On 3 April 2020, Methodist Homes (MHA) issued the following statement in response to the latest Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) guidelines for care homes.

“If the Government is now expecting us in the social care sector to be the second front line then we need to be treated and acknowledged as such. We need the right levels of persona; protective equipment (PPE) and we need testing - and we need it now.

"I am going to be frank, NHS staff are used to dealing with a high volume of end of life care, social care staff who develop close personal relationships with residents over months and years are not. As extraordinary as our colleagues across the UK are, they did not sign up to this but are doing their very best. They increasingly don’t have the equivalent PPE to the NHS and we can’t continue to accept that. For 76 years we have prided ourselves on delivering excellent end of life care with the support and involvement of families. At present we are struggling to even offer families the PPE to allow them to be with their loved ones at the end.

"Surely as a society we can do better than that.

"I hope we never again hear from the powers that be the egregious narrative of care workers as ’low skilled’. They are anything but.”

Sam Monaghan, CEO of MHA

The new guidance from DHSC places greater pressure on care homes to remain open to hospital admissions, regardless of testing status of patients, and advises that homes should be taking admissions even where people are symptomatic. There have also been formal communications asking care homes to consider ‘accelerating’ conversations around Advanced Care Plans in an attempt to take pressure off emergency admissions.

We want to emphasise that if this approach is going to be imposed upon the care sector then it cannot be done without the requisite levels of support. We cannot accept an approach which in essence makes the care sector the second front line during the pandemic, without also putting us on an equal footing with the NHS when it comes to resources, be those PPE, priority testing for staff and residents and also the accompanying professional support required.

MHA is known and recognised for the quality not only of our services but also the approach we take to end-of-life care which is rooted in dignity, compassion and the needs of the individual. Across our services we are having these conversations with our residents and their families and want to assure you that we continue to do this in a person-centered way, and will always do this in accordance with our values of respecting every person, treating them with dignity, and nurturing mind, body and spirit.

We have stated before that as one of the largest and longest established providers of care in the UK, it is incumbent on MHA to speak up for the older people we care for, our colleagues and the wider sector. Not all providers will be in the same position as MHA and the Government must acknowledge that these decrees put a considerable strain and increased responsibility on an already overstretched workforce.

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