North Yorkshire steps up support to stem Covid-19 outbreaks in care homes

This story was published 12 May 2020

North Yorkshire has stepped up support for the 235 care homes and extra care housing schemes across the County as they find themselves in the frontline of fighting Covid-19.

Care homes

From day one, North Yorkshire County Council and its partners have been providing practical support to care providers, including help with staffing and HR, help with safe hospital discharges, advice on infection control and a dedicated email address for advice and support:

These measures have been open to all care providers but have, inevitably, been focused on the care homes and extra care housing schemes which have outbreaks.

Now, in order to stem the rising tide of infection and deaths in care settings, the County Council, is shifting its operations to a broader approach aimed at prevention of outbreaks and, if possible, keeping homes Covid-free, as well as responding to outbreaks.

North Yorkshire is providing this new service in close partnership with the Independent Care Group (ICG), which represents most care providers in North Yorkshire, and NHS colleagues, as well as Public Health England (PHE), which is leading nationally on Covid-19, and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which is the regulator for care providers.

The Council has created new care teams to spearhead this enhanced service. From last week each home in North Yorkshire is receiving a daily call from a care home contact officer with a welfare checklist. They find out from each setting how they are coping and if they have any issues related to Covid-19 and whether they need additional support from the Council or the NHS. 

Homes experiencing problems are then supported by a care home liaison officer who will channel resources to meet requirements such as support on HR, staffing and recruitment, reducing agency usage if possible, help with sourcing PPE, infection control, zoning of care homes, cohorting of staff and residents, safe hospital discharge, clinical advice, registered manager support and more.

An unprecedented amount of work has been undertaken over the last two weeks and additional staff redeployed and trained to carry out this vital supporting role for the care sector during the current crisis. 

There is also a major effort taking place to prepare for the Government confirming its arrangements for the more widespread testing of care home residents.

“Care homes are the front line in the fight against Covid-19” said Richard Webb, North Yorkshire’s Corporate Director for Health and Adult Services. “While the number of Covid-19 deaths in hospitals is reducing, in care homes they are rising and so we have to do everything we can to save lives and prevent further outbreaks because this is about protecting loved ones, mums and dads, grandmas and grandads.

“Our teams are here to offer a supportive role to the care sector. Our daily calls are being used to escalate any concerns to get the right interventions and help.”

Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group said: “The frontline in the fight against coronavirus in North Yorkshire is now very much in the county’s care and nursing homes and where people are delivering care to vulnerable people in their own home, so the authority’s support for social care is very welcome.

“It will be very useful to have some expert advice available on a daily basis, as the frightening thing about the Covid-19 pandemic is the way things change almost on an hourly or daily basis.

“We are working together, side by side with the county council in tackling Covid-19 at this very challenging time.

“Social care staff are doing an amazing job, risking their own health and safety looking after people in care and nursing homes and in their own homes. They will welcome support from the county council and the opportunity to share their experiences and difficulties.”