Sheffield care home boss says social care sector on 'cliff edge' without Government help

Credit: PA

A care home boss has said she fears they are facing a "three-wave tsunami" that could destroy the social care sector unless the Government steps in to help.

Nicola Richards, director of Palms Row Health Care in Sheffield, said the sector is "on a cliff edge", with homes across the UK facing closure as they spend an extra £38.6 million per week on Covid-19 costs.

Ms Richards said 18 residents have died in outbreaks at two of her three homes, and 60 residents have tested positive.

Local authorities have been given more than £3 billion to support services such care homes, but Ms Richards said she has not received any money so far to cover her extra costs, which include staffing and PPE.

The manager said the sector is at risk unless the money is ring-fenced for care homes and assurances are given regarding continued funding despite a fall in occupancy in many homes as a result of coronavirus.

She also said the Government should publish a long-overdue green paper on social care. Ms Richards said:

Ms Richards said Sheffield City Council has offered a 5% uplift in funding to care homes to cover Covid-19 costs, but Care England had recommended 15%.

She said local authorities have claimed there is a funding gap between what is needed and what has been provided by the Government.

She added that closures of care homes would lead to a shortage of beds and a greater demand on the NHS, potentially before a second wave of coronavirus.

She said: "While care homes are fighting for residents' lives, we are being abandoned by the authorities who have for too long seen us as a Cinderella service."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said:

The Government is working around the clock to make sure the adult social care sector in England is getting the support they need to tackle the pandemic on the frontline and continue to deliver quality care to our most vulnerable.

"We have launched a comprehensive action plan and provided £3.2 billion to local authorities to help them deal with the impacts of the pandemic on public services, including adult social care."