Nearly £270 million in funding will be provided to care homes to improve staffing levels and COVID-19 testing, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced.
Of the announced funding, £120 million will be for local authorities to boost staffing levels, while a £149 million grant system is intended to support increased testing in care homes. According to the DHSC, the impact of the new variant is being felt across the country, with staff absence rates rising sharply both in care homes and among home care staff, due to testing positive or having to self-isolate.
‘This additional funding gives a boost to the social care workforce during some of the most difficult days of this pandemic so far,’ said Minister for Care Helen Whately.
‘Care workers have been doing the most amazing job throughout the pandemic. In challenging circumstances, they have been caring for some of the people most at risk from this virus with compassion and skill. This additional £120 million will support social care to cope where there are pressing staff shortages due to the pandemic and comes on top of the £149 million to support safer testing.’
Many local authorities across the country already have staffing initiatives in place to increase capacity and address staffing issues. These include care worker staff banks where new recruits are paid during training, re-deployment models where DBS checked staff are trained and moved into operational roles, and end-to-end training and recruitment services. The new £120 million fund will ensure such initiatives can continue, and help other local authorities implement similar schemes.
‘This funding will bolster staffing numbers in a controlled and safe way, whilst ensuring people continue to receive the highest quality of care,’ said Matt Hancock, the Health and Social Care Secretary.
‘Since the start of the pandemic, we have taken steps to protect care homes, including increasing the testing available for staff and residents, providing free PPE and investing billions of pounds of additional funding for infection control. Help is on the way with the offer of a vaccine, with over 40% of elderly care home residents having already received their first dose.’