Care and Support West
Taking Action in Uncertain Times
Care and Support West is a leading representative body for companies, charities, organisations and individuals involved in the social care, support and health sectors in the West of England. Normally the team is kept busy fighting to provide service providers a voice in their future. However, when the threat from the COVID-19 pandemic became clear Care and Support West mobilised in response. CarePlanner spoke to their Chief Executive Officer, David Smallacombe, to find out more.
Helping people get the right information about COVID-19 remains a crucial endeavour in the fight against the virus. With so many people affected, and so much noise around the issue, cutting through with practical advice remains essential. As a member of the Care Alliance Association, Care and Support West is linked to associations across the UK. David has been using this extensive network to gather the right information for their daily bulletins. This includes information from Care England, commercial partners and government updates. David said:
“I’m getting a whole pile of information on a daily basis. One of the things we are doing is putting this in a bulletin to draw these together. Over the weekend for example, wherever I picked up useful info, I sent it to Barbara [Head of Comms] and asked, ‘Can this go out on the Monday morning comms Bulletin?’ We are doing this on a daily basis.”
Along with providing bulletins Care and Support West also answers questions directly. Given the crisis, they have extended this service beyond their membership to any interested party. Questions vary from basic to complicated and David has a great team ready to respond. David said:
“where I can, I reply directly to people who contact me. If I don’t have an answer, we have a group of commercial partners and a board of 10 or 12 people (other care providers) to whom I can turn so that if I can’t answer directly, or I think people would have an additional or better answer than me, I link the questioner to them.”
Maintaining Quality of Service Provision
One of the major issues care providers are facing is their ability to maintain their standard of service. The increased demand on the workforce is coupled with an increased demand for supplies. David said:
“We get calls from people who have experienced a lot of difficulty in getting PPE, (personal protection equipment). Calls which say “we didn’t get this yet, what do we do”? I send them the direct link to the government PPE department and the telephone number to call. I suggest they either email these people or call them and let them know their care venue hasn’t received the equipment yet.
Practical and direct advice is a hallmark of Care and Support West’s approach. It helps that they are veterans of representing the needs of care providers too. So they are not afraid to step in when they feel that a member isn’t being treated fairly
“I received a call at the back end of last week from a provider. He is in his 70’s and is also the registered manager for his service. He was saying to me. ‘Look I need an extra amount of money to get an agency person to take on this role for me so that I can self-isolate.’ Immediately I got in contact with his commissioning council and said asked what they could do to support him. They said someone will call you later. Well they didn’t, so the next day I went back to them and said no one called me, what’s going on?”
“Again, they said someone will call me tomorrow and they didn’t. So I wrote them an extensive email, saying as far as I can see you are not meeting your duty of care. This person is in serious difficulty, and you need to get back to me. As a result of this pressure from me they did come back to me saying they would be in contact directly with him that day. Those are the kinds of things that we are doing on a daily basis and we also try to support providers with pretty much anything else that anyone asks us.
Meeting All Needs
Mental health is a key factor during the COVID-19 pandemic. People are having to adjust to the rapidly changing world outside their door while placed firmly behind it. Each day healthcare workers plunge themselves into frontline care, to do battle again. The constant stress of our situations has an inevitable effect on mental health. Some managers have reached out to Care and Support West to help them support their staff. David said:
“One of the things that someone asked us last week was, can you offer our staff counselling? However, this guy wanted 24/7 counselling for his staff. That’s probably not something we can offer, but we could link him with someone to do that.”
Adaptability is key in these situations. Care and Support West have changed their structure and brought their full weight to bear on addressing each situation as it arises. Being able to work with care providers, commercial partners and government agencies to get the right answers.
There have also been some great examples of care providers adapting to the situation. David said:
“Some organisations for example I know have bought a good number of laptops so that their staff can work at home. I also know some care homes have bought a whole load of Ipads so that their residents can keep in touch with their family.”
These adaptations are impressive; however, they raise an obvious question – in David’s words, they “cost a pile of dosh”.
“Whilst [the Chancellor] Rishi Sunak is saying all of these things, the ‘how’ and “by when” answers are not as readily available”, David says. “I’m thinking that this virus outbreak has the potential for a whole pile of care homes to go bust. Even if their staff are continuing to work. The 80% wages support from Government from last week isn’t for care staff. It’s for other staff in other businesses. These are the type of things we try to keep up with and get out to our members and the wider care sector.”
It is an uncertain time for an awful lot of people, and domiciliary care is undoubtedly going to be on the front line in the effort to support vulnerable people through this crisis. And it can’t do that without the right information – information provided by organisations like Care and Support West. You can find out more, and sign up for their daily bulletin, here:
Contact them here: https://www.careandsupportwest.com/contact-us
General information and advice for social care can be found at CQC’s website: https://www.cqc.org.uk/