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Nuffield Trust analyses the Covid-19 lessons for social care

Insufficient understanding of the sector, a poorly coordinated response and a lack of resources are to blame for the Covid-19 outbreak in care homes, analysis of the first Covid-19 wave shows.

Published by the Nuffield Trust Building a resilient social care system in England: What can be learnt from the first wave of Covid-19? analysed the structural and systemic factors that influenced the initial national response and affected the ability of the sector to respond to the pandemic.

These centre on three areas:

The system. A range of deeply rooted systemic issues, with unclear roles and responsibilities among levels and areas of government, impacted the coordination and timeliness of the response to the pandemic.

People. A lack of deep understanding of the social care sector (in terms of who draws on support, the paid and unpaid workforce, and the range of different services) among those leading the response meant that measures and guidance were insufficiently sensitive to the diversity and complexity of this vast sector.

Resources. A lack of sustained investment, and instead a reliance on sporadic injections of funding, over the preceding decade resulted in the sector entering the pandemic with patchy data, limited spread of technology and innovation and a residential care estate that was not fit for purpose.

The report concludes that social care entered the pandemic in a fragile state characterised by falling care spending, undermet need in society; a plethora of unpaid carers, providers in financial difficulty and widespread workforce shortages.

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