A new cross-agency support team set up just two weeks ago to respond to Covid-19 has already helped 89 care homes in Stoke-on-Trent.
The news comes as latest figures reveal that the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the city are increasing at a faster pace than previously.
Through their work, the care home team, which is made up of experts from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Combined Healthcare and University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, has already supported over 1,300 care home residents in the city.
The work with care homes and extra care facilities in the city has seen professional advice provided in a number of areas to combat the spread of coronavirus. This has included advice on testing for residents and staff, infection control arrangements, clarity on the use of PPE and support on how to access it, and care planning for individuals. Support has been provided both virtually and face-to-face depending on preferences from the care home themselves but observing social distancing at the same time.
The team was put in place with the aim of providing additional support to care homes to help limit the spread of coronavirus within care homes across the city, following concerns about the number of suspected cases, confirmed cases and deaths in care homes nationally. It also came ahead of any specific guidance set out by government in this area. A specially designed checklist covering 19 areas was devised to work through potential issues within the homes which also included taking account of residents’ individual wishes such as individual care plans and end- of- life preferences.
Councillor Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “Care homes have played an invaluable and crucial role throughout the pandemic, going through some of the worse times imaginable up and down the country. We wanted to make sure we were supporting care homes in the city in a way that really helped and did not add any undue stress to an already pressurised environment. Our aim was to support all homes across the city, including those who were Covid-19 free so we could try and get ahead in protecting residents.
“By joining with partners and focusing on prevention, we’ve been able to provide a range of expertise ranging from social care, deep cleaning, infection control and logistics to ‘buddying’ for registered managers. The care home team has covered everything from advising management teams on how to effectively use the space they have to minimise the spread of the disease to providing mental health support for those in isolation given the huge challenges being faced.
“In one home, their laundry facilities had broken down. It’s a small thing but one that is essential to ensuring effective infection control so we quickly arranged replacements. We have also offered staffing support where care home teams have been depleted. Feedback has been incredible - one care home was so appreciative that they cried because they were simply so overwhelmed. This is about working together to protect residents in the city wherever they live. I’m proud that the team has been able to make sure a difference in such a short space of time.”
Kevin Parker-Evans, UHNM Associate Chief Nurse, said: “As part of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent health and social care system, the Community Rapid Intervention Service (CRIS), which is a joint partnership between University Hospitals of North Midlands and Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and the Trust’s Quality and Safety team with the Infection Prevention and Control team is pleased to be able to support local care homes with infection prevention advice and support and as part of mutual aid is also able to provide personal protection equipment to help keep this vulnerable group of patients safe and cared for in the most appropriate place.
“The Community Rapid Intervention Service was set up to help patients avoid unnecessary visits to A&E and hospital admission and is now providing this essential additional support during the current Covid-19 outbreak.”
Jane Munton Davies, Associate Director of Stoke Community Mental Health Services for Combined Healthcare said: “Combined Healthcare has enhanced their support to care homes, providing seven day a week, 8am to 8pm specialist input to support people experiencing difficulties relating to mental health and/or dementia. The care home liaison service works closely with local care homes and primary care to ensure that the needs of this vulnerable group are met appropriately at this difficult time.”
Following the roadmap announcement set out by the Prime Minister, the leader of the city council also provided a localised position for Stoke-on-Trent. She said: “We are acutely aware that the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Stoke-on-Trent has seen a significant rise in the last few days with 239.2 cases per 100,000 of the population recently confirmed. On March 31 we were 13th in the West Midlands out of 14 local authorities but we have now moved to seventh in the West Midlands – this acceleration is deeply worrying.
“While we have recognised the need to support our economy and know it’s critically important for business to get back up and running, we are clear that we must put the safety of residents and our staff front and centre. Further stages of lockdown will only be eased if levels of infection remain at a suitable level and if the five key tests are being met.
"We must continue to protect the most vulnerable, save lives and support our frontline care workers. There is a fine line that we have to balance and that we won’t rush to open up services – it must be the right thing to do. Lives must be protected and people, especially in the city, should not see this as a return to normality – this is a hugely critical time for the city and we must respond in a measured and well-managed way.
“We will be looking at what services we can open again over the coming weeks. This will be done in a controlled way, in line with national guidelines. This work is already underway, with the reintroduction of bulky waste collections from 13 May, and the restricted opening of tip sites from 14 May.
“At the same time, I would urge every individual in Stoke-on-Trent to take time before they make any major changes to their daily routine. Continue to wash your hands, social distance and work from home if you can so we can continue to do all that we can to prevent more cases and unnecessary deaths in the city. We also continue to encourage people to stay at home whenever possible to protect the NHS and save lives. One death is simply one death too many and I would urge everyone to play their part so we can move forward, rebuilding this great city we live in, one step at a time.”
For more information and advice on coronavirus (Covid-19) please visit Public Health England:
https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated.
For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.