CHIEF Social Worker Sean Holland has underlined the essential role social care will play in supporting vulnerable people in the weeks and months ahead.
Mr Holland also confirmed that updated Covid-19 guidance has been issued to the care home and domiciliary care sectors.
He said: “I have no doubt that the importance of social care to society is going to be demonstrated as never before. In expressing my thanks to every single social care worker, I also have to stress that they will really need the public to work with them during this extremely challenging period.”
The Chief Social Worker continued: “The Department of Health, alongside other parts of Government are stepping up a major programme to ensure that vulnerable people in communities are supported. This is not something that the HSC can deliver on its own, it will require everyone in society to support this effort.
“There has already been a huge response by local people in local communities to provide a helping hand to those who most need it. This is already making an invaluable difference to the quality of people’s lives during these challenging times. We want to harness and build on that energy and goodwill to ensure no-one is left on their own.”
Anyone supporting a person self-isolating, whether through an informal or formal arrangement must practice good infection control. Free online training on infection control can be accessed here: https://learningzone.niscc.info/learning-resources/96/supporting-good-infection-control
Setting out advice relating to the care home and domiciliary care sectors, Mr Holland said: “It is important that people work with care homes as they limit the number of visitors and follow the guidance they provide. We have been clear that homes should work hard to support continued contact with families, be that by telephone, FaceTime or Skype.
“However, those in receipt of domiciliary care should continue to let carers into their homes. This is a vital service for those receiving it. If neither the care worker nor the individual receiving care and support has symptoms, then the advice of the infection control experts is that no protective equipment is required above and beyond normal good hygiene practices – including thorough hand washing.
“It is important that relatives and friends help reinforce this message and that people do not put themselves at risk by turning down domiciliary care support.
“Care homes and domiciliary care providers are likely to face challenging staff shortages which we will work with them to address. Ongoing family support will be crucial as we coordinate staff resources and look to deploy volunteers, where it is safe and effective to do so.”
Mr Holland also stated that the £30 fee for new social care workers to register with the Northern Ireland Social Council will be deferred for six months.