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A leading care provider in Sheffield has called on Sheffield City Council to step up to the plate and help the fight against COVID-19.

Nicola Richards, Director of Palms Row Health Care, which operates three nursing homes in the city, said:

“Care homes across the country are fighting for residents’ lives like never before. Words cannot describe how difficult the conditions are on the front line, many homes operate as an extension of the hospital system without adequate support.

“We are aghast at the lack of support we have seen from Sheffield City Council. It has got to the point now where we don’t even get replies to messages to officials asking for help.

“We need improved PPE, more access to swab testing kits, faster access to more staff and volunteers, simplification of communication from government bodies as well as financial and moral support from local authorities and politicians.”

Nicola Richards, who set up the Sheffield Care Association, wrote to Council leaders on Tuesday 7 April 2020 to explain the problems they are facing. As providers face such challenges Nicola Richards highlights the steps care homes across the city need the Council to take.

The plan includes:

- Urgent financial payment from the Council to support emergency costs.

- Ability to offer pay incentives and support to permanent staff throughout this period.

- Ability to cover staff reductions with agency usage.

- Assistance with recruitment of staff and volunteers.

- Co-ordination of distribution of PPE to care homes and swab testing kits.

- Guidance on reduced bureaucracy and administration to allow frontline staff to deliver hands on care.

- Assistance with communications and IT during lockdown of homes and staff shortages

Richards added:

“At Palms Row, we have a sister healthcare agency company so have access to temporary workers. The agency is also supporting the homes with temporary recruitment however it is still incredibly challenging right now. Many providers do not have this and I fear the pressure they will be under during an outbreak. As providers we need to work closely together during this time to support each other as the situation intensifies.

“With Sheffield having so many cases of COVID-19, we are the canary in the mine and our situation should be a wake-up call for the rest of the country.”

Image by Mark Walker, licensed under Creative Commons via Flickr.

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