Protective equipment for social care staff ‘woefully inadequate’ and does not ‘even scratch the surface’

Supplies of protective equipment for care workers are “woefully inadequate” and the social care sector needs further, faster support, a charity said.

Mark Adams, chief executive of social care charity Community Integrated Care, called on the Government to fund the sector’s “endless, necessary attempts” to protect those receiving and delivering care.

Current deliveries by the Government of protective masks do not “even scratch the surface of the required supply”, he said.

The charity has a workforce of around 6,500 staff who support thousands of people with learning disabilities, autism, mental health concerns and dementia.

Mr Adams (pictured) told the PA news agency: “They can only do that job with the right support.

“Care providers have worked tirelessly to independently source adequate levels of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline services, at great difficulty.

“Whilst some Government support has been offered via Public Health England in recent weeks, we need this to go much further, much faster.

“If a care service experiences a breakout, it is essential they have everything at their disposal necessary to not only protect the health of the people they support but also their workforce too.

“Whilst a weekly delivery of 300 masks from the Department of Health and Social Care to care services might sound generous, in reality it is woefully inadequate for any large care home.

“We also need to appreciate that masks alone do not offer the protection that is required in an outbreak.

“Frontline care services need immediate access to the full suite of PPE, such as eye protection, hand sanitiser and protective gowns, so they can safely manage the threat of outbreaks, and right now that is not being delivered.”

Mr Adams said a large care home dealing with an outbreak of Covid-19 could get through more than 1,000 masks a day and similar numbers of gloves.

He added: “We are doing everything in our power to fight against the potential impact of this crisis and to keep people safe and well, and that comes at a significant cost.

“We need the assurance from Government that they will give us the financial backing to fully cover our endless, necessary attempts to protect the people we support.”

Robert Kilgour, chairman of Scottish care home operator Renaissance Care, said care home staff were feeling like “second-class carers” amid a growing shortage of PPE.

He said: “There has been a huge increase in the cost of PPE and increasingly long delays in their delivery, especially face masks.

“There have also been instances of equipment ordered by care homes being diverted to the NHS.

“The impact on the morale of care staff of PPE shortages and the increasing number of residents with Covid-19 symptoms in care homes has been massive.

“Our brave and hardworking care staff deserve and need our full support and appreciation.”

Doctors and nurses working for the Sue Ryder palliative care charity have just several days worth of PPE remaining – a situation it called “critical”.

Heidi Travis, Sue Ryder chief executive, said: “This means that Sue Ryder will soon be unable to protect our doctors and nurses from contracting the virus.

“We will not put our staff at risk and so this will lead to staff shortages at a time when they are needed more than ever before.

“If we are to protect our staff against the spread of Covid-19 and continue to care for patients who are dying, in turn supporting the NHS, an immediate solution is needed.”

She added: “We are willing participants in the coronavirus effort. We want to use our skills, expertise and experience to help in the months ahead, but this will simply not be possible if we cannot access the equipment needed to protect our staff.”

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