On Tuesday 17 November, Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, asked the Department for Health and Social Care to ensure that visits to care homes resume as soon as possible in a Covid-secure manner. Sir David also asked the Department what provisions they have put in place to protect care home residents, who tend to be more vulnerable, during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Sir David asked “what steps his Department is taking to protect care home residents during the covid-19 outbreak”.
Helen Whately replied “Sadly, Covid is cruel to care home residents, and outbreaks are hard to prevent and control, especially when Covid rates are high in the surrounding community. As we set out in our winter plan for adult social care, we have a regime of regular testing for staff and residents, we are supplying personal protective equipment to care homes, we have been offering training in infection prevention and control, backed up by Care Quality Commission inspections, and we are providing £1.1 billion to social care specifically to go towards the cost of infection prevention and control”.
Sir David added “I know that my hon. Friend has already touched on this subject, but she will be aware that since April, many people have not been able to visit relatives and loved ones in care homes, so will she please tell the House again what is being done to improve testing and to roll out the flu vaccine to ensure that these visits can resume safely after the latest lockdown?”
Helen Whately replied “My hon. Friend is a great advocate for the care sector - for those who receive care and for the workforce - in Southend West. Yesterday we launched a trial of visitor testing, and we plan to offer this to care homes across the country during December. On his question about flu vaccinations, this year we are carrying out the biggest ever flu vaccination programme. So far, the majority of care home residents have been vaccinated, but there is further to go for care staff, and I urge any careworker who has yet to have their flu jab to ensure that they get it over the next few weeks”.