Guidance published on £60 million funding to address Omicron pressures on adult social care
The Department for Health and Social Care has published guidance on the Adult Social Care Omicron Support Fund.
This follows the government announcement on 29 December 2021 of £60 million additional funding for January 2022 in recognition of the increased pressure on existing funding sources caused by the Omicron variant.
Providers will want to read the guidance in full. The main points are:
- This funding is in addition to Infection Control and Testing Fund (round 3) and the first and second Workforce Recruitment and Retention funds.
- Its purpose is to help local authorities in England support the sector with measures already covered by the infection prevention and control (IPC) allocation of the Infection Control and Testing Fund (round 3) to reduce the rate of COVID-19 transmission.
- Additionally, this funding may also be used to increase ventilation in care homes, and to enhance local authorities’ current direct payment offer to carers. It may also be used to pay for temporary staffing to cover increased staff absence caused by COVID-19 and maintain staffing levels and workforce capacity.
- It can be used to top up but not double pay other funding.
- The funding will be paid in full in January 2022 so local authorities can use the funding as quickly as possible.
- Conditions and reporting requirements have been minimised for local authorities and providers, but there are still record keeping, reporting, and Capacity Tracker requirements.
- Local authorities have discretion to use the funding as needed locally to meet the increased challenges posed by the Omicron variant. A list of what they should consider as appropriate uses of the grant is in the guidance:
- ensuring that staff who are isolating in line with government guidance receive their normal wages and do not lose income while doing so
- paying for temporary cover for staff who are unable to work because they are unwell due to COVID-19 and/or are isolating in line with government guidance, in order to maintain safe workforce capacity in care services
- paying for temporary staffing (overtime or agency) to maintain safe staffing levels
- limiting staff movement between settings in line with the latest guidance, to help reduce the spread of infection – this includes staff who work for one provider across several settings, staff that work on a part-time basis for multiple employers and agency staff
- limiting or cohorting staff to individual groups of people receiving care, including segregation of COVID-19 positive residents in care homes
- steps to limit the use of public transport by members of staff
- providing accommodation for staff who proactively choose to stay separate from their families in order to limit social interaction outside work
- support to providers in purchasing CO2 monitors or air cleaners for use in care homes to monitor and improve ventilation
- enhancing local authorities’ current direct payment offer to support care provided by friends and family, including any additional support the carer may need to assist them to continue in their caring role
- providing additional support to care homes or other providers that are currently experiencing an outbreak to ensure that they are able to put in place sufficient IPC measures
- providing support to community groups and paying volunteer expenses.
- Local authorities can choose to pass some or all of this funding directly to care providers that are registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), subject to oversight and anti-fraud conditions.
The guidance is available at Adult Social Care Omicron Support Fund: guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
The Homecare Assocations is asking local authorities to make sure they pass funding on, from whatever source, to providers as fast as possible, given the financial and workforce pressures facing the sector.
We would like to hear from members how they fare in accessing support.
Please email our Policy Team at [email protected] with your comments.