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The government has unveiled its new adult social care action plan, outlining the measures to support those providing care in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applying to England only, the action plan sets out the government’s approach for all settings where people receive adult social care, including people’s own homes, residential care homes and nursing homes, and other community settings.

Aimed at supporting care providers, the care workforce, unpaid carers, local authorities and the NHS to maintain services throughout the pandemic, the comprehensive plan highlights a number of key areas relating to adult social care.

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With many companies in the trade also working in parallel with the adult social care system to provide vitally needed equipment to ensure individuals’ safety and independence, the action plan also contains information directly relevant to professionals in the industry.

Personal budgets and direct payments

In particular, the action plan discusses the use of personal budgets and direct payments. The scheme, consisting of Personal Health Budgets and Personal Wheelchair Budgets, provides those with long-term health and care needs more control and choice over their health & care support.

Outlined in the new action plan, the government says: “During the pandemic, we expect local authorities, CCGs and direct payment holders to adopt a more flexible approach to the use of direct payments, so that people can continue to control how their needs are met.”

What this means in practice, however, is yet unknown, with the Department of Health and Social Care stating that it will publish guidance setting out further details shortly.

Support for disabled people

Focused on disabled people, those with sensory impairments and their families, the government promises “to work closely with user led organisations and advocacy groups as well as with charities and others best placed to understand how these needs can be met in the context of COVID-19.”

Importantly, local authorities are still legally obligated to provide advocacy when exercising functions which require the involvement of an individual and must be upheld to support people, including when individuals are discharged from hospital.

End of life care

In addition, the action plan raises the question of end of life care in the community, reinforcing that the care must continue to be planned in a holistic way involving social care, community nursing, general practice, occupational therapy, and others.

The action plan stresses that this includes “access in people’s homes and care homes to professionals and equipment that support this.”

For those in the trade involved in delivering this equipment, the government says it “will monitor and take action to support collaboration across health and social care settings where needed to support appropriate access, working with CQC and others to access local intelligence.”

Increase in funding

Referencing a substantial £2.9 billion increase in social care funding to aid local authorities and accelerate hospital discharges announced in March 2020, the action plan prompts local authorities to get the funding they have received quickly to the front line.

It comes as local authorities and NHS trusts in different areas of the country have been urging residents to return any unneeded community equipment, with Devon County Council recently warning on stock shortages for items such as commodes.

According to the action plan, local authorities should monitor the ongoing costs of delivering care in the community and adapt to meet new costs.

Care Act easements

Having already passed the Coronavirus Bill which provides local authorities with the ability to ease requirements outlined in the Care Act, as well as guidance to local authorities regarding introducing easements, the social care action plan reinforces the requirements relating to any streamlining of services.

In particular, the Department of Health and Social Care states that “any decision to operate under the easements will be carefully considered, taken only as a last resort and well documented.”

Local authorities that do decide to implement easements are advised to fully communicate this to care recipients and providers, as well as report it to the government.

PPE concerns

Tackling concerns relating to access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the government has pledged to increase access to PPE for the care sector and will directly supply and distribute to the care sector for the first time.

It follows criticism by care providers, social care workers and unions about the lack of appropriate equipment for those working in adult social care.

In the action plan, the government emphasises that its normal supply chain for PPE was designed to accommodate delivering to 226 NHS trusts and did not include the social care sector, resulting in the widespread shortages.

“As of the week starting 6 April 2020, we are now providing essential PPE supplies to 58,000 different providers including care homes, hospices, residential rehabs and community care organisations,” reads the plan.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care, the way PPE will be delivered to care homes is being rapidly overhauled, with homes supported to order PPE quickly, including through direct dispatches via Royal Mail, a 24/7 hotline and a new pilot website.

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We respect your privacy BarnettCoronavirus NewsCOVID-19 Sector NewsGovernment & Local AuthoritiesNewsroomNHSRetailer NewsSector NewsTrade Newsaction plan,adult social care,Care Act,care act easements,coronavirus,coronavirus bill,COVID-19,Department of Health and Social Care,pandemic,Personal Health Budgets,Personal Wheelchair Budgets,PPEThe government has unveiled its new adult social care action plan, outlining the measures to support those providing care in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.Applying to England only, the action plan sets out the government’s approach for all settings where people receive adult social care, including people’s own...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals