Extended support for adult social care
The Fund has been extended and receives an additional £546m from the Government (bringing the total funding to £1.146 billion).
The Government issued guidance on this on 1 October, see here, ( “Guidance”) and we set out the key features, below.
When will local authorities receive the funding?
The funding will be paid to local authorities on 1 October and December 2020. The Government's guidance is that the funding should be allocated on an 80%/20% split between “per beds/per user” (to care homes and community care providers) and the remaining 20% for “other care settings and infection control measures” (discretionary basis).
The Guidance states that once a local authority has received the funding it should take no longer than 20 working days (subject to providers meeting the required conditions as set out in the local authority circular, see here).
What can the funding be used for?
The funding can be allocated for the continuation of infection control measures already in place (if in line with the Government’s measures, see here) and includes providers without a contract with their local council.
The Government has provided a non-exhaustive list of how providers can spend the funding, see here, but includes, for the 80% for the residential and community settings:
- paying wages of staff members who are self-isolating due to suspected Covid-19 symptoms (including if awaiting a test/a member of their household is awaiting a test, or if a member of their household is self-isolating);
- steps to limit the movement of staff between different locations (including staff who work at multiple locations for the same provider, part time staff and agency staff);
- steps to limit different staff providing care for different service users in the community;
- arranging for staff working with particular residents or areas within a care setting only - to limit mixing of staff;
- supporting recruitment of additional staff and volunteers;
- providing staff accommodation for those staff members choosing to segregate away from their family;
- supporting safe visiting in care homes; and
- costs of staff wages whilst they need to be tested (or even for a vaccine, in the future) and any costs associated with transport to a test centre,
and for the 20% allocation, including:
- providing support for infection control measures e.g. community and day support services, carers support services, the voluntary sector and other non-CQC regulated residential settings;
- staff wages in order for them to attend to be vaccinated against the flu virus; and
- measures put in place by local authorities to boost the resilience and supply of the workforce to support infection control.
The Guidance is clear that the funding is only to support providers with infection control measures and should not be used to support, for example:
- providers to pay staff who are absent due to sickness (other than Covid-19 related), if they are furloughed or shielding;
- the costs of purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) from the 80% allocation (but local authorities may use the remaining 20% allocation for this); or
- other financial pressures that providers are facing.
The funding also cannot be applied retrospectively but only to expenditure incurred by providers on or after 1 October 2020.
What do you need to do as a provider?
There are specific reporting requirements depending on whether you are a care home or community care provider and these must be adhered to until 31 March 2021, as follows:
- care homes – required to complete the NHS “Capacity Tracker” at least twice (in two consecutive weeks) and commit to completing at least once a week; and
- community care – required to complete the Care Quality Commission (CQC) homecare survey at least twice (in two consecutive weeks) and commit to completing at least once a week. If you as a provider do not have access to this – then this condition does not apply (until such time that you do have access).
What does this mean for the sector?
Whilst the extension of the support will be welcomed we will see how this is received on the ground, once allocated, and whether this really goes far enough.
There are so many challenges facing this already pre-pandemic stretched sector. Whilst we have seen providers being hugely resourceful in creating innovative solutions to these challenges (including those relating to visitation); there is ultimately a long way to go for the government to effectively support this sector. Until there is proper government guidance and an effective test and trace system in place (and ultimately a vaccine) there is still a huge amount of uncertainty for and burden on providers.