Leading charities have demanded the Government urgently supports social care through the pandemic as they have 'been appalled by the devastation which coronavirus is causing in the care system.'
In a letter to Matt Hancock, they say they are writing together as charity and care sector leaders on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable people reliant on social care and the hundreds dying in care homes, supported by an army of incredible, often low paid and undervalued care workers who are not trained to deal with death on this scale.
The letter has been signed by Kate Lee, CEO, Alzheimer’s Society, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive, Marie Curie, Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK, Professor Martin Green, CEO, Care England and Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive, Independent Age.
They said they have all been inundated with desperate calls from the people they support and the Government must step in and make it clear that no-one will be abandoned to this virus simply because of their age, condition or where they live.
The letter added: "Older people’s lives are not worth less. Care home staff are not second class carers."
Daily update on coronavirus deaths in the care system is essential
They said that a comprehensive care package must include:
- PPE equipment readily available to care homes. Without it, all residents’ lives are at risk
- Care home staff, and people being discharged from hospital into care homes, given priority testing, alongside critical NHS staff
- Support to ensure contact can be maintained between care home residents and their families
- Good palliative and end-of-life care for people dying in the care system
- A daily update on coronavirus deaths in the care system, just like deaths in the NHS, so that as a society we can understand the scale of the challenge we face.
Care England estimates that there have been nearly a thousand deaths already, yet deaths from coronavirus in care homes are not being officially recorded or published, social care is the neglected frontline.
The letter added: "Instead of being allowed hospital care, to see their loved ones and to have the reassurance that testing allows; and for the staff who care for them to have even the most basic of PPE, they are told they cannot go to hospital, routinely asked to sign Do Not Resuscitate orders, and cut off from their families when they need them most.
"A lack of protective equipment means staff are putting their own lives at risk while also carrying the virus to highly vulnerable groups. Care professionals that have this equipment are using it in line with the guidelines - there’s just not enough getting through to the frontline."