Social workers warned to prepare for longer home care visits and ‘extra admin’ as coronavirus spreads

Crisis planning in social care sector underway as coronavirus (COVID-19) cases rise in the UK

Care worker speaking to older person

Social workers must brace themselves for extra administrative work and the need to arrange longer home care vists as the UK prepares for a widespread coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, a sector leader has warned.

As at 9am today (9 March), 319 people in the UK had tested positive for COVID-19, with the most cases – at least 61 – in London.

About coronavirus

Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Government advice is for people who have travelled from Iran, Hubei in China, lockdown areas in northern Italy and Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea in the past fortnight to stay indoors and avoid contact with others, even if they do not have symptoms. People who have travelled from these and a number of other countries, including the rest of China, Italy or South Korea, should self-isolate if they have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath.

Find out more on the government’s website.

Longer home care visits and more admin

As confirmed cases rise, the United Kingdom Homecare Association’s (UKHCA) policy director, Colin Angel, said it was important for social workers to understand that home care visits could take “well longer than the usual expected time while dealing with people who are unwell”.

He added social workers and other council staff would also be dealing with considerable extra administration as a result of the need to reorganise visits to people’s homes and reallocate care workers.

“People are likely to receive the most responsive support if a greater degree of flexibility is exercised over the organisation and prioritisation of care visits.

“This will require the right degree of trust between commissioners and providers,” Angel said.

He said the situation was “potentially extremely serious”, particularly in regard to having sufficient staff to support older and disabled people in community settings.

More agency staff and telephone-based reviews

Beverley Latania, co-chair of the Adult Principal Social Worker Network, said that, amid government predictions for the virus to spread significantly, “crisis planning including an increased use of agency staff, use of telephone to assess or review citizens and partnership approaches with colleagues from health are being considered” by local authorities.

Local authority staff have been informed of the latest government guidance via newsletters, emails and posters, she added.

Meanwhile, the Care Provider Alliance (CPA), which represents the ten major care provider umbrella bodies, said it was “actively feeding in questions from providers to [the Department of Health and Social Care] and working with senior officials to address the issues pertinent to care providers”.

The alliance said it was working extensively with care providers in England to ensure best practice guidance on the prevention and control of infection in care settings was shared as it was updated.

Concerns for care staff

The government has also announced that its forthcoming emergency bill for dealing with the virus would enable skilled or experienced social care volunteers to be able to do additional work for the sector for up to four weeks without losing their jobs.

It would also make sick pay available to employees who have to stay at home from day one of any such period, rather than day four.

UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea expressed concern for care workers and urged employers to follow government advice and pay workers who think they’ve come into contact with the virus and were consequently self-isolating.

“There shouldn’t be circumstances where care workers doing the right thing and self-isolating lose out financially. Care workers shouldn’t have to choose between the frying pan and the fire, between losing pay or keeping themselves and the people they look after safe,” McAnea said.

The government has estimated that, in the worst-case scenario, nearly 20% of British employees could be off work at one time.

Increased demand and fewer staff

Ian Hudspeth, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board (LGA), said the demand for adult social care could rise due to increased illness while capacity would reduce as social care staff fall ill themselves.

“This could be further impacted by hospitals needing to discharge people even sooner than at present owing to the pressures on them, as well as other factors such as school closures or transport restrictions.”

He added: “Council staff continue to work day and night to support national efforts to contain the virus and minimise the spread of infection.”

Julie Ogley, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), sought to reassure care providers and service users.

“The ongoing coverage of the coronavirus outbreak can be distressing, particularly for those of us who are older or disabled or provide care and support.

“However, we want to reassure anybody concerned that we are working closely with partner agencies and organisations to ensure that our members are properly prepared to deal with any cases,” Ogley said.

26 Responses to Social workers warned to prepare for longer home care visits and ‘extra admin’ as coronavirus spreads

  1. Peter Ward March 10, 2020 at 7:31 am #

    Don’t be ridiculous sw already work very long hours with mountains of admin.

    • Sugar top March 15, 2020 at 1:48 pm #

      Hi,
      Can I just make clear the difference which TV etc don’t seem to be doing- there are Social Care workers/ givers who have to go to people to provide care and do long hours, (contracted by tender via council) and there are Social Workers – government Social Work assessing teams who assess for care and the needs of vulnerable people who cannot refuse to visit people in the public in whatever condition or environment – have no hand sanitisers etc, and a mountain of paperwork!

  2. Not My Real Name March 10, 2020 at 9:14 am #

    “capacity would reduce as social care staff fall ill themselves”

    Seeing as how we all hot desk from an office with no cleaner that seems a certainty.

  3. A Man Called Horse March 10, 2020 at 6:20 pm #

    This indeed could play out very badly for patients needing care at home following discharge from hospital. It is entirely possible that Social Workers and carers could also contact the virus making the situation much worse. The fear factor may also mean that carers feeling fearful of contacting the virus don’t turn up for work leaving vulnerable adults without support services. Since the extended family in the uk is weak say compared with Italy and China this could cause a potentially dangerous situation to unfold. Many Social Workers like me will put their own health on the line to do our duty as long as we are safe to work. The risk for all social care staff being exposed to the virus is high, we simply cannot know yet how this will unfold but it looks like a perfect storm is coming.

    • Jenny Southern March 13, 2020 at 10:50 am #

      The blasé calm before this storm is built on the facts that many SW’s will go far and beyond what’s expected of them and for this reason will be exploited. Ms Latina idea of using more agency staff is marvellous lots more locums to exploit eh?

  4. Isaac Nanabanyin Crentsil March 11, 2020 at 6:31 am #

    As the country is recording more of the cases, besides the aforementioned directives I also add the following recommendations;
    More social Workers to be recruited to augment the efforts of existing ones.
    There must be a strong collaborative work of all sister agencies to tackle the neck of the virus.
    More training to be done on emerging strategies to deal with the menace of the disease.
    And lastly there must be a cross national sharing of ideas on how other nations affected with the disease are dealing with it.

  5. Not My Real Name March 11, 2020 at 8:41 am #

    At present we have no advice for if a service user contracts the virus but doesn’t need hospital admission. The chain of potential infections from each care call would be very long, and include lots of high risk patients. However, we don’t have the staff to quarantine entire care teams or to give people their own small group of carers.

    According to the BBC the plan is to train volunteers over the Easter holidays, but his does rather suggest people don’t really know what care work actually is. It’s not just making people cups of tea and buying them pints of milk.

    • P J HARDEN . March 11, 2020 at 4:26 pm #

      i agree with not my real name about training volunteers and what about the criminal checks that need to be done .they cant just say yes we will have X amount of volunteers THEY MUST HAVE TRAINING AND BE CHECKED FIRST .

      • Not My Real Name March 12, 2020 at 11:44 am #

        They also need to be prepared for the risks involved. Most of the volunteers we use are retired and in a high risk category themselves.

  6. dunda March 11, 2020 at 4:20 pm #

    It is not social workers who commission limited the time frame for package of care. It is often the managers, finance and contracts and the care agency themselves are to be blamed. barking under the wrong tree basically.

  7. Social worker no2 March 11, 2020 at 7:30 pm #

    In my area we struggle to get poc as it is increased call times would not be able to be facilitated as the agancies do not have the staff. Care homes are starting to go on lockdown not excepting new residence or offer respite beds. We are social worker already over stretched not miracle workers.

  8. Not My Real Name March 12, 2020 at 11:50 am #

    The problem social care has is that unlike the NHS it is not one system. Despite it’s myriad problems the NHS is essentially under the control of one body. If they are told to do X, Y and Z, that’s what they do.

    In social care we have to deal with each care agency and care home individually. They can each pick and choose who they take, and if they put themselves in ‘lockdown’ we can’t stop that. Seriously, I don’t know how we’re going to discharge patients if things get difficult.

  9. Jenny Southern March 13, 2020 at 9:45 am #

    My GP told me to stay home yesterday after I started to get a fever and runny nose . Got home to antibiotics waiting for me last night. My manager called telling me that “you’re on duty today and all of next week so sorry you be paid” and “you don’t need to self isolate because the virus is a dry cough go read up about it” Offered to work from home this person reinforced I will not be paid as it sets a president” Is the president that SW’s who feel grotty should just carry on working ,spread it about to as many colleagues and vulnerable families as possible. This government is infuriating as no clear guidelines and the guidelines that are in place are blurred or is this just the
    the joy of being a locum social worker ? The Disposable Work Force ?

  10. Jim March 13, 2020 at 1:20 pm #

    Lets hear from the social work Reg bodies in the UK to tell social workers that due to the expected increased demand upon their workloads and absence of many staff that CPD points will not be audited or required this year until things return to normal.

    How come they are saying nothing yet?

  11. GErry March 15, 2020 at 8:48 pm #

    my family member who is a community care worker takes perscribed methotrexate for their skin condition..
    I know the meds can compromise the immune system ??
    Whom do they need to advise report this to ???

    Thank you

  12. Coordinator March 16, 2020 at 10:19 pm #

    The big problems in the community for care providers will be when the schools close we will lose 60% of our workforce as mothers will need to stay at home to look after their children

  13. Worriedmum March 18, 2020 at 11:51 am #

    My daughter is a care worker and yesterday one of her clients was told to self isolate as he had 2 of the symptoms of cronavirus and although the care agency she works with were aware of the situation this information was not passed onto her.(this was not a regular call as she was covering for another carer so she did not know the details of the call until she had checked out his folder that was inside the property). As she was on the phone to the care company at the time asking for masks they told her that they would put her on hold but she overheard the operator asking management staff if they should tell her about his situation or the self isolation. She did not have masks at the time and refused to make the call without them but surely they should have told her about this before she entered the property. Don’t the care companies have a legal right to keep the carers as safe as possible

  14. Worried community carer March 20, 2020 at 7:23 am #

    There should be better benefits or pay for care workers out in the community (as I am) at the best of times but during this pandemic even more so. Unfortunately carers as so underestimated. Little PPE is available for us during this panic with shortages. We are also at the front line and have been commented to be super spreaders which I understand. I have a family at home and look after only the vulnerable at work. I will only receive SSP if I have to self isolate and also a single parent! I am far from the only one and the government needs to look at this more closely with more financial help during these difficult times.

  15. J March 21, 2020 at 1:28 pm #

    No statement on how our leadership intends to safeguard their staffs safety against infection. Nothing on PPe or guidance on home visits. You are asking us to work more, harder at with significant risk to our health and that of our families. We won’t mention pay for this extra risk…

    Also what about AMHP, how can they suitably interview an isolated person. Conveyance times have been stripped, are you supporting that an AMHP may have to to stay with P for 12+ hours.

    Phone interviews are not appropriate for all cases. I would find it hard to complete a home vist for somone if I believe they are isosliting without appropriate protection and testing for myself afterwards. I have me and loved ones to protect. It’s not selfish, it’s right until leadership address such concerns.

  16. J Ormerod April 5, 2020 at 11:15 pm #

    Care workers are being sent from household to household to care for elderly disabled & sick. We are told not to interact with anyone outside your OWN HOUSEHOLD, how does that work then? How many carers are spreading the desease? Then taking it back to their own household as well as the people they come into contact with inbetween visits & shopping on way home. + Don’t get death in service benefits.

  17. Audrey crossland April 7, 2020 at 11:35 pm #

    I work in the community doing food shops etc with clients who come out with me, should I be saying I will go alone, also I have clients with learning disabilities who have support in the community and they are going out and about all the time, they have been given a company letter to say they can go out by care provider but surely that does not mean they can go out to do stuff that’s not essential. Eg bus rides, collecting wood etc. Advice needed

  18. dave April 8, 2020 at 7:29 am #

    I cant understand about the cross infection you go see Bert who tested positive yesterday in hospital told to quarantine for 14 you wear gloves mask and apron loos the ppe at Berts then merrily drive to Shirley who doesn’t have it, the covid 19 could be Attached anywhere on your uniform what don’t these people understand this is so dangerous

  19. Sandra April 8, 2020 at 6:00 pm #

    I work in a care home and we are still taking in resident we wee told that we had to take them from nhs and the government is this true

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