A satellite Covid-19 testing site to serve North Yorkshire’s care homes in the east of the county started operation from Scarborough last Friday with the provision of up to 500 testing swabs a day.
This marks a significant step forward in the fight against Covid-19 in the county’s care settings to improve radically the speed and quantity of testing and turnaround in results. It complements testing provision for care settings in the western side of North Yorkshire which already operates from a satellite site in Bradford.
The Scarborough testing site was negotiated and agreed with the Department for Health and Social Care by the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, a multi-agency task force which represents the county’s first responders.
Richard Flinton, chair of the NYLRF and North Yorkshire County Council’s Chief Executive said: “From the outset we have been vigilant to the threat of Covid-19 in the care sector and have been working closely with the sector and with partners to contain outbreaks of the virus as well as supporting the NHS and our hospitals. We hope that this will be a step forward in speeding up and managing the testing operation so that we can track and contain the virus with greatest effect and efficiency.”
This latest development follows major changes to the county council’s social care services and a whole raft of measures for care settings undertaken in partnership with the care sector (supported by the Independent Care Group umbrella organisation), along with the Care Quality Commission and the NHS, to tackle the impact of the virus and to keep people safe and well.
Mike Padgham, Chair of the Independent Care Group and Managing Director of social care provider St Cecilia’s in Scarborough said: “The setting up of the satellite testing station for the sector in Scarborough is extremely welcome and a big step forward in the fight against the virus. The joint working with the county council is invaluable for care providers as we tackle the impact of coronavirus.
“It is sometimes a challenge to explain the measures we are taking as care providers but our aim has always been to do our best for our own residents and staff and to play our part in supporting our hospitals and caring for those with Covid-19 in this area.”
Richard Webb, the county council’s Director of Health and Adult Services, said: ““The care sector in North Yorkshire employs 17,000 people whose work is fundamental to meeting the challenges of Covid-19 and to keeping people safe and well looked after. We owe a great debt of gratitude to all that the county’s care homes, home care and other care providers are doing right now and we are working very closely with them to track and manage the virus and people’s well-being.
“As well as offering advice and support for all providers the County Council, along with Public Health England, the NHS and the Care Quality Commission are working closely with care homes that have people with either Covid-19 symptoms or diagnoses. Other care providers have also rallied around to provide mutual aid and the county’s Independent Care Group (ICG) is working with its members to give additional help.
“Support includes trying to help cover staffing absences, training, infection control, zoning homes to protect people from Covid-19 and pushing for supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as helping to implement national guidance on safe practice.”
Measures taken by the county council, NHS partners and the care sector since the outbreak of Covid-19 in North Yorkshire include:
- Each home in North Yorkshire receiving a daily call from a county council care home contact officer with a welfare checklist. Homes experiencing problems are supported by a care home liaison officer who channels resources to meet requirements such as support on HR, staffing and recruitment, 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;
- Stepping up support to the care sector, putting in place a 7 day/week response team within the county council’s Quality & Monitoring Service;
- Establishing a daily Gold Group between the Chief Nurses of the 3 NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, Adult Social Care Assistant Directors and the North Yorkshire Director of Public Health and Public Health Consultants to review care home hotspots and to target assistance, interventions and support (including PPE and testing)
- Commissioning additional bed capacity from independent sector providers to provide additional beds for people who might need them, either in response to Covid or for other urgent reasons; and to provide “quarantine” beds, around the County, for people whose Covid status has not been confirmed
- Following Government guidance at all times and taking a careful and considered approach to risk: on care homes, on homecare and on use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).