A group of major charities has called on the government to do more to support people on the “neglected front line” of the care system.
Leaders from the Alzheimer’s Society, Marie Curie, Age UK, Independent Age and the representative body Care England have signed a joint letter to Matt Hancock, the health secretary, urging the government to publish a comprehensive plan to support the social care sector through the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are writing together as charity and care sector leaders on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable people reliant on social care and the hundreds dying in care homes, supported by an army of incredible, often low-paid and undervalued care workers who are not trained to deal with death on this scale,” it says.
“We are appalled by the devastation which coronavirus is causing in the care system and we have all been inundated with desperate calls from the people we support, so we are demanding a comprehensive care package to support social care through the pandemic.”
Testing and protective equipment is urgently needed in care homes, the letter says
“A lack of protective equipment means staff are putting their own lives at risk while also carrying the virus to highly vulnerable groups,” it adds.
“Care England estimates that there have been nearly a thousand deaths already, yet deaths from coronavirus in care homes are not being officially recorded or published. Social care is the neglected front line.
“Older people’s lives are not worth less. Care home staff are not second-class carers. The government must step in and make it clear that no one will be abandoned to this virus simply because of their age, condition or where they live.”
The letter call for care home staff to be given priority testing for the virus, for support to ensure contact can be maintained between care home residents and their families, and for good end-of-life care for people dying in the care system.