By Councillor Frances Mason
Whilst the government are giving assurances around the provision of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to ensure all staff are protected in the NHS, Care Homes and in particular, private care companies, are the poor relation.
I spoke to Kovida Dahanayake who is the Director of Caremark (Harlow and Epping Forest) who had been actively raising this issue with the Quality Care Commission and Resilience Group, despite this he was struggling to source aprons and other equipment for his staff. With all PPE being directed to the NHS, the private sector, in particular Care Companies, are being left out of the equation and yet they are critical stakeholders of delivery of care in the community. Their services ensure adults with physical or learning disabilities and physical or mental illness, can remain in their home. It can include personal care, administering medication, help with eating, washing, getting dressed and shopping.
This service is a pivotal link to ensure patients can be discharged back into their home should they need hospital treatment. Currently Social Care and families are struggling to get care packages, as private Care Companies are lacking essential PPE to support their clients as well as their own employees.
Whilst concern around access to PPE is currently being prioritised to hospitals, which is understandable, there is no supply chain to those companies that are privatised.
Our social policy encourages older people to be cared within the community and they are reliant on carers coming into the home so cross contamination is an ongoing risk. These Care Companies are avidly following Government advice however the question of how this equipment is sourced remains an urgent problem without being exploited by some suppliers who are taking advantage of the current shortfall.
We need to do more to ensure these private companies are not overlooked. Care in the community helps vulnerable people remain in their homes and keeps them safe. Without the right equipment the knock on effect on adult social care and our NHS cannot be understated.