DHSC coronavirus social care update - 16 March

care quality commission

The independent regulator of health and social care in England


20210315 Matt Hancock


Dear Reader, 

I’m really excited to be starting these monthly updates to the adult social care sector. It’s a chance for me to connect with you and share my thoughts on the social care hot topics which matter most to you.

So let me start by thanking everyone working in social care who has stepped up to such huge challenges this past year. In the face of the greatest public health emergency in a generation, you have worked so hard to keep those you care for safe.

It’s been an incredibly difficult time: we know people who live in care homes, or receive care in their own homes, are more likely to be vulnerable to COVID-19. We've had to take extra care. You've been a tremendous comfort to residents and their families alike - and borne a heavy emotional burden as a consequence.

You are at the heart of this new phase in our efforts against this deadly disease: our COVID-19 vaccination programme. Beneath the headline figure of over 23 million people in the UK having their first dose, of that number, the vast majority of residents and staff have had theirs.

I've been determined to make sure access to vaccines is not just for those working in care settings, but also to those providing support in care homes. For anyone in those groups yet to take up the offer of the jab, I urge to you to reconsider. I can't stress enough how important this is. Your decision to protect yourself protects everyone around you and speeds our way out of lockdown.

As well as making sure you get the protection you deserve, I know we need to do more to help you continue to deliver world-class care.

First, I want to bring in talented new colleagues to support you. Our latest recruitment drive continues to attract more brilliant and caring people into the profession. ‘Call to Care’ is going great guns recruiting those keen to find short-term roles during the current heightened demand. Our ‘Care for Others. Make a Difference’ campaign is motivating more and more people to embark on long-term social care careers.

Second, I want new and existing colleagues alike, to help us create a system that truly works for them and the people they serve. Collaboration has been the watchword of this pandemic. In my view, the response to COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of collaboration across health and care services. You’ve shown what you can achieve when we work flexibly. It’s not always been easy, but necessity has been the mother of invention once again.

This type of collaboration is the golden thread running through the proposals in our Health and Care Bill White Paper I set out last month. It is as much a reflection of lessons learned over the last year as it is a vision of what we want to achieve beyond this pandemic. I want a more integrated, innovative and responsive system, that harnesses the best of modern technology and supports the vocation and dedication of those who work in it.

For colleagues working in care settings, it's about making the system work for those who work in the system. For example, we must improve how we collect data. We can make sure providers and clinicians have the right information to know where, when and how to receive or discharge residents from one setting to another. The clinical lead role for care homes, introduced early in the pandemic, has proven just how vital the link between NHS and social care services is. It saves time, it saves resources, it saves lives. It's integration in action.

For patients, our proposals will make sure people, regardless of whether they are at home, in care homes or on hospital wards, receive fast, high quality, joined-up care when and where they need it. That means removing barriers to accessing care and preventing people being passed from pillar to post when being assessed.

This process should be seamless, not least to minimise the stress and confusion such delays and diversions often cause. Our reforms will also task NHS services, care providers and local authorities to be equal partners in person-centred provision – and alert to processes and mindsets, which create or amplify health inequalities.

The changes we propose are by no means the full extent of our ambition for the nation’s health. We are committed to reform the funding of adult social care and will bring forward proposals this year. Taken together, these important changes will be a step-change in how our health and care system works. But crucially, they will build on what colleagues across health and care have told us and continue to tell us.

I am determined to listen to you. After all, we could not have got through the past year without you. Equally, you will be at the centre of our ambition for a health and care system fit for our times – and fit for the future.

Visit the  to view the latest updates on the vaccination programme. 


Celebrities back social care workforce recruitment campaign 

20210315 jo brand


As part of the ‘Care for Others, Make a Difference’ social care recruitment campaign, DHSC has launched a new social media film, backed by celebrities including comedian Jo Brand (pictured above), Countdown maths genius Rachel Riley, British middle distance runner Adelle Tracey and dance legend Arlene Phillips. 

This campaign comes as new research suggests people now have greater awareness of the importance of adult social care, with over a third saying they have a more positive view of it since the pandemic began. Please share the new campaign film on your social media.

You can watch the film and download other material here


Social Work Week 2021

20210315 social work week


The first ever Social Work Week in England is now coming to a close. It's been a chance for everyone with an interest in social work to examine its growing importance in society as a regulated profession.

Social Work England, the independent regulator, has brought people together with different experiences of social work to debate online about why its practice matters, share lessons learnt and cultivate new relationships. Chief Executive, Colum Conway, reflects on a successful debut. 

You can read Colum's blog: learn, connect, engage here


Blog watch:

Deputy Chief Medical Officer on care home visiting 

20210315 germs be gone


"This last year has been incredibly challenging. The top priorities have been to save lives, protect the most vulnerable people in our society and safeguard the NHS, but it has meant our contact with family and friends has been significantly limited.

"Older care home residents are among those groups identified as at greatest risk, so we have taken a cautious and clinically-led approach to social contact in these settings."

Dr Jenny Harries OBE, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, explains more about the approach to easing care home visiting restrictions in this blog for our Social Care site.

Read the Social Care blog here

Image created by www.freepik.com

Partners in care: care home visiting support

20210315 old man fist bump


To support the easing of restrictions on care home visits, the National Care Forum has led the creation of a new set of resources called Partners in Care. They've been produced in collaboration with Rights for Residents, Relatives and Residents, John’s Campaign and Age UK and backed by many others in the sector.

These resources can be used and adapted by care homes. They include a visiting charter setting out shared rights and responsibilities and a visiting pledge, covering commitments all parties can sign up to.

Some care home residents have received a letter advising them they have been added to the shielded patients list (because they are clinically extremely vulnerable). We have made an addition to the guidance to make clear being on the list does not prevent care home residents from receiving visitors in the same way as others.

You can visit the National Care Forum website here, and download the full suite of resources 

Image created by freepik.com


Your health and wellbeing: new campaign from Our Frontline

20210315 Our Frontline


Our Frontline has launched a new social media campaign to support all care workers. 

'Weather the Storm' reminds all of us working in or with the sector, that Our Frontline services continue to be available, providing one-to-one free and confidential emotional support with trained volunteers, via 24/7 text or online, or 7am - 11pm by phone (seven days a week).

Download the 'Weather the Storm' campaign assets here


Care Workforce app to close this month

20210315 care workforce app


The Care Workforce app was set up as a short-term measure to support the workforce during the height of the pandemic, helping them receive information quickly about the changing nature of care in response to COVID-19.

With the vaccination programme beginning to show light at the end of the tunnel, the app will be discontinued from 31 March 2021.

The Department of Health and Social Care remains committed to providing care workers in England with all the information, advice, health and wellbeing resources they need.

Sign up for social care updates here or use the link at the top of this newsletter.

Read about health and wellbeing guidance for care staff here


COVID-19 guidance updated

for unpaid carers and young people

20210315 young carers clipart


COVID-19 guidance for unpaid carers and young people has been updated. It is for anyone in England who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who, because of a lifelong condition, illness, disability, serious injury, mental health condition or addiction, cannot cope without their support.

The guidance may also be helpful for those under 25 (young carers and young adult carers) who provide care for someone. The information and advice provided is designed to help carers understand the changes they need to make and signposts the help available during the current outbreak.

Go to GOV.UK to read the guidance the full guidance. 


Unpaid carers: how to get your COVID-19 vaccination

20210315 unpaid carer covid vacc


Recently published guidance explains how unpaid carers can access their COVID-19 vaccinations. Carers will be contacted in phases, starting with those already known to health and social care services. All eligible unpaid carers will be contacted by the NHS when it’s their turn to receive the vaccine.

Unpaid carers over the age of 18, who are not already known to health and care services can contact the National Booking Service or ring 119, to find out if they are eligible to book their vaccination appointment.

Click here for access to the communications toolkit


Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care has second jab

20210315 chief nurse second jab


Deborah Sturdy, our Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care in England, was pleased to receive her second COVID-19 vaccination dose at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London recently.

Following the jab, Deborah said: "I encourage everyone working across social care to get vaccinated, so we can protect ourselves, our families, our colleagues and crucially those we care for and support."

Click here for an easy read guide to COVID-19 vaccination. 


Visiting professionals guidance strengthened 

20210315 male builder


Testing for professionals visiting care homes has been strengthened to ensure a consistent approach for all care providers in England.

The main changes are for NHS employees to show evidence of a negative test before visiting; an increase in testing for CQC inspectors and for visitors who might not test as part of their job, such as engineers or plumbers, to only be testing on their first visit of the day.

Click here to read the full guidance. 

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