Further Measures to Help Protect Care Homes

Date published: 15 May 2020

Health Minister Robin Swann has launched guidance for care homes on a proposed new model ‘Safe at Home’.

‘Safe at Home’ provides enhanced advice and approach to preventing the spread of infection in the care homes.

The Minister again paid tribute to all those working in the care home sector.

He said: “I have been clear that I will constantly seek ways to help keep care home staff, and the vulnerable people they care for, safe and well in the face of the current pandemic.

“As part of this, I am determined that we have access to the most up-to-date best practice guidance on protecting our most vulnerable citizens.  My Department is continuing to review emerging national and international evidence to consider what more we can do to protect people living in care homes and the staff working in them.”

The ‘Safe at Home’ model involves supporting staff who are able to volunteer to work on a rota basis and to ‘live-in’, either in the care home itself or at a self-contained location nearby.

The Minister continued: This model will build on other initiatives already taking place in the sector, including expanded testing and additional support to the sector by the Health and Social Care service.

“I fully recognise that adopting this model will not be possible in all homes.  It will require a significant degree of additional commitment from staff, at a time when they are already giving so much.  However, this will allow us to learn lessons from the approach so that we can roll out more widely. 

Concluding, the Minister encouraged homes, who can safely meet the additional requirements, to consider volunteering to participate in the pilot.  He said: “This has the real potential to help us identify what works in controlling infection spread and protecting care home residents.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Safe at Home model is available on the Department of Health’s website and has been issued to all registered care home providers.
  2. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email: pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk. Out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.
  3. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt.

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