Supporting the social care workforce to enable the delivery of safe support and care and to have positive mental health and wellbeing
Social care employers and Health and Social Care Partnerships will fully support their dedicated social care workforce through these challenging winter months.
Enhanced winter measures:
We will sponsor fair work practices by continuing the Social Care Staff Support Fund, in addition to the support provided by adult social care employers. This will ensure that staff are paid their expected income when ill or self-isolating as a result of Covid-19 where their terms and conditions pay less than this.
The additional pressures of the pandemic to the delivery of adult social care will have had an effect across the workforce. We recognise that as we enter winter, and after some very challenging months, individual reserves may be low, and people are concerned about future challenges. Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce, the third sector and unpaid carers will be key. We will maintain access to local NHS Board workforce wellbeing services, raise awareness of the health and social care wellbeing national hub PROMIS and the mental health support service at NHS 24.
Through our partners and existing forums we will raise awareness of the Disclosure Scotland Priority COVID Staff process to support the prompt recruitment and appointment of additional resource. We will provide access to staff identified through the Health and Social Care Covid-19 Accelerated Recruitment Portals which has enabled those with relevant skills and experience to come forward and support health and social care services. In addition, we will work with care homes to understand the additional administrative activities required in response to COVID.
Local level workforce plans and staff rosters should be reviewed frequently by Health and Social Care Partnerships as part of professional oversight to identify risk of staffing deficits and offer advice and/or mutual aid where required. In circumstances where mutual aid is required it will be facilitated in a timely fashion to support safe care where necessary and provide support and sick pay to staff where it is required. Mutual aid across geographical boundaries should also be effected where necessary.
Ensuring our essential social care workforce, and Scotland’s unpaid carers, have access to the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) they need in order to carry out their roles safely during the pandemic is essential. Given the immense pressure on normal supply chains due to Covid-19, the Scottish Government, through NHS National Services Scotland has since March 2020, been providing top-up and emergency provision of PPE free of charge. This arrangement will continue until at least the end of March 2021. It will also be enhanced with the dissemination of information and updated PPE guidance for social care providers. This is important for the safety and wellbeing both of those providing care and support and the people they are supporting. Scotland’s COVID-19 PPE Action Plan will help ensure that the right PPE of the right quality gets to the people who need it at the right time.
Testing will remain critical in limiting transmission of COVID-19. All care home staff, including agency staff, where they are deployed to care homes, will continue to be offered weekly COVID-19 testing and uptake to date will be sustained by partners. With around one third of tests already moved, we will continue the transition of testing to our NHS run labs by the end of the calendar year, to secure improved turnaround times. The Coronavirus (COVID-19): review of testing strategy presents a clinical and scientific review of our COVID-19 Testing Strategy in light of the latest evidence and sets our priorities for extending testing as soon as capacity increases. This will expand routine testing to health and care staff who visit care homes, and other residential settings as appropriate, such as community nurses. It will further introduce testing for designated visitors to those who live in care homes where this can add an additional layer of risk mitigation and enable safe visiting to continue. Finally, it will allow us to expand testing to care at home staff as soon as the technology and capacity allow. We will also consider the delivery alignment of all new testing provision with local areas with highest community prevalence. Social care staff more widely and those in receipt of social care will continue to get tested if they or someone in their household are displaying symptoms or if they have been advised to be tested as a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Recognising and supporting unpaid carers is central to the sustainability of the social care system. The pandemic has thrown into sharp focus the important role that unpaid carers play in our communities. It has also significantly increased the pressures on carers and the numbers of people carrying out unpaid caring roles. Local delivery will be supported by funding and working with partners including the Carer Centre Manager Network and Scottish Young Carer Services Alliance. This will help local services to share practice and resources, and ensure that local carers’ services can access tools to support staff to build resilience over the winter months. This winter we will also work, through a dedicated national campaign, to encourage carers to take up the support they need to look after their own health and wellbeing, and to highlight the value of unpaid care and the pressures on carers.
New winter measures:
To develop our fair work proposals further we will shortly publish details of retrospective financial support for those within the workforce who were unable to work as they needed to shield at any point between March 2020 and the end of the UK Job Retention Scheme. Eligibility will be where their employer did not access the job retention scheme to furlough them.