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BASW Statement on the latest evidence of Covid-19 in care homes

We will continue to press this loudly and urgently, and to build alliances in doing this, so that the dignity and human rights of all adults in our society is upheld.

Increasing evidence of the breakdown in government resourcing, policy, strategic attention and understanding of the social care sector during the pandemic – most particularly is care homes – is coming to light.

The Guardian article 28 May 2020 by Robert Booth traces the lack of reaction by government to concerns raised by care providers and others from January onwards.

There is growing evidence that the government response to the pandemic was late overall – and this included providing advice to care homes to restrict external visitors and reduce changes of staff, and on how to keep frail and at risk residents safe within homes with outbreaks.

The risks to care homes overall were downplayed until the infections had taken hold.  As the NHS (rightly) went all out to prepare itself for a feared deluge of demand, completely unnecessarily and negligently care homes and other crucial parts of social care were side lined, lacking guidance, PPE resources and support to shore up a scandalously underpaid and undervalued workforce. Poorly paid carer workers continued to need to work multiple shifts in different facilities in many areas, or were finding it very hard to be off work and to isolate if they might have been exposed to Covid.   

Local healthcare support to homes was reduced in many places as the focus went on hospitals and many homes report being pressurised to take residents coming out of hospitals untested (many proving to be Covid positive) in the push to ‘clear’ hospital beds. Resources were poured into vastly underused Nightingale Hospitals while the infection and mortality crisis in care homes unfolded at pace.

There have now been as many deaths in care homes as in hospitals.

As a profession founded on the rights to equal regard and access to support and care of all people we cannot sit by quietly and witness so many at risk people – older people, people with disabilities and other needs - being victims of avoidable deaths, with the suffering for them and their families – and their care workers - that this has brought.

In our Human Rights statement of 27 April we demanded full investigations into the inequality of impact and response during Covid-19 and urgent action on deaths in care homes.

We will continue to press this loudly and urgently, and to build alliances in doing this, so that the dignity and human rights of all adults in our society is upheld. We will be publishing more on our alliances and actions with others to ensure we prevent as much further harm as possible now, learn what we can from this tragedy and press for a better, more just future for social care and people needing support.   

We will support all good actions that may be forthcoming now, from government and others. But we must have accountability, learning and determination to solve our social care crisis in and beyond Covid.

 

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