As rules and guidelines develop to reflect the changing situation, we have summarised the announcements which affect housing associations.
This resource will continue to be updated in accordance with the latest guidelines.
Living with covid
The government has now removed all legal restrictions designed to contain coronavirus. In place of the previous Plan A, government put forward its ‘Living with Covid’ plan in February 2022. Some of the guidance has changed since then, with the key points outlined below:
Provision and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
New guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) in adult social care has been published by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).
The resources include information related to four common scenarios and explain what PPE is necessary in each. These situations are as follows:
- Providing care or cleaning the room of someone with suspected or confirmed coronavirus.
- Undertaking care or domestic work, which possibly includes contact with blood or bodily fluids, for someone who is not suspected of having coronavirus.
- Caring for someone who is not suspected to have coronavirus where contact with blood or bodily fluids is unlikely.
- Undertaking domestic duties when the cared for person does not have suspected coronavirus, or providing social contact within a care setting.
Access to PPE guidance remains the same:
- Housing associations that are CQC registered providers will be able to access free PPE until 31 March 2024 or until their stock is depleted. Most primary and social care services can obtain all of their covid-19 PPE via the PPE portal.
- As well as the portal, each local authority or LRF will supply some or all of the following services:
- Local authorities (including children and adult social care workers)
- Mental health community care.
- Personal assistants (LA, CCG commissioned and funded through personal health budgets).
- Domestic violence refuges.
- Rough sleeping services.
- Education (and childcare) services.
- Extra-resident unpaid carers.
- Social and primary care providers on the PPE portal in clinical need – for example, if there’s an increase in local COVID-19 cases or temporary difficulties accessing other distribution channels.
- Local authorities and Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) have also been supporting other sectors that cannot use the PPE portal, including:
- Self-funded personal assistants.
- Supported living.
- Extra care.
- Shared lives.
- Day services.
- We are working to confirm with DLUHC that housing associations who are not CQC registered providers will have guaranteed access to PPE until March 2023. We will keep this page updated as these discussions progress.
Infection control in care and support settings
- People in need of care and their carers should continue to adhere to infection control measures.
DHSC updated their guidance for care homes in December 2022, coming into effect from 22 December 2022.
This includes the removal of the ‘universal masking requirement’. Masking is now only mandatory if:
The person being cared for is known or suspected to have covid-19.
The member of staff is a household or overnight contact of someone who has had a positive covid-19 test.
The care setting is in experiencing an outbreak.
Care homes should remain sensitive to the individual circumstances of residents and respect the preference of staff who wish to still wear a mask.
Outbreak management procedures have also been updated, with adult social care settings now able to initiate their own risk assessments and determine their own outbreak measures. The guidance provides an overview on what to include in a risk assessment, including additional information on when to consider cases linked.
Health Protection Teams (HPT) and other local partners should still be contacted with suspected outbreaks. They can offer support with risk assessments and if there are any areas of concern, such as a higher rate of hospitalisations than expected.
The UK Health Security Agency has guidance around ventilation, cleaning and hygiene.
Many of the principles in the above guidance should also be applied in extra care housing for older people and are a useful resource for the wider supported and sheltered housing sector.
Visiting into and out of care homes
- As of 31 January 2022 there are no limits on the number of visitors allowed into care homes.
- The latest government guidance emphasises the need for care home providers to facilitate visits wherever possible and to do so in a risk managed way. This is achievable by adhering to infection control measures, individualised risk assessments, testing arrangements and insisting on isolation on return from some high-risk activities.
- Most visits out will not require self-isolation on return. Care home residents should not be asked to isolate or take a test following high-risk visits out of the care home including following emergency hospital stays (unless the hospital is in active outbreak).
- Self-isolation periods for residents have been reduced from 14 to a maximum of 10 days. This may be reduced if the resident tests negative on two consecutive days after day 5.
- Under current guidance, care staff are advised not to carry out regular asymptomatic testing.
- Full guidance, including around visitations, can be found in the adult social care supplement.
Updated guidance is available for supported living settings, including information on maintaining service delivery, vaccinations and testing.