Hospital discharges hampered amid rise in Covid care home outbreaks

Norfolk NHS staff sickness rates

Pressure on social care is making it harder to discharge people from Norfolk's hospitals. - Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

A combination of rising coronavirus cases in Norfolk care homes and staff sickness is heaping pressure on the county's social care system.

And council leaders say that is making it harder to get people discharged from hospital beds, because it is increasingly difficult to find them adequate care provision.

Norfolk County Council is trying to cope with 120 cases per week of getting people home from hospital or helping move them into other care.

Bill Borrett, the Conservative cabinet member responsible, said that was 80pc higher than rates before the pandemic.

Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for adult social care, Bill Borrett, who is the Conservative

Bill Borrett, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for adult social care. - Credit: Matthew Usher

He told a meeting of the council's cabinet on Wednesday (January 12) it was becoming "increasingly difficult" to find places for those people to go.

He said: "Homecare agencies, care homes and day services are experiencing high sickness levels and high numbers of staff having to self-isolate.

"This means they cannot take as many new referrals as we would like, as it is simply not safe for them to do so."

He said cases in care homes were increasing - up from 70 last week to nearly 100 this week. Care home visits have to stop during outbreaks.

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Mr Borrett said: "This means those homes cannot accept any new people, nor can people move out, on a temporary stay, back to their home."

He said the council's in-house service Norfolk First Support was stepping in to fill home care gaps where possible.

Mr Borrett said extra beds and 1,500 hours a week of extra home care had been commissioned, while staff were in hospitals to smooth the discharge process.

He said it was an "unprecedented" situation, but that people with urgent needs should still contact the council.

He warned it would lead to a backlog of need, which will need to be dealt with through a recovery plan.

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

But Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group. said: "This is a shocking admission of a failure to plan for emergencies. It's particularly shocking as it had been foreseen and the shortcomings were obvious from the first lockdown.

"Clearly no lessons have been learned or acted on. Covid is not of the council's making but the poor response to the crisis of care is down to councillor Borrett's failure."

£6.3m social care partnership with consultants agreed

A consultancy firm is to be brought in by Norfolk County Council - and paid more than £6m - to help transform the way Norfolk looks after vulnerable people.

The council's Conservative-controlled cabinet agreed to bring in Newton Europe as strategic partners to assist County Hall's own staff in changing how adult social care is provided.

The authority believes this could save £55m over five years, but council leaders and bosses said it would also mean a better, more joined-up service, for people.

James Bullion, executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council.

James Bullion, executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

James Bullion, director of adult social care, said a focus on prevention would mean people's potential needs are identified sooner, helping them retain their independence for longer.

He said it would "change the culture", give people single points of contact and connect better with NHS services.

He said it was not about reducing levels of service and was a "reasonable cost" to bring about benefits.

But Brenda Jones, Labour spokesperson for adult social care, said: "The language about integration, partnership and self management are all things that should have been done before and don’t need £6.3m in consultancy fees."

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