To consider a Covid update in relation to Public Health and Adult Social Care.
The Sub-committee received a Covid 19 update covering public health and adult social care.
It was noted that the Delta/Indian variant of concern had been detected in the Borough. The Borough is currently an outlier for Covid rates and rates are high, but much lower than rates reached during previous peaks, and considerably lower than those areas with the highest rates such as Bolton and Blackburn. The case rate for the last 7 days is 71.2 per 100,000 based on 148 positive cases. It was noted that the infection rate for the 5-34 age group is double the rate for the borough overall, with young people under 20 driving the infection rate. This is a reflection of low vaccination rates in young people.
The Sub-committee noted the extra measures that had been put in place to address the issue, including surge testing facilities in three areas. It was noted that a small number of positive cases had been found as a result of surge testing and follow up action was being taken to provide advice on self isolation and to identify close contacts.
In relation to care homes, following 8 weeks with no positive cases, there are currently three cases with two of these asymptomatic and one resident who had symptoms but had not been vaccinated.
In relation to current outbreaks, it was noted that the majority of these related to schools, work places and sporting clubs. At the moment there has not been an impact on hospital admissions. It was noted that the current variant was providing to be more transmissible with a very high transmission rate within households.
There was some discussion about the relevance of the R number. It was noted that the R number provides a picture of what is happening on a national level but is less useful at a local level and more real time data is now available to give a more accurate picture of what is happening at a local level.
A member raised an issue about the recent misunderstanding over travel restrictions in the borough. It was noted that this issue had been clarified after discussions with central government.
Members asked about the effectiveness of the in-house test and trace system. It was noted that the small team was acting in combination with Public Health England in relation to complex cases. It was noted that the local team had a completion rate of 95% which was higher than the national system, although the national system has improved. It was noted that using a local number to contact people can be more effective and also there was a final option to directly visit people if necessary.
There was some discussion about the isolation pilot. It was noted that there was an extended financial scheme which was available to anyone financially disadvantaged by the need to isolate, and also regular contact from the local team and the introduction of shopping vouchers for families.
In relation to Adult Social Care, the sub-committee received an update on support to care homes. It was noted that there is currently one care home in an outbreak situation and advice and support on infection control has been provided.
In relation to vacancy rates, it was noted that one home has recently closed with residents moved to its sister home.
It was noted that the Council continues to offer support to promote vaccinations to care homes and their staff. It was noted that there is currently a government consultation on whether vaccination should be a condition of employment for care homes and some care homes are making vaccination a condition for new staff. It was also noted that infection control, including vaccine rates, will be included in quality monitoring visits which are due to begin again in the near future.
It was noted that CQC registered providers are able to access free PPE through a government portal.
There was some discussion about additional financial support that has been made available to care providers, including the Infection Control Fund and funding to cover staff sickness. It was noted that funding has been made available on a periodic basis with allocations based on numbers of beds and linked to specific grant criteria. It was noted that infection control funding was specifically for infection control within the home and did not cover workforce absence. A member raised concern about sick pay for staff in care homes. It was noted that individual terms and conditions will vary depending on individual employers but the Council would expect all employers to meet statutory requirements. Members asked if a report could be brought to the next meeting to set out the additional financial allocations via the various grants that have made to care providers in the borough
That officers be asked to provide a report to the next meeting setting out the additional financial allocations that have been made to care providers in the Borough during the pandemic and an explanation of the various grants and grant conditions during this time.