The government has been warned it is throwing “a lit match into a haystack” by discharging Covid-positive patients to care homes, with politicians demanding that the safety of residents and staff is guaranteed under the new policy.
During the first wave of the pandemic, approximately 25,000 hospital patients were sent to care homes – many of whom were not tested – which helped spread the virus among residents. Around 16,000 care home deaths have been linked to COVID-19 since the start of the crisis.
The strategy was one of the government’s “biggest and most devastating mistakes” of the crisis, says Amnesty International, and questions have been raised over the decision to introduce a similar policy as the UK’s second wave intensifies.
As part of the 2020 adult social care winter plan, the government has called on local authorities and care providers to establish “stand-alone units” – so-called “hot homes” – that would be able to receive and treat Covid hospital patients while they recover from the disease.
There is also an expectation that, due to housing pressures and a shortage of suitable facilities, some patients may be discharged to “zoned accommodation” within a home, before being allowed to return to normal living settings once they test negative for the virus.
Councils have been told to start identifying and notifying the Care Quality Commission of appropriate accommodation, and to ensure high infection prevention standards are met.
Under the requirements outlined by the government, discharged patients “must have a reported Covid test result". However, The Independent revealed on Monday that these rules have not been followed in some cases, with a recent British Red Cross survey finding that 26 per cent of respondents had not been tested before being discharged to a care home.
There is also concern whether care homes possess enough adequate personal protective equipment to prevent outbreaks, with the CQC revealing last month that PPE was still not being worn in some sites.
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Source: The Independent, 27 0ctober 2020