Care Home in Wokingham are usually run by private or voluntary sector service providers. Wokingham Borough Council has a responsibility to support the needs of the individual and maintain the financial sustainability of the social care market. It does not have a direct responsibility to manage an outbreak within a Wokingham Care Home but has continued to support providers to manage outbreaks during the pandemic.
From the start of the pandemic the Council has worked proactively to deliver support and advice to the care homes and other care settings in the Borough. Adult Social Care has provided support to care homes, through its Care Home Task Force, providing guidance on infection control, support with PPE, distribution of Government grant funding and immediate, targeted support in the event of Covid-19 outbreaks.
My question is, is the Council satisfied that it has worked just as proactively to deliver support and advice to our residents and businesses in the vicinity of the care homes where there has been reported cases of infection and sadly loss of life in the Borough.
Care homes have been particularly vulnerable to Covid 19 outbreaks but most of all at times when rates of infection are high in the community. High community rates of transmission increase the risk that staff or residents leaving the care home contract the virus, with subsequent onward transmission within the care home setting, amongst those who are elderly and vulnerable.
Outbreaks in Care Homes have been managed effectively and contained through all the necessary infection control measures and public health action to manage this risk of community transmission.
Throughout the pandemic, the Council has worked in partnership with local residents and businesses to minimise the risk of community transmission. Measures have been introduced throughout Wokingham, including physical barriers to manage pedestrian flows, signage, targeted communication and Covid Marshalls.
The activity of the Marshalls has been directed by Public Health data and local intelligence to ensure resources are deployed where they have been needed. This obviously includes when we have had large outbreaks. Our Covid Support Team works closely with the Police, Localities and Town and Parishes to ensure community compliance and we have completed over 3,000 business and safety inspections.
Wokingham’s local Case Tracing Service, which is part of the NHS Test and Trace system, has enabled the Council to ensure welfare needs are understood and that residents have been signposted to services to support their needs. At the time of writing, we have made 416 successful self-isolation calls. That has led to 101 people being referred to the One Front Door System for further support. The service aims to reach residents within the Borough to ensure that support and guidance is made available in a timely fashion to support isolation.
In addition to this we have launched our lateral flow rapid testing programme to all keyworkers in the Borough, there are currently two centres open with a third due to open shortly. The aim of this is that they can work safely, and we can better control and identify the risk of the spread of infection. So far this has done more than 4,000 tests.
Where we have seen Care Home outbreaks, the Council has targeted resources within the local community. This has included Marshal Patrols and an addition in signage, with staff working alongside local residents and businesses to highlight risks and to ensure compliance. For example, when there was an outbreak at the Shinfield View care home we arranged daily Covid Marshals patrols and located four large temporary feather signs in Shinfield outside key shops and the garage and a number of additional standard signs to reassure the community, and to try and send the right messages out locally.