Protecting adult care services now and in the future

Published: 06 May 2020

Hertfordshire County Council in collaboration with NHS and Public Health partners, has agreed a comprehensive plan of action to further prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 as well as increase testing in its adult care homes and the wider care community.

By its very nature, the majority of people in residential and nursing care homes in Hertfordshire are; over 85, already in need of significant care and support, with some at the end of their lives. This puts them at a greater risk if they do contract the virus.

The county council has already worked with care home providers to proactively implement actions to help stop the spread of this virus. This includes a testing programme, led by Public Health England, across Hertfordshire to increase the number of health and care staff who are available to work. This is aimed at alleviating considerable pressures on the services caused by high numbers of staff being absent with suggestive COVID-19 symptoms or self-isolating due to a household member having symptoms. This is also important to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus within care homes.

A comprehensive testing programme for care home residents is also being implemented to ensure homes can quickly identify residents and staff members who have Covid-19, even if they are not exhibiting symptoms. We can then isolate them comfortably in their room and care for them appropriately.

NHS colleagues are providing extra infection control training for care homes with additional nursing staff deployed to support this work.

The county council and NHS partners are, wherever possible, using NHS facilities and other temporary accommodation to care for residents who have spent some time in hospital before returning to their care homes.

Richard Roberts, Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Health, said: “The safety of our staff and residents is of paramount importance to us at Hertfordshire County Council. As a lead commissioner, we want to provide an environment which enables our care sector to continue to thrive during and after this pandemic.

“We have put this plan in place with our health care partners to ensure we are targeting the main areas of concern during this outbreak. We understand we not only need to do the right thing by our 20,000 elderly residents, but also for our care workers who are the caring lifeline that is just indispensable.”

Six weeks ago the county council wrote to its care providers setting out a comprehensive financial package to support providers with extra costs and risks associated with the pandemic, and has worked with the Hertfordshire Care Provider’s Association, to introduce a dedicated helpline, website and daily emails to ensure everyone is up to date on the latest advice and guidance.