Health secretary pledges additional support for care home staff

PUBLISHED: 22:14 15 April 2020 | UPDATED: 22:14 15 April 2020

Health Secretary Matt Hancock showing the new 'Care' badge, described as a

Health Secretary Matt Hancock showing the new 'Care' badge, described as a "badge of honour" for social care workers so they can get the same public recognition as NHS staff, in Downing Street, London. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

A new package of additional measures supporting care home staff and residents, as well as procedures to allow people to say goodbye to loved ones have been unveiled.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock expanded on his announcement this morning that all care home residents and staff showing symptoms of Covid-19 are set to be tested as capacity is built up.

The meeting comes after a number of Norfolk care homes bosses have said they were left to feel like “sitting ducks”, pleading with the government to prioritise testing for those in care facilities.

John Dupuis, owner and manager of Elsenham House Care Home in Cromer and Steve Dorrington, who runs three care homes in Dereham, Watton and Wells, shared the difficulties surrounding testing and protective personal equipment (PPE) for staff.

Their concerns were echoed by Daya Thayan, CEO of Kingsley Healthcare Group, based in Lowestoft, who has written to the government urging for more support to avert an “emerging crisis in social care”.

Read more: All care home residents and staff showing coronavirus symptoms to be tested, health secretary says

Kingsley Healthcare has confirmed eight residents, three at Downham Grange in King’s Lynn and five at Thorpe House in Griston have died after testing positive for the virus.

Another two deaths have been confirmed at the Britten Court Care Home in Lowestoft, bringing the total to six, following four deaths confirmed by Care UK on Tuesday.

Read more: WATCH: Lockdown restrictions unlikely to be eased region by region, government says

At the conference, Mr Hancock spoke about improving access to protective equipment and new procedures that would give people the “chance to say goodbye” to loved ones dying with coronavirus.

The Health Secretary said: “Wanting to be with someone you love at the end of their life is one of the deepest human instincts,

“I’m pleased to say that working with Public Health England, the care sector and many others, we are introducing new procedures so we can limit the risk of infection while wherever possible giving people’s closest loved ones the chance to say goodbye.”

He also announced a “badge of honour” for social care workers so they can get the same public recognition as NHS staff.

Mr Hancock said a single brand symbolising the entire profession would allow individual workers to “proudly and publicly identify themselves” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

And he said supermarkets have been asked to ensure social care workers are given the same priority access as NHS staff.

He said: “This badge will be a badge of honour in a very real sense, allowing social care staff proudly and publicly to identify themselves, just like NHS staff do with that famous blue and white logo.

“I know that many businesses will want to offer the same recognition and benefits as they do wonderfully to the NHS.”

Read more: ‘Sitting ducks’ - Norfolk’s care homes brace for impact of the coronavirus outbreak

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