Major changes made to North Yorkshire social care services to cope with Covid-19

County Hall, Northallerton.

North Yorkshire County Council is making changes to the way its social care teams operate to better support local residents during the Covid-19 crisis.

Officials say that while most of its services will be unchanged for now, significant changes will be made elsewhere to help local hospitals free up the beds they need to treat people who are critically ill and to try and avoid new admissions to hospital or 24-hour care unless vital.

From this week, North Yorkshire County Council’s social care teams are providing a seven-day-a-week 8am-8pm service:

  • Working with our main hospitals in Harrogate, Northallerton and Scarborough to support emergency discharges for people – they will also be linking into hospitals in Keighley, Middlesbrough and York, too, for same reasons;
  • Working with community health staff and GPs, based around groups of GP practices, to ensure emergency support and treatment for people in the community with Covid-19;
  • Support for people in the community with social care needs not related to Covid-19.

Some changes have also been made to day and respite care services, partly as a result of the national lockdown and social distancing measures and also in response to the need to provide sufficient hospital and care home beds to those people most in need.

In addition, the county council’s chief executive, using emergency powers, has also approved arrangements for even more far-reaching changes.

However, officials say that these changes will only be made if the increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths in North Yorkshire reaches the point where the impact on the community, the NHS and social care is so great that the county council has to re-prioritise its social care work to focus primarily on supporting people with Covid-19 and any other urgent needs that people have.

Similar arrangements are being put in place by councils around the country, as a contingency, after Parliament approved the special measures set out in the Coronavirus Act 2020.

“Our focus now is to keep people safe and well and to prevent admissions to hospital and to 24 hour care, wherever possible, so they can be used for people who are critically ill with Covid-19”, said Richard Webb, North Yorkshire’s director for health and adult services.

“Although North Yorkshire so far has not seen as many Covid-19 cases as in other parts of the country, numbers are increasing and we are starting to support more people with Covid in the community.

“We would like to thank people for their patience where we have already had to make changes to services and we are doing our best to stay in touch and keep support going, even if this has to be done in a different way.

“We hope that we do not have to put in place the more radical measures that have been agreed today, but we have them available if we need to use them.

The county council is taking the following urgent steps to alleviate potential pressures brought about by Covid-19 and the increased demand for services:

  • Recruiting to an additional 395 posts, both within the County Council and the wider care sector, with a rapid recruitment process and a campaign to attract people to adult social care positions from other sectors of the economy negatively affected by Covid-19:;
  • Re-deployment from other parts of the council to support adult social care;
  • Bringing social care workers back from retirement;
  • Purchasing around 200 additional care home beds across North Yorkshire;
  • Contacting and supporting people who have direct payments or individual service funds to organise their own care;
  • Informing people of potential changes to any financial contributions they may make to the cost of care services and signposting people to its online financial assessment service:

In addition, for people who do not necessarily require social care or NHS services, but who cannot be supported by family or friends, the county council is working with partners to provide advice and support, including through a network of 23 community hubs, led by the voluntary sector

“We have been working around the clock to prepare our services to meet the urgent challenge presented by Covid-19,” said Richard Webb.

“We are extremely grateful to people who use our services, and to all of our staff, partner agencies and volunteers who are pulling together to meet this national emergency.

“So many people are making a very big contribution to help others.

“To support this effort, we will continue to urge our residents to play their part in keeping safe and well by following the Government regulations – stay home, stay safe, wash your hands, look out for friends and family and if you must go out for essential trips, please keep at least two metres (seven feet) away from other people.”

People in need of support should contact the county council customer services centre on 01609 780780.

The centre is open seven days a week from 8am to 5.30pm.

The Emergency Duty Team is available from 5.30pm till 8am in the morning for social care emergencies.

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