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Source: City of Stoke-on-Trent

A cross-agency support team set up in April 2020 to respond to Covid-19 has now helped 104 care homes in Stoke-on-Trent. And residents are being urged to do all they can to to avoid tier escalation.

A cross-agency support team set up in April 2020 to respond to Covid-19 has now helped 104 care homes in Stoke-on-Trent.

The news comes as latest figures reveal that the number of coronavirus cases in the city are increasing and consequently the service last month was restarted to help support the increase on demand in care homes.

Through their work, the care home team, which is made up of experts from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Combined Healthcare and University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, has supported over 2000 care home residents in the city since April 2020.  

The work with care homes and extra care facilities in the city sees professional advice provided in a number of areas to combat the spread of coronavirus. This includes advice on testing for residents and staff, infection control arrangements, clarity on the use of PPE and support on how to access it, and care planning for individuals. Support is provided both virtually and face-to-face depending on preferences from the care home themselves but observing social distancing at the same time. 

At the start of the pandemic the team was put in place with the aim of providing additional support to care homes to help limit the spread of coronavirus within care homes across the city, following concerns about the number of suspected cases, confirmed cases and deaths in care homes nationally. It also came ahead of any specific guidance set out by government in this area. A specially designed checklist covering 19 areas was devised to work through potential issues within the homes which also included taking account of residents’ individual wishes such as individual care plans and end- of- life preferences.

Councillor Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “Care homes have played an invaluable and crucial role throughout the pandemic, going through some of the worse times imaginable up and down the country.

“Our care home support team provided support, advice, guidance and training to all care homes registered to deliver care in Stoke on Trent, as well as providers who are delivering care in supported living schemes. The team has continued to support each home to complete a comprehensive checklist and where necessary the team has commissioned additional assurance through support from UNHM and a follow up visit using the Care Excellence Framework.

“Our aim was to support all homes across the city so we could try and get ahead in protecting residents; this is something we did successfully. Now we are seeing a rise in cases, we are once again offering support as we must continue to protect the most vulnerable, save lives and support our frontline care workers.”

Dr Ian Turner, Deputy Chief Nurse and Director of Infection Prevention & Control at MPFT said: “Our Infection Prevention & Control team has provided valuable support and advice to care homes across the city throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and is increasing the level of this support to care homes.

“This has involved carrying out site visits to look at the care home environment and offer professional advice. The feedback we’ve received has been very positive, with care home staff appreciating the support provided and the opportunity to discuss complex cases.

“MPFT remains committed to working alongside our partners to continue to offer this important service.”

Jane Munton Davies, Associate Director of Stoke Community Mental Health Services for Combined Healthcare said: “Combined Healthcare has enhanced their support to care homes, providing seven day a week, 8am to 8pm specialist input to support people experiencing difficulties relating to mental health and/or dementia. The care home liaison service works closely with local care homes and primary care to ensure that the needs of this vulnerable group are met appropriately at this difficult time.”

In other news, residents are being urged to do all they can to kick coronavirus out of Stoke-on-Trent and help play their part in keeping the city open. It comes as news that Stoke-on-Trent has been classed as medium; tier 1 after a new three tier system of Covid-19 restrictions was announced on Monday by the government. The three tiers of medium, high and very high will see restrictions tighten with each tier.

Cllr Brown continued: “As Stoke-on-Trent is in the medium tier this means no extra city-wide restrictions are in place. But with case numbers rising fast in the city, this could literally change within days.

“Our seven day case rate is rising, 93 in the last week; the West Midlands average is 120 and England is 150. We are holding our position in the medium tier. But we are rising and may go into a higher tier if we don’t take action now. I’m calling on each and every resident in the city to do what is being asked to avoid any escalation.

“One of the main ways to tackle the coronavirus is by reducing cases spread by household transmission. Transmission is more likely to occur indoors than outdoors. The principle of the tiers as you get higher is that we shouldn’t be mixing households – if we do then we will continue to increase the transmission of this virus and it’s more likely we’ll move to the next tier where household mixing will be drastically affected and life will be impacted significantly. We all want to keep Stoke-on-Trent open and protect our loved ones.”

MIL OSI United Kingdom