High summer Covid rates threatened Notts care system

Nottinghamshire County Council headquarters.
By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

High Covid infection rates across parts of Nottinghamshire last month caused “significant disruption” to care services in the county.

Twenty-eight active outbreaks within the care setting had been detected in one daily review, causing issues to staffing levels and impacting home care provision.

Nottinghamshire County Council documents say the surging infection rates throughout the summer caused staff absences to “threaten” the overall system.

Some areas, including Mansfield and Ashfield, have recorded among the highest infection rates in England over recent weeks.

And the council says outbreaks within care homes are “linked directly” to Covid circulating within the community, with cases causing a strain on service provision.

Throughout July and early August, self-isolation and Covid infections caused staffing to drop in both council-run and private sites, as well as causing “considerable service disruption” to the home care workforce.

The documents, due to be reviewed by policy committee next week, say the impact on home care even limited the authority’s ability to support hospital discharges.

This delayed the return of people recovering from illnesses including Covid and piled strain on hospitals.

Many care services also began prioritising services to the highest need, “inevitably [impacting] poorly on people’s wellbeing” due to delays, the council added.

Commenting on the situation in care homes, Nottinghamshire County Council says infections can change on a daily basis, but support has been on offer throughout the pandemic for any site impacted by outbreaks.

A spokesperson said: “Throughout the last 18 months, the incidence of outbreaks in care homes and care settings has fluctuated and is linked directly to Covid-19 circulating in the community.

“At times like now where rates are higher, so are outbreaks in institutions including care homes.

“This changes on a daily basis, and a multi-disciplinary team, which includes health partners, supports every outbreak that occurs.”

The council added its public health teams continue to work with care homes to “actively manage any cases”, and to ensure control measures are in place.

It comes after the Government relaxed the rules for frontline NHS and care staff told to self-isolate.

The changes meant self-isolation could be avoided and replaced with daily negative lateral flow tests, helping to “alleviate pressure on NHS and social care services”, the Government says.

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