Some 27% of social services directors said patients were discharged to providers where there wasn’t sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), a survey has found.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), which asked its members about the rapid discharge of patients to the community in March to free up hospital beds, also found that 24% said patients had been taken to settings where they couldn’t self-isolate amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Ill-equipped and under-resourced”
Adass president James Bullion said thousands of people “lost their lives prematurely in social care” because the sector was “ill-equipped and under-resourced” to deal with the pandemic.
Directors also believe a lack of testing during this period could have accelerated the speed of coronavirus spreading in care settings. The report said:
Given what we know about the spread of Covid-19 in care home settings in particular, it is obviously greatly concerning that untested individuals were potentially discharged to settings that had insufficient PPE and also to where a suspected Covid-19 positive individual could not isolate safely.
Concerns remain about the availability and frequency of testing for people receiving social care, unpaid carers and personal assistants, Adass said.
Bullion said a key lesson was that “emptying acute hospital beds without considering the impact on social care can have huge consequences”. He also added that there had been no “wilful intention” to take the infection to care homes. He continued:
A focus on rapid discharge when there were shortages of PPE, questions about testing and the ability to isolate people in social care meant that some people ended up in the wrong place to meet their needs and with insufficient community support or reablement to help them get home. We must change our approach.
A report by NHS Providers in May said suggestions that NHS trusts knowingly and systematically discharged coronavirus patients into care homes to free up beds were “damaging and mistaken”. Trust leaders told the membership body they consistently followed government guidance and only discharged known or suspected coronavirus patients if care homes had capacity to safely care for them.
Increase in unmet needs and lack of mental health services
Some 146 out of 151 directors of social services in England responded to the Adass survey between 1-22 May. Directors estimated nearly a quarter (22%) of those discharged during the rapid discharge period did not go to the most appropriate setting for their needs. It comes as the number of people needing help from social services has risen, which Adass said was due to the temporary closure of some services and “understandable” concerns from providers about accepting new people.
Almost a quarter of directors said that unmet needs in their area had increased by 1% to 5%. Some 40% believe there are not sufficient mental health services in their area, while 30% believe this to be the case for local substance misuse services. Bullion said services need more government funding “if we are not to face a tsunami of need and an imbalance of resources going forwards”.
There’s also been a “concerning decline” reported by 35% of local authorities in people coming forward for help for domestic abuse and safeguarding issues. The report said:
There is little reason to assume that these needs would have reduced in those areas, rather that people are more reluctant to approach councils, or issues are occurring within domestic settings.
Ultimately it means that some people are not getting the help and support they need.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?