Last reviewed 22 September 2020

The Government has published its Adult Social Care: our COVID-19 Winter Plan 2020 to 2021, setting out the key elements of national support available for the social care sector for winter 2020 to 2021 as well as main actions for local authorities, NHS organisations and social care providers to take.

The plan offers support to care homes and domiciliary services through the winter months, giving more certainty when it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE) and additional support to help care homes limit the movement of staff and stop the spread of coronavirus.

Under the plan, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will provide free personal protective equipment (PPE) for Covid-19 needs in line with current guidance to care homes and domiciliary care providers, via the PPE portal, until the end of March 2021.

It will also provide free PPE to local resilience forums who wish to continue PPE distribution, and to local authorities in other areas, to distribute to social care providers ineligible for supply via the PPE portal, until the end of March 2021.

Care homes and domiciliary services will be able to access an extra £546 million as part of an extension to the Infection Control Fund (ICF) so they can pay care workers full sick pay if they have to self-isolate.

Care home providers are also being encouraged to use the funding to increase their workforce to limit staff moving between different care homes, unless absolutely necessary, to help reduce the spread of infection. This includes reviewing exclusivity arrangements with recruitment agencies and considering the recruitment of additional staff over the winter period.

The Government is appointing a new Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care to provide clinical leadership to the social care nursing workforce and setting up a dashboard for local, regional and national government to monitor care home infections.

There is also a pledge to strengthen the monitoring and regulation of care providers by local authorities and the Care Quality Commission, which includes asking them to take strong action where improvement is required or staff movement is not being restricted. This will include restricting a service’s operation, issuing warning notices or placing conditions on a provider’s registration.

The new winter plan is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adult-social-care-coronavirus-covid-19-winter-plan-2020-to-2021.