and could increase due to late registrations.
In addition to the infection control funding, the Government has also told councils to carry out a daily review of care homes to ensure they have the support they need with things such as staffing and PPE.
And the NHS will ensure that every care home in the country has a named clinical contact so they have better access to clinical advice through weekly check-ins.
Care minister Helen Whately said: “Our care homes, and those working tirelessly to look after our loved ones are at the heart of our fight against this invisible enemy, which is why we’re doing everything we can to make sure the sector has all the support it needs to stop the spread and save lives.
“Our support package introduces stronger measures on infection control and steps up clinical support to make sure there is a clinical lead assigned to every care home right across the country to offer advice and quicker support. This is an important set of measures to support care homes and their staff – to continue to do wonderful work caring for people, even at this most difficult of times.”
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