RAPID RESPONSE EMERGENCY MODEL
The Covid -19 Virus has now developed with a new highly transmissible strain and a third wave has affected our communities. National and local lockdown measures have increased once again and, the risk to our HSCP social care teams has increased even further. There has been an ongoing recognition and fear within Dumfries & Galloway social care management teams that there needs to be a network established to ensure the support of their staff teams and ultimately the continued provision of services to the most vulnerable members of our community. It was understood the reliance of support from our NHS colleagues was untenable due to acute services being at their capacity and management of the vaccine rollout. To mitigate risk management to the social care sector, to protect individuals accessing the services and to protect the NHS services a test of change was required.
At multiple meetings involving the partners of the Independent and 3rd Sector Workforce Development Team, the Care Inspectorate and SSSC both at National and Local level, the HSCP of Dumfries and Galloway, National Workforce and Policy Lead and the Transforming Workforce Lead for Scottish Care, it was agreed that the development of a ‘Rapid Response Network’ was necessary and essential. Some of our Social Care providers had experienced and are experiencing large numbers of staff and at times whole teams being taken out of service due to Sickness, Test and Protect as well as isolation and shielding purposes. This increased the potential for a higher incident risk across the sector and ultimately placing more pressure on an already stretched NHS. It was established that there needed to be a system put in place to maintain the provision of a basic service to individuals in need of care. This provision of care can be provided by trained staff already working within the social care sector and across Dumfries and Galloway. Specialist providers, Care at Home and Care home managers, area and regional managers and directors have agreed to support one another during these unprecedented times. Subsequently, the Care Inspectorate, SSSC and D&G HSCP have agreed this essential service can be delivered.
This model will utilise existing staff to support the workforce and to minimize risk to patient care due to reduced workforce, by allowing providers to work flexibly with one another. This model is only for use in emergency situations and when the providers own contingency plans have been exhausted. A review of this pilot model could potentially consider options to support Home Teams with a rapid response from the social care sector. In order to access this Network providers have to be contracted with the HSCP and sign a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to the terms. Providers are expected to follow the guidance regarding Infection Control measures in order to mitigate risk of infection.
In September 2019, Scottish Care initiated Strategic Independent, Third Sector Workforce Forum, supported by Vic McDade, NHS Sustainability and Development Manager. This forum was developed initially to bring social care providers together to work collaboratively with partners, to explore opportunities to expand the Social Care workforce, raise the profile of Social Care across Dumfries and Galloway and share experiences. It was also hoping to develop positive public perception and to evidence Career Pathways within health and social care. This group split into a Short Life Working Group to consider an emergency response to the rapid rise in Covid cases and met on several occasions to discuss a model of support for one another.
In December 2020, guidance was published by COSLA and Scot Gov (2020) regarding financial support for social care providers. This document contains information to support the ‘potential for staff to deliver another service/support temporarily’. The guidance states that there should be collaborative working between providers and commissioners in order to facilitate a clear understanding of what is required.
It is envisaged that once this network has been established it will be able to provide support across the social care services for any emergencies when they arise. With the potential, if successful, for a National Framework to be developed. It is hoped that this collaboration of teams across Dumfries & Galloway will strengthen the social care services for the future. This proposed model also covers many of the points from the ‘9 Pillars of Integrated Care’ including ‘workforce capacity and capability’, ‘shared values and vision’ and ‘system wide governance and leadership’ (International Foundation for Integrated Care, 2020).