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Care providers must be treated the same as other healthcare workers, says Chief Social Worker in Northern Ireland

"There can be no distinction in this regard between those directly working for Trusts and those who work for organisations on behalf of those Trusts. We have to be as one.”

Home care providers call on Longford's elected representatives  to support emergency measures during Covid-19 crisis

The Department of Health has published updated guidance for domiciliary care providers in Northern Ireland.

The guidance provides direction to trusts and independent providers on supply of PPE and staffing arrangements.

This includes the provision of a buffer stock; connecting independent providers with PPE suppliers; and supporting staffing arrangements.

Chief Social Worker Sean Holland said: “Domiciliary care plays a vital role in helping people to live as independently as possible. During this pandemic it is essential that we do everything we can to support it. That is why we have issued this new guidance.

“This is the latest in a series of measures taken to help domiciliary care and care homes to meet the challenge of Covid-19.”

Measures have included:

- Providing a single point of contact in each of the trusts for accessing PPE;
- Financial support – guaranteeing income for providers to ensure they can continue to pay staff and are not penalised for cancelled calls;
- Making recruitment swifter and easier by changing pre-employment checks and deferring registration fees;
- Flexibility in the way regulations will be applied; and
- Ongoing support advice and help from a specialist team of experts based in the RQIA.

Mr Holland said: “There has been a lot of focus on the idea that some jobs are key and the people who do them are key workers.

"Let there be no doubt that care workers fall into that category.

"Regardless of who employs them, we must recognise them as all being members of the health and social care family.

"And as members of that family they must have the same access to PPE, testing and advice as HSC Trust staff in line with published guidance.

"There can be no distinction in this regard between those directly working for Trusts and those who work for organisations on behalf of those Trusts. We have to be as one.”

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