North Yorkshire County Council is recruiting hundreds of care workers and buying up care home beds in an emergency move to free up hospital space for critically ill coronavirus patients.
Almost 400 new care workers are needed and others are being asked to come out of retirement as the region braces for more coronavirus cases with the pandemic’s predicted peak imminent.
The county council’s Director for Health and Adult Services, Richard Webb, said the care plans are designed to keep the county’s most vulnerable people safe, whilst reducing hospital admissions and freeing up beds for patients who need them the most.
He said: “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.
“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.”
The county council’s chief officer has also used new emergency powers to approve even more far-reaching plans, which could see the council’s social care workforce shift its focus to coronavirus patients if the NHS were to become overwhelmed.
Mr Webb said on Wednesday: “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.”
And alongside the fast-tracked recruitment programme, the council is also redeploying its staff from other departments into the adult social care sector.
It is also purchasing around 200 additional care home beds across the county – and is asking certain people who have direct payments or individual service funds to organise their own care.
The council said its existing frontline social care teams are also helping staff at Harrogate Hospital and GPs to ease pressure on the NHS.
Some changes have also been made to day and respite care services – partly as a result of the national lockdown and social distancing measures – in response to the need to provide hospital and care home beds to those people most in need.
Mr Webb said: “We have been working around the clock to prepare our services to meet the urgent challenge presented by covid-19.
“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.” [kofi]