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16 April, 2020 Open access

Government launches COVID-19 action plan for adult social care in England

New plan sets out the government’s approach for all settings and contexts in which people receive adult social care

The government has launched a COVID-19 action plan for adult social care in England.

Introducing the new plan - that includes measures to control the spread of COVID-19 infection in care settings, support the care workforce and providers, and support and respond to individuals’ needs during the pandemic - the government advises -

‘This action plan sets out our approach for all settings and contexts in which people receive adult social care. This includes people’s own homes, residential care homes and nursing homes, and other community settings - it applies to people with direct payments and personal budgets, and those who fund their own care.’

In relation to supporting local authorities and other providers of care, the government highlights that the new Care Act easements under the Coronavirus Act 2020 - that replace certain duties to assess and meet care and support needs in England -

‘… allow local authorities to streamline assessment processes and prioritise services, where this is unavoidable, and where this enables them to continue providing the best possible care for the most vulnerable people. Our Ethical Framework sets out the principles to be followed in any prioritisation decisions and the guidance sets a clear expectation that any local authority decision to operate under the easements will be carefully considered, taken only as a last resort and well documented.

In addition, the plan advises that decisions relating to Care Act easements should be fully communicated to care recipients and providers and reported to the Department of Health and Social Care. The government also highlights that the Secretary of State has the power to direct local authorities to comply with the Ethical Framework and the guidance if necessary.

Elsewhere, the plan sets out how the government is tailoring its plans to the needs of particular groups, including carers, disabled people, and those with sensory impairments. In particular, the plan includes recommendations in relation to direct payments, advising that the government is expecting local authorities and other direct payment holders to adopt a more flexible approach to the use of direct payments in order to support individuals’ independence.

For more information, see Coronavirus (COVID-19): adult social care action plan from gov.uk