Major lessons have to be learned from the way the care of older and vulnerable adults was treated when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK, the Independent Care Group said today.
Today the High Court ruled that government policy towards care homes in England at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic was illegal.
Reacting to the judgement, the ICG said the sector had been badly let down.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “At the start of the pandemic, care and nursing homes were told to continue as normal as the risk to residents was not high.
“We were told to keep accepting hospital discharges even though it turned out, many were coming in to our homes without being tested first.
“The result was that Covid-19 got into care settings with devastating effect and many lives were lost as the pandemic was merciless when it reached those who were older, frail and with other medical conditions.
“Even so, the Government was slow to react, continuing to focus resources – in particular PPE and testing – on NHS settings, rather than care and nursing homes.
“We were badly let down and the Government did the exact opposite of throwing a protective ring around the sector.
“Many lives were tragically lost and our thoughts are with their loved ones – we will never forget them.
“And we pay tribute to the amazing care staff who battled through the pandemic and have been left physically and emotionally scarred by the past two years.”
He said the vital thing now was for lessons to be learned and for the care sector to get the overhaul it needs.
“Even before the pandemic, social care was in crisis and Covid-19 found a sector on its knees, with a dire shortage of funding, a staffing crisis and poor morale – little wonder that Covid-19 had such an impact on the sector,” Mr Padgham added.
“Despite this, care providers worked miracles in keeping their residents safe and were just as much a frontline against the pandemic as their NHS counterparts.
“As we digest today’s ruling and emerge from the pandemic, social care deserves the reform it has been seeking for more than a generation.
“We deserve to see the sector properly funded, merged with NHS care and with a workforce that is properly paid – recognised, respected and rewarded.
“That is the least we should expect after such a devastating two years.”