This report sets out the progress and learning from the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in informing advice and recommendations to government and the social care sector.
The Social Care Sector COVID-19 Support Taskforce was commissioned in June 2020, with this report seeing the completion of its work in August 2020. The taskforce was set up to oversee the delivery of two packages of support that the government had put in place for the care sector: the Social Care Action Plan and the Care Home Support Plan.
In addition, the taskforce was asked to support the government's work on community outbreaks – areas of the country that needed particular help and intervention to deal with higher rates of infection – and advising and supporting local places to consider and respond to reducing the risk of infection in care homes and the wider social care sector. Its further remit was to provide advice on the requirements for the response to COVID-19 in the next few months, ahead of and into winter.
The taskforce carefully considered an extensive range of issues in relation to the social care sector as a whole, brought together as key themes. These included the provision of personal protective equipment, COVID-19 testing arrangements, the winter flu vaccination programme, infection prevention and control, and issues of funding. The taskforce examined a number of issues relating to the workforce and family carers (unpaid), including how best to restrict the movement of people between care and health settings. Among other themes, the taskforce reviewed the role of clinical support within the sector, the availability and application of insights from data, and implications of inspection and regulation.
This report sets out the action that will need be taken to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the sector, both for those who rely on care and support, and the social care workforce. This report sets out how we can enable people to live as safely as possible while maintaining contacts and activity that enhance the health and wellbeing of service users and family carers.
Throughout this report, a number of recommendations are made based on learning from the first phase of the pandemic. They range from 'quick wins' to consideration of topics that will require a degree of more substantial change and/or additional resource. In addition, there are a number of supporting recommendations in the annexed reports of the subject-specific advisory groups, which should be considered in tandem with the main report recommendations.