Evening Standard Comment: Far from fixing our social care crisis, we are headed for great difficulty

·2-min read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson plays Connect 4 with resident Janet (left) and carer Lakshmi during a visit to Westport Care Home in Stepney Green, east London (Paul Edwards/The Sun/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson plays Connect 4 with resident Janet (left) and carer Lakshmi during a visit to Westport Care Home in Stepney Green, east London (Paul Edwards/The Sun/PA) (PA Wire)

Care homes have formed a central part of the Covid-19 story in this country. The joint parliamentary committee review into lessons to be learned from the pandemic pointed to the “rapid discharge of people from hospitals into care homes without adequate testing or rigorous isolation” as a key early failure.

Today is another important moment, as all staff in registered care homes in England must be fully-vaccinated in order to continue in their role, unless they are medically exempt.

We support this decision and encourage everyone eligible for a vaccination to come forward. But we understand the careful calculation inherent in such a mandate.

It is a particular challenge given that our care homes are already facing tremendous pressure and running low on staff. The Government has allocated £162.5 million to help with workforce issues, and last week launched a national recruitment campaign to fill more than 100,000 social care vacancies.

But care groups have pointed out that shortages mean some homes are now unable to accept hospital patients ready for discharge as winter pressures accelerate.

The Prime Minister has made it clear that reforming Britain’s care sector is a priority. But at least in the short term, any additional cash will flow to the NHS to handle the substantial backlog caused by the pandemic.

Far from having fixed our social care crisis, we are headed for a hugely difficult time.

Remember them

It is amid the hustle and bustle of a city, talk of recovery and hopes of “getting back to normal”, that lies the power of 11am on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

Armistice Day retains a resonance that has stood the test of time. As those with lived experience of the First World War have gradually faded away, we — the descendants — are still moved by their memory, awed by their sacrifice and shocked by the tragic loss of life.

We will remember them.

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