Peopletoo Blog: Social care during Coronavirus

CCN Blogs | 03 April 2020

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The passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020 enables Local Authorities to use Care Act easements to ensure the best possible care for people in our society during this exceptional period.  It is intended to enable authorities to prioritise resources should they be unable to meet their statutory duties in full due to demand spikes and/or staffing shortages as the Covid-19 pandemic reaches its peak.

With many local authorities struggling to meet demand prior to the outbreak of Covid19, whilst unthinkable under normal circumstances, it is likely that the easements will need to be enacted in some, if not all areas.

However, the act, and the mounting pressure of the Covid19 crisis have left authorities with the challenge of re-designing well-established processes and infrastructures for assessment, care and support planning and approval of packages to enable such prioritisation of resource. At any time, this would be challenging, but in the current circumstances with lack of staffing capacity, remote working and senior management teams responding to a rapidly changing situation, for many authorities this has felt an impossible task.

Some of the key challenges for authorities include:

  • Keeping abreast of the guidance and implications whilst retaining a focus on current operational delivery.
  • Developing local thresholds and processes for enacting the varying stages of easement and ensuring that these are communicated and agreed by all concerned
  • Developing a framework against which to prioritise care and support and mitigate risk. Whilst many authorities may have existing systems for RAG rating packages, under the current circumstances of social isolation and shielding, differing challenges may impact these ratings. It is important to establish a consistent approach to RAG rating, whilst also accounting for variations across service types.
  • Ensuring recording and evidencing of decision making is consistent and decisions are evidence based.
  • Ensuring the impact of any changes to care and support during the period are understood and can be quickly reviewed post crisis.

Brighton and Hove City Council, together with Peopletoo have quickly responded to this challenge and developed an interim assessment and support planning framework to support professional decision making during the COVID-19 crisis, in line with the emergency legislation and ethical framework.  This framework will facilitate rapid, effective and evidence-based decision making to prioritise deployment of resources to those with the highest level of need, whilst ensuring that all citizens in need are safe and well. It will enable the council to evidence and justify decisions made during the crisis period and track, monitor and manage any risk.

This has included:

  • An overarching framework with key principles for practice
  • Tools to support implementation and guidance for staff, including:
    • A triage assessment document
    • A support planning tool which captures critical needs and unmet needs
    • A risk assessment tool which provides a RAG risk for each case, according to the criteria set out in the framework
    • Guidance for staff on recording standards and professional analysis to justify decision making
  • Local thresholds for activation of any easements under the Corona Virus Act and a framework for assessing the evidence and making decisions on the service’s ability to meet statutory duties
  • A revised scheme of delegation, with contingencies to account for expected reductions in management capacity due to sickness absence.
  • An action plan to support implementation of the framework and identification of the resources required
  • A communication strategy and plan to disseminate the changes including public facing communication.

At Peopletoo we understand the challenges for Councils and the need for capacity to interpret required changes, translate it into an action plan and track the implementation so that staff within Social Care can keep their focus on delivering services and meeting needs.  We are delighted to have been a trusted partner in the delivery of this for Brighton and Hove and would be keen to support other Councils and help ensure that resources remain focused where they are needed most. 

Kirsty Jordan, Services Director, Peopletoo