Free COVID tests for visitors will be available from Saint Cecilia’s Care Group to enable visiting but protect staff and residents.
The move comes as not for profit care providers have written to the health secretary warning that visitors bringing COVID infection into the homes puts homes at risk of staff absence and increases the burden of sick pay.
Care workers’ union GMB says that the majority of England’s 1.3 million care workers will only receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) of £99.35 a week from 6 April. Calling for SSP to rise to at least £15 an hour, Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said: “Workers forced onto poverty SSP rates are left with the dilemma of choosing between going to work poorly or staying home and not being able to put food on the table.“
In a letter to the health secretary, not for profit sector and care worker representatives say that there could be catastrophic financial consequences for organisations attempting to cover sick pay, following the end of COVID support funding in England from 1 April.
In Wales and Scotland government sick pay support continues until the end of June.
The letter signed by Vic Rayner, chief executive of the National Care Forum, Sam Monaghan, chief executive of care provider MHA and Karolina Gerlich, chief executive of the Care Workers’ Charity, calls for DHSC in England to:
- provide funding for sick pay that they deserve
- address the inconsistency in care setting testing arrangements
- provide evidence for the new Living with COVID guidance
- Meet with representatives of the social care sector.
St Cecilia’s Managing Director Mike Padgham said: “We believe, with infection rates for Covid-19 soaring, that the Government might have been a little premature in relaxing so many of the rules.
“But, like all care providers, we are mindful that we are caring for some of the most vulnerable people in the community, so we have to keep protecting them as best we can.”