Liverpool City Council is to cover the pay of workers in the adult social work sector who are self-isolating or off sick due to coronavirus.
The move – believed to be among the first in the country by a local authority – is part of an initial £6 million package of emergency measures approved by the council’s Cabinet on 21 April, designed to support adult social care providers through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding will help care homes and home care providers with increases in demand and costs arising from their response to the virus.
The aim is to give them a level of financial security and cash flow so they can operate effectively, including:
· Paying staff who are self-isolating due to coronavirus their full wage (not those shielding) · Covering the cost of sickness, overtime and employing additional agency staff · Supplying additional PPE to staff in line with government guidance
The proposals have been developed in partnership with partners to support the sector, ease the financial burden and fund the additional costs anticipated until the end of June.
The costs are being paid as the equivalent of one week’s worth of contract which can then be used over the next few months to meet the needs of residents and service users.
Other measures approved include:
· Paying for home care and supported living based on ‘planned’ level of activity, rather than on the basis of the hours delivered. This will secure a steady and ongoing supply of homecare in the city to meet the expected increase in demand at the peak of the pandemic
· Making a one week block payment to residential and nursing homes to cover the costs of lower occupancy rates due to an outbreak or infection control measures such as not taking in new residents
· Maintaining payments for day support services and community support services (which have significantly reduced) at pre-pandemic levels so they can retain buildings and services
· Paying homelessness services such as temporary accommodation, domestic abuse refuges, rehabilitation services and rough sleeping services equivalent to one week’s contract value to cover the cost of extra staffing and providing food to service users
· Speeding up payments or paying in advance rather than arrears to improve cash flow
Separately, the council has already invested £10.7 million to cover the cost of wage inflation and the increase in the National Living Wage (NLW) across the sector, as well as specialist services such as homelessness, advocacy services and mental health.
Cabinet member for adult social care, Councillor Paul Brant, said: “Our adult social care organisations are right on the frontline with the NHS in handling the response to the coronavirus pandemic and it is absolutely vital we provide them with the support they need to get them through the current crisis.
“We have worked in partnership with the sector to come up with a comprehensive set of proposals to ease the strain on their finances over the next few months and give them as much flexibility as possible.
“This includes a commitment to give them extra funding to cover the cost of paying in full those staff who can’t work because they are self-isolating or recovering from COVID-19.
“We are determined to make sure the thousands of people supported in care homes and at home – those who are our neighbours, our relatives and our friends – continue to get the services they need so they continue living in safety and comfort.”