Paula Beaney, Quality Assurance Director at Promedica24
It has been over ten months since late January when the media reported about the first COVID-19 case in the UK. Ten months which changed everything – the way we live, work, interact with each other and provide care and support to those who need it.
As health and care professionals, we have been on the frontline since the beginning, and the pandemic has shaken our world. It has affected all aspects of our lives and profession, causing a shift in priorities and highlighting the vulnerabilities of the health and care sector. One thing has remained unchanged; the dedication and commitment of health and care workers to save lives and provide support and relief. Care professionals have been rightly applauded for their unshaken attitude and determination to help, whether it be in hospitals, residential care homes or individual houses. However, the last ten months have also delivered many lessons for the care profession and society as a whole.
Despite the best efforts of care and management teams, the first wave took its toll on care homes, proving the extreme difficulty in limiting the spread of the infection in a residential setting. Due to the lack of accurate testing, shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), and a misjudged decision to discharge COVID-19 positive people into care homes, thousands of older and most vulnerable people have lost their lives to a virus which they otherwise may not have been exposed to.
Having witnessed the dramatic situation in care homes during the first wave of the pandemic, Promedica24 decided to start an informative campaign on a national level. We called for an urgent debate about the UK’s care system and urged the public and authorities to carefully evaluate the various care options available, so that we can prioritise those services which deliver safe, effective and high-quality care whilst decreasing the spread of the pandemic.
Our campaign has been designed to increase public awareness of the care options available to vulnerable individuals and their families. The vast majority of the people we have spoken with, including local authority representatives that are in charge of commissioning care in the community, do not know that one to one care can be provided in the comfort of a person’s home by a highly skilled and fully trained live-in carer. Those who know about the live-in care option, wrongly assume that the cost is significantly higher than paying for residential care. This is simply incorrect – the cost of live-in care is similar, and often lower, than the cost of a nursing bed within a care home. The carers stay with the client, supporting them with day to day activities, personal care and hygiene, stimulating mental and physical health and providing companionship.
As the largest European live-in care provider, we are in a unique position to witness first-hand how different countries and their care systems manage the fight with COVID- 19. In Germany, high level of live-in care services provided have enabled a higher number of people to self-isolate with their carer in the comfort of their own homes rather than at care homes. This has ultimately limited the spread of the infection amongst the most vulnerable groups and decreased the number of potential victims.
Since the onset of the first media reports about the pandemic in care homes, we have noticed a steadily growing interest in live-in care services. Concerned families are increasingly looking for safe and sustainable care solutions which meet the physical and emotional needs of older and vulnerable people whilst significantly reducing the risk of infection. As the country fights the second wave of the pandemic, we continue our efforts in raising awareness about live-in care. Patients and their loved ones have the right to easily accessible information about all care options available, to help them make the best decision for themselves and their families.
Local Authorities, Health and Social Care Regulators and providers need to work together and support each other to provide the best care to people who need it. What we must not do is to lose ourselves in COVID19 bureaucracy and fear “repercussions” from government departments during these unprecedented times. We must continue to focus on delivering high quality care in the safest way possible. Live-in care is and remains the safest option for people needing support at home.