Health inspectors have uncovered multiple problems with infection control and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in care homes in England ahead of a second spike in COVID-19, which is starting to be detected in care facilities across the country.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found homes where PPE was not being worn and that had out-of-date infection prevention policies and were failing to take steps to protect black and minority ethnic residents and staff who have been identified as potentially more vulnerable to the virus.
The checks took place last month in 59 English care homes and were triggered by concerns about safety and quality or complaints by residents, staff and relatives.
The checks precede a government announcement within days of a winter infection control fund that is expected to broadly match the £600m already committed this year. The fund will pay additional staff costs stemming from using fewer highly mobile temporary workers, who have been shown to spread the virus.
However, the CQC inspections found PPE being worn inconsistently by staff members, limited supplies of masks in some places, and a failure to store PPE safely away from infection risk.
“We found examples of infection prevention and control policies that were out of date,” the inspectors said. “Some had been updated early on in the Covid-19 outbreak but had not been amended since and so contained out-of-date information. This posed a risk to the staff and people who live in the care home. Others had not been updated since 2019. One care home had completed a [contingency] plan, but it only covered the hot weather and did not include preparations for autumn and winter.”
Source: The Guardian, 16 September 2020