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89 care homes helped by new Covid-19 prevention team

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 Abi 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.”

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