Interesting comments from Dr Mahiben Maruthappu, former lead advisor to Sir Simon Stevens, as well as the co-founder of the NHS Innovation Accelerator, and chief executive of Cera Care, the UK’s leading social care firm and the government’s exclusive technology partner for carer recruitment and training.
He told the Guardian: “The care sector needs to get real and opt for home care more. Covid-19 has shown us that discharging people into care homes simply does not work; the NHS needs to opt for home care when discharging people [because they] become far more vulnerable.”
He said the social sector was reportedly 20 years behind NHS on technology uptake. “The social care sector hasn’t changed in terms of service delivery in probably a century and this is unnecessary; through use of innovation, tools are freely available online, which is what other sectors have already grasped and embraced.
“Providers need to wake up to this and government need to make bigger investment into tech and embracing technology in the same way that we’ve seen a lot of announcements from Matt Hancock about NHS and technology. We must not forget that he is secretary for health and social care – we need to see this enthusiasm mirrored for social care too.”
In the short term, to prepare for a second wave, Maruthappu said NHS hospitals should rethink where they sent people to support social care better. “The NHS has rightly received huge investment over the past few months, and social care needs this additional investment and attention so that providers who are struggling under these pressures, financially, can too be stabilised.
“Similar to NHS hospitals, PPE for the social care sector should be paid for by government and, where possible, statutory sick pay for when carers isolate should also be paid for by government to stabilise the more fragile care companies in the same way that NHS hospitals have been.”
Maruthappu adds that just like the NHS, care companies need to be encouraged to plan on a national level for a second wave of coronavirus. “The care sector has received very limited guidance about what model to take, the impact of a second wave and the onslaught that companies have to brace themselves for.
“If the sector is told in advance, we can prepare adequately. We can change processes and begin business reorganisation so that the sector is ready and resilient for challenges ahead,” he said. “This is what the NHS are doing as they have the information provided for them. Social care needs to be treated in the same way and given the same amount of guidance. Social care isn’t asking for special treatment, but equality.”