The Government has announced increased funding to help the social care sector address staffing issues and to boost testing for Covid-19.
It comes after care homes in England recently saw a 46% increase in Covid-19 related deaths, the highest level since mid-May. More than 25,000 people have died from Covid-19 in care homes across the UK since the start of the pandemic, according to the Office of National Statistics.
The new £120 million fund for local authorities can provide additional care staff where shortages arise, support administrative tasks so experienced and skilled staff can focus on providing care and help existing staff to take on additional hours if they wish with overtime payments or by covering childcare costs.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "This funding will bolster staffing numbers in a controlled and safe way, whilst ensuring people continue to receive the highest quality of care.
"Help is on the way with the offer of a vaccine, with over 40% of elderly care home residents having already received their first dose."
Increasing staff testing in care homes
A £149 million grant system to support increased testing in care homes has also been announced and is ringfenced for lateral flow device testing in adult social care.
The Government says that increased staff testing remains a critical part in reducing Covid-19 transmission. Care homes currently have access to three tests per week for their staff, with daily testing for seven days in the event of a positive case to protect staff and residents.
Care homes will have additional lateral flow devices to test individuals working in more than one setting before the start of every shift.
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, said: "We want to work with the department to ensure the staff capacity fund delivers to the front line and is suitably flexible to reflect the crisis whereby providers are struggling with staff illness and absenteeism in the same way as their colleagues in the NHS are.
"Staff are our most precious resource and we want to do all that we can to support them especially in these incredibly difficult times."
Around 40% of people aged 80 and over and a quarter of older care home residents have now received their first vaccine dose. By the end of next week the Government aims to have offered a jab to all care home residents and staff.