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Vulnerable adults receiving social care will be better protected by new guidance issued to councils and care providers as the Government works to delay the spread of COVID-19.  

The guidance covers a variety of scenarios relating to care homes, staff and providers who care for people in their own homes to ensure older people and those with pre-existing conditions and care needs who receive support are best protected.

Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions are much more likely to develop serious complications. Anyone who is suspected of having COVID-19, with a new continuous cough or high temperature, should not visit care homes or people receiving home care and should self-isolate at home. 

People receiving care will be isolated in their rooms if they have symptoms of coronavirus. To ensure they can continue to receive the care they require, care staff will use protective equipment to minimise the risk of transmission. 

Building on existing strong local relationships, the NHS will work with care providers where necessary to make sure people have the best possible care and remain in the community.

GPs have been asked to look at the possibilities of offering digital appointments to provide advice and guidance to patients and potentially their families.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I understand how worried people most in need of care will be about coronavirus, and how concerned families around the country will be for their loved ones. And I want everyone to know we are working around the clock to ensure we do everything possible to reduce the risk vulnerable and elderly people face.  

“Public safety is my top priority and we are clear people in care should follow the same tried and tested protocols everyone else is following. These include good hand hygiene and self-isolating where necessary, allowing our fantastic care workforce to keep them well.

“We are working closely with partners from across the social care sector to ensure local authorities, care providers and our health and social workforce are prepared to take action to protect our most vulnerable.”

Councils have been told to map out all care and support plans to prioritise people who are at the highest risk and contact all registered providers in their local area to facilitate plans for mutual aid. 

As part of the Government’s emergency legislation measures, Statutory Sick Pay will be paid from day one of sickness to support those affected by COVID-19. Those on zero-hour contracts will also receive Statutory Sick Pay or will be able to claim Universal Credit dependent on their circumstances.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at PHE, said: “All of us have a vital role in helping protect older people and vulnerable groups who are most at risk. That’s why it’s so important that, as soon as you develop a new and continuous cough or a fever, you stay at home for seven days, helping to limit the spread of the infection. 

“Everyone still out and about in the community should wash their hands frequently and thoroughly, for 20 seconds or more.”

Skills for Care CEO Oonagh Smyth said: “In these unprecedented times, it is vital that social employers have all the latest information and guidance they need to protect everyone who receives care and support. 

“This information will mean the 1.49 million social care workers can safely carry out their tasks in our communities.”

The new guidance is based on the latest evidence and advice from the NHS, PHE and some of the world’s top clinicians on pandemics, to make sure every effort is being made across local authorities and health systems to protect local people in the event of an outbreak.

This guidance will be continually reviewed in line with public health guidance as the Government’s action plan develops.

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