Knowsley Council has confirmed that it will give an additional £640,000 to be shared across eligible care homes in the borough to help cover the cost of empty beds due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
This is in addition to the £2.4 million the council pledged to support the sector in April.
To stop the spread of the virus and to protect existing residents, many homes have had to close to new admissions. This means that some are suffering from a significant reduction in income, which is creating an additional financial burden at what is already an incredibly difficult time.
This new funding from the council is available to homes that closed as a result of Infection Prevention Control measures and that have seen their occupancy levels fall below 90% as a result. The money will be used to cover the costs of empty beds which will help them to remain financially sustainable as they continue to deal with the pandemic.
Cllr Sean Donnelly, Knowsley Council Cabinet Member for Health & Social Care said: “Care Homes have been front and centre in dealing with this pandemic. Their residents’ vulnerability to this terrible virus means that owners, managers and carers have had incredible pressure placed upon them and this pressure is continuing.
“When we pledged our original package of support we said we would keep this under review and continue to work closely with our homes to understand the issues they are facing and support wherever we can. That is what we have done and will continue to do. This latest funding announcement demonstrates that we are listening to their issues and responding.
“The council is still facing a potential budget black hole of over £20 million but we will not stand by and let care homes struggle if we can help. We continue to lobby the Government to provide us with the funding we need to manage this crisis locally and that work continues to be a priority.”
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Knowsley Council has been working closely with care homes to support them with everything from advice on infection control and PPE, to mental health support for staff. Daily phone calls are made to all homes with outbreaks, along with regular teleconferences with staff to check that homes are coping under the pressures they face and have adequate stocks of PPE and other essential items.
This latest announcement of local authority funding comes as the council begins to distribute the first instalment of the £1.4 million allocated to Knowsley as part of the Government’s £600 million Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund.
Announced in May, this fund aims to support providers to reduce the rate of transmission in and between care homes and support wider workforce resilience. Knowsley’s allocation is based on the number of care home beds in the borough according to the CQC. Administered locally by the council, the first wave of funding is being received by care homes this week with the second instalment due in July. Although the funding has been welcomed there is some concern that the criteria attached to it might mean some care homes don’t get their full allocation.
Cllr Donnelly added: “Some of the restrictions and deadlines set by Government definitely create a challenge for our care homes. For example, local authorities are only allowed to release the second instalment of funding when homes can evidence that the first payment has been spent in full. And they have to do that in less than a month! Given the pressures these homes are facing and the practical processing time for invoices and payments they are really up against it.
Added to that, the guidance prevents spend on things like PPE – which doesn’t seem to make sense when the purpose of the fund is to prevent transmission of the virus. As always seems to be the case, the devil is in the detail, but we are doing whatever we possibly can to help our homes receive as much support as is possible.”