The Government has admitted it will take almost a month for all care home staff and residents to be tested for Covid-19, as Age UK’s director accuses ministers of “too little, too late”.
On Monday the Government released its blueprint regarding its plans to ease the lockdown sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
For months, ministers’ plans for handling social care and the vulnerable elderly have been the subject of scandal.
This week, the human rights watchdog announced that it was considering investigating the legality of discharging possibly infected patients from hospitals into care homes.
However following the latest Government guidance, which aims to have all care home residents and staff tested by June 6, the UK’s leading charity representing the elderly people has criticised the plans as “too little, too late”.
In its latest guidance regarding testing, the Government said that it is “providing widespread, swift testing of all symptomatic care home residents, and all patients discharged from hospital before going into care homes”.
“It is offering a Covid-19 test to every staff member and resident in every care home in England, whether symptomatic or not; by 6 June, every care home for the over 65s will have been offered testing for residents and staff.”
“The 6th of June seems a long way away,” charity workers said.
In response to the deadline, Caroline Abrahams at Age UK said: “Covid-19 poses such an enormous threat to older people, especially in shared spaces like care homes, that to be successful any strategy for tackling it has to be both firm and fast.
“Unfortunately there have been ongoing problems for care homes in getting access to enough tests – and also it seems in receiving the results back in good time – and these are reported to be continuing even now.
“These very practical issues have a big impact because in the absence of knowing who is infected and who isn’t it is virtually impossible to keep residents safe. It also means that a care home may find itself understaffed if some workers are self-isolating unnecessarily, something that good ongoing testing can help to avoid.
“When it comes to supporting care homes and their staff and residents to come through this pandemic as unscathed as possible it has often seemed a matter of ‘too little, too late’. No doubt there are huge logistical issues in sourcing tests, and indeed PPE, when countries all around the world are after them, but nonetheless it feels as though the UK has sometimes been left on the starting line while others have raced ahead.”