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#BuildBackBetter for those in care 

Our care sector must be commended for their efforts to protect those under their responsibility, their staff included, but with 58% of Greater Manchester’s care homes feeling that they were unable to effectively isolate COVID-positive residents in their care amid other concerns about management of the virus, there is room now for us to #BuildBackBetter. The changes we make now are not just for COVID, but for the general improvement of safety and quality of life in care. 

Preparedness is the best plan of action to avoid resorting to reactive response to any future outbreaks or other concerns, and it’s time to make improvements for the future wellbeing of the entire sector. 

Let’s look at a breakdown of short-medium- and long-term solutions and how you can use them to build back better. 

Short Term Solutions 

1. Consult your community 

Conduct staff and resident surveys 

Organise one-to-one (socially distanced or virtual) consults with residents to understand individual needs and concerns 

Ask managers to run team meetings to answer questions, concerns and suggestion 

Ask staff what skills gaps they’d like to fill to futureproof their role 

 

2. Vaccine Discussion 

Minimise fear, scepticism and information surrounding vaccines with staff and residential information drop-ins online 

Remind your community about the benefits of being vaccinated 

Be transparent – we know that the vaccine is not 100% guaranteed to protect us against catching and transmitting the virus, but acknowledge its role in our ability to live with and manage the virus in the long-term

 

3. Free PPE 

The UK has purchased over 32 billion items of PPE to “armour” our people with against the pandemic  

Only around 8 billion have been distributed thus far  

As a result, there can be free provision of PPE to health and social care staff until at least June 2021, and a stockpile equivalent to approximately 120 days’ usage at COVID-19 levels in the UK will cushion any fluctuations in demand 

More than 70% of required long-term capacity for PPE (with the exception of gloves) is now manufactured in the UK, creating hundreds of jobs 

 

4. eConsult online triage 

The eConsult online triage service is rolling out across NHS GP practices around the UK and is currently live in over 3000 practices  

The service enables users to contact their GP surgery 24/7 and receive a response by the end of the next working day 

GP surgeries generally are increasing opening hours during the week and at weekends, making room for more appointments more often 

A combination of extra opening hours at local practices and eConsult triage helps increase accessibility and independence for care home residents in need of medical attention. 

 

5. Creating an outbreak action plan 

Predicting a crisis like COVID is nearly impossible, but we need to remember is that it could happen again. 

Implement safety measures into your wider care strategy for the future, such as “hands, face, space”, maintaining the Test, Trace and Isolate system, and limiting the number of non-essential people entering care facilities 

 

Mid Term Solutions 

1. Training and workforce development  

Invest in new equipment such as thermal imaging cameras and air purifiers 

Train staff to operate new technology and effectively carry out new procedures as you put them in place 

Make sure housecleaning teams receive additional support to deliver high quality decontamination and cleaning regimes 

Train leadership to manage outbreaks and operations effectively 

Ensure all staff are trained and knowledgeable about any new preventative measures you put in place against the virus and others like it.  

 

2. Recruitment and returning staff (including students) 

Invest in skills and training for returning or retaining staff  

Develop a recruitment plan to open new opportunities for healthcare students and professionals 

Explore the government Kickstart Scheme or consider Apprenticeships

 

3. Re-evaluation of facilities 

58% of Greater Manchester’s care homes alone felt that they were unable to effectively isolate COVID-positive residents in their care 

You can respond by re-evaluating your facilities and crisis management  

Invest in hygiene, aeration, open or isolated spaces that can be converted to house patients during crisis as well as socially distanced leisure facilities or activities for your residents  

 

4. Urgent care centres, paramedic rapid home visiting and mental health safe havens 

Urgent care centres make more same-day care for urgent health matters available closer to home  

Paramedic rapid home visiting servicehelp people who need a home visit to be seen earlier by a team that can look at their whole wellbeing  

GPs are part of the service but are no longer required to make every house call, which frees them up to see more patients at routine appointments and to process necessary referrals and documentation 

Mental health safe haven services are available for adults and young people at risk of mental health crisis, to be supported by professionals and their peers outside of a clinical setting 

 

Long Term Solutions 

1. Revaccination and ongoing standards for staff 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated there is “no credible route to a zero-COVID Britain nor indeed a zero-COVID world 

We can put measures in place in the hope that one day, COVID-19 transmission and infection rates will lower to a management level equivalent to any other flu, through vaccination  

The care sector must invest in a clear revaccination strategy year-on-year, possibly even considering a “no jab, no job” policy like that of Care UK 

 

2. New models of care 

New models of care have been co-designed with patients, the public and the voluntary sector and led by clinical leads and integrated care staff  

These new models have been developed to ensure they meet the needs of local people, reflect the experiences of the local workforce, and make the best use of local facilities 

The Government will also work with the social care sector to develop and set out measures that should be maintained in residential and community care settings  

This will include good practice developed during the pandemic such as PPE procedures, testing protocols, and cleaning regimes in individual care settings 

The system will be supported by local authorities and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to ensure high quality care and safe infection prevention and control procedures are maintained.

 

3. Health and wellbeing 

Feelings of loneliness and isolation have skyrocketed during the pandemic across the UK, particularly for those in care 

Use digital technology that allows residents in care to connect with friends and family, such as Facebook’s new Portal 

Increase engagement between care givers and receivers, perhaps onboarding more permanent staff dedicated to caring for smaller numbers of community residents 

Increase organised physical activity, particularly out-of-doors wherever possible 

Train mental health champions or dedicated councilors within your team  

 

Conclusion

And there you have it, our guide to building back better for the future of our care sector! While we tend to associate the pandemic with restrictions and limitations, if we implement hygienic, considerate and community focused initiatives, we can liberate the sector by helping reduce infection and transmission of COVID-19We can learn to manage and live in a world alongside the virus and improve the quality of life for those working in care and living in care as we do it. 

 

For help with skills development for your workforce, wellbeing strategy, apprenticeship enquiries or business change management, we can help. 

SMEs in Greater Manchester should register here for our fully funded support programme or contact the team on 0161 237 4444. 

Let’s #BuildBackBetter, together. 

 

The Growth Company is an award-winning, not-for-profit social enterprise with a mission to enable growth, create jobs and improve lives. We provide individuals and businesses with a wide range of services that improve employment, skills, investment and enterprise for the benefit of all, and have been working in the Greater Manchester city region for more than 30 years. 

This project receives funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.  

The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme.  

Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding. 

About the author

Skills for Growth - SME Support

Skills for Growth - SME Support

Skills for Growth - SME Support is a fully funded, tailored service to help upskills your employees and improve business productivity. We're here to help you grow your business through re-shaping, developing your talent and enhancing your team's performance.