The government must give councils an extra £1.7bn this winter to tackle the impact of a Covid-inspired “reluctance” to use care homes, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has warned.
ADASS president James Bullion said it was a “necessity” rather than a “nicety” for ministers to find an extra £480m for home care and an “urgent” £1.2bn to support family carers over the coming months.
Speaking at last week’s National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCASC), Bullion said the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a “real reluctance” of people to enter care homes and an increase in the number of people who wanted to receive care at homes, while also placing “a greater onus on family carers to provide an ever-increasing proportion of that care”.
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Care Quality Commission figures from June this year showed that local authority-funded admissions to care homes were running at 72% of the previous year’s levels, whereas self-funded admissions were operating at 35% of 2019 rates.
Risk of ‘intolerable winter’
ADASS said “services would have been overwhelmed” but for the contribution of unpaid carers, however this had been at “significant cost to their health and wellbeing”. Bullion said the £1.2bn billion would provide an extra payment for those on carer’s allowance to manage the costs of winter and a “robust urgent breaks package for those most in need”, to prevent carers facing “an intolerable winter”.
The additional £480m would enable councils to invest in home care, supported living, Shared Lives and direct payments and increase capacity to discharge people from hospital, ADASS said.
Bullion said ADASS believed there was “an investment case” to be made for the money to stave off the costs of carer breakdown and an increase in hospital admissions because of a lack of care at home.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said it recognised the vital role played by unpaid carers and had provided them with a range of support, including through funding to Carers UK to extend their support helpline and additional flexibility for those receiving carer’s allowance, by enabling them to claim for providing emotional support and during temporary breaks from their role due to coronavirus.
The spokesperson also cited the funding given to local authorities to date to manage the impact of the pandemic, including £4.6bn in un-ringfenced cash and £1.1bn for adult social care specifically – mostly for care homes – to support infection control.
“We will continue to work closely with carer organisations to support them,” the spokesperson added.