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BASW Statement: Care Homes, Personal Assistants and Covid-19

BASW urge a joined-up, comprehensive response by the government to address these issues.

BASW notes with grave concern the developing situation within care homes. We use the phrase care homes to include residential care, nursing homes and hospices. This statement may also be applied to supported living where staff and residents face some of the same risks.  We are also concerned about the risks to others providing care and support to people in their own homes, as formal and informal carers.

Care homes

Staff who work in care homes are crucial front-line workers in the fight against Covid - 19. Like their colleagues in health and social work they continue to suffer from a chronic shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Until recently people who died from Covid – 19 while in a care home were not even included in the daily figures of Covid - 19 deaths.  We now see an escalating crisis which may outstrip deaths in hospitals through the course of the pandemic outbreak.

Care homes and other settings covered by this statement accommodate some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. Because of Covid – 19, routine legal protections, for people in care homes (e.g. adult safeguarding assessments, deprivation of liberty checks, and external inspections), which include issues of human rights, are on hold or are severely curtailed.

Additionally, other layers of assurance for vulnerable residents are also missing, e.g. visits from family, friends or other professionals.

Other social care staff and settings

Personal assistants, home carers (paid) as well as informal carers/family members (i.e. all those who provide personal care to frail older people, or disabled people, in their own homes) are also in the front-line against Covid -19. They also suffer from a chronic shortage of PPE.

It is now known that members of the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community are over-represented in the number of tragic fatalities from Covid – 19[i]. Many people from the BAME community are staff members working in care homes and as personal assistants. They need to be protected.

The protection of care home residents, vulnerable adults in the community, care home staff and personal assistants are closely linked.

Action needed

BASW calls for a joined-up, comprehensive response by the government to address these issues. This would include gathering data (for example the number of personal assistants working in the community and their access to PPE), greater transparency, the adoption of realistic and credible timescales by government (e.g. on the provision of PPE) and increased partnership working.

BASW will continue to gather information and investigate the situation in social care and develop our position in light of emerging evidence and concern.

[i] See for example: Cook T, Kursumovic E, Lennane S (22 April, 2020) Deaths of NHS Staff from Covid-19 Analysed. Health Services Journal.  Accessed 22 April, 2020.

Further information