Covid-19 guidance issued to local authority commissioners

Guidance has been issued to local authority commissioners to help support social care providers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Issued by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Local Government Association and Care Provider Alliance, the guidance aims to assist providers in maximising availability of care and support, and for them to remain operationally and financially resilient.

The representative bodies list a range of pressures and actions commissioners may take to address them, including issues covering cashflow and workforce availability.

It outlines how reduced cashflow will impact homecare operators as there may be a time lag of up to eight weeks between delivery of support and payment to the provider.

The guidance suggests commissioners can help by paying for homecare ‘on plan’ – the planned hours for each person receiving domiciliary care.

Cashflow will also potentially affect care homes, and commissioners are being advised to pay for planned support for people and the reconciling for any adjustments due to deaths or other factors.

It said: ‘This is even more important as occupancy levels may become more volatile, with potentially more voids due to infection control measures possible offset by extra demand. Commissioners can agree with local care homes what level of certainty in terms of planned payments will help them through this volatility.’

The guidance also highlights that providers will face higher workforce absence rates, through medically-recommended self-isolation, sickness, family caring responsibilities and other factors.

It suggests commissioners recognise this and fund these extra cost pressures.

Commissioners can also ensure their contracts allow flexibility for providers in hiring and deploying staff, for example allowing recruits to begin working after a DBS AdultFirst check has been obtained, rather than insisting on the full DBS checks.

The United Kingdom Home Care Association told the BBC today (Wednesday 18 March) social care companies were urgently in need of extra financial support from government, with changes needed to the way they were paid by local authorities so they do not run out of money.

As of 9am today, there were 2,626 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus in the UK. As of 5pm, the government said the number of deaths reached 104.