Adult Social Care: Covid-19 2020/2021 Winter Plan

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) released its Coronavirus Adult Social Care Winter Plan for 2020/2021. The Plan sets out the government's ambitions for the sector in England and the challenges facing adult social care this winter.

Largely focused on health and social care systems issues such as managing ongoing demand on acute, primary and community services and resultant pressures on care homes during the pandemic, housing barely gets a mention considering the emphasis of supporting people better at home. There is one reference to extra care housing and supported living, and a section on the future role of digital technology. For example, packages of support for accessing wifi, roll out of free devices to enable enhanced integration with GP/patient  records and wider community support. However, the Plan is primarily focussed on the control of infection with an additional £546m to providers administered by councils, free PPE for CQC registered care providers, care home visiting arrangements, the appointment of a new Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care, a commitment to improve access to testing and testing flow, ;ocal authorities to work with social care services to re-open safely, in particular, day services or respite services, and requirement for all local authorities to confirm in writing to DHSC that they have in place their own winter plans, which have been developed with local partners and reflect existing planning, measures to tackle inequalities, local outbreak plans and the actions contained in the winter plan.

But, with winter in mind, and considering DHSC is a signatory to the Health and Housing Memorandum of Understanding, Improving health and care through the home, it is surprising to note that there is no mention of other housing interventions and improvements to the home that have a health and social care dividend.  For example, the use of DFGs to supplement the delivery of care out of hospital and support longer term recovery, recuperation and rehabilitation of people with long term conditions with or without Covid-19. Or, the role of home improvement agencies and OTs to undetake home energy and/or safety checks this winter to ascertain the need for aids, adaptations or community equipment to ensure a home is warm, safe and accessible for the transfer of care.