Care leaders condemn “pay to visit” testing

The Independent Care Group today condemned plans to make care and nursing home visitors pay for Covid-19 tests.

The ICG has urged the Government to reverse the proposal which it said was penalising those who had suffered enough.

Free Covid-19 tests will end in April but people visiting loved ones in care settings, including care and nursing homes, will still need a test to visit.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Caring families have suffered enough without having this further indignity thrust upon them. This is penalising those who have suffered enough already.

“This cost is going to fall on those who are doing that most precious and vital thing – visiting a loved one. It is wrong on every level and shows the flagrant disregard the Government has for the care sector.

“If, in a civilised society, we cannot enable people to visit their loved ones without having to bear the cost of measures to keep them safe, then we are in a sorry state indeed.

“What happens to a family – maybe two or three people – who want to visit a beloved father, mother or grandparent two, three or even four times a week? Are we saying unless you pay up you can’t?

“This is treating social care with contempt and we urge the Government to rethink it immediately.”

Earlier this week, the ICG called for a sensible and cautious return to normality for the care sector and for greater support.
Mr Padgham warned: “The world has changed since the pandemic began, social care is on its knees and is going to need some help to live with Covid.

“As a country we want to get back to normality as soon as we can and that includes those people who rely on care in their own homes or who live in care and nursing homes.

“But to achieve that we have to remain cautious and as a society not forget that Covid-19 hasn’t gone away and still poses a risk, particularly to vulnerable people. I welcome the extra booster.

“I know that things like masks, social distancing, hyper-scrupulous hygiene and other measures will remain amongst care providers as we ensure care settings remain safe settings.

“And to do that we are going to need support. There cannot be a lazy assumption that everything is as it was before.

“The landscape has changed since Covid-19 arrived, social care has suffered greatly and seen tragic loss. We have experienced a hemorrhaging of staff like never before and we must tackle that now.

“Social care providers have been struggling financially now for more than a decade and Covid-19 has left many on their knees.

“The huge added costs associated with Covid-19, followed by falling occupancy levels, an increased use of agency staff and now rapidly increasing utility costs, are just some of the financial pressures providers are now facing. It is a fight for survival and as part of its plan for living with Covid, the Government will have to recognise that.”