Following discussions between key representatives of the independent homecare sector and senior departmental officials both sides have reiterated their commitment to: protecting staff and following the expert advice on infection control; working jointly to ensure the provision of appropriate PPE to the frontline; and maximising the contribution that valued home care workers are making to those who are vulnerable.
In addition the Department made clear:
- That the sector must be viewed as an equal partner in the battle against COVID-19
- That the Department would support recruitment to the sector, including through minimising burdens and speeding up pre-employment checks
- That specific support would be in place for the sector, including to help ensure financial stability
All those involved agreed on the need for ongoing partnership and close liaison during the extremely challenging situation.
Health Minister Robin Swann stated: “I very much welcome these discussions and give my personal commitment that we will work together as equal partners with independent providers.
“We all share the same objectives – caring for the old, the ill and the vulnerable and looking after our staff. This is a fast-moving and deeply anxious situation.
“Decisions that would normally take months are being taken almost instantly. We won’t always get everything 100% right but we will do our best.”
The Minister added: “Let me assure everyone across all parts of health and social care that I hear their concerns about PPE loud and clear. Concrete action is being taken on Northern Ireland’s supply of PPE and on its distribution across health and social care services. Further action is also being taken to provide advice to all frontline workers.”
Responding, Douglas Adams, CEO Connected Health, speaking on behalf of a number of the larger providers, said: “The Department has responded to our concerns in a responsive and focused manner. Our paramount focus remains our vulnerable clients and our staff who are delivering exemplar care in what are difficult and anxious times for everyone. Despite facing unprecedented pressures we must work together to get through them. We look forward to working with the Department over the coming weeks and months in the fight against this pandemic.”
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