Responding to the release of data from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Hugh Alderwick, Head of Policy at the Health Foundation, said:
‘New data from CQC again show the grim toll that the pandemic has taken on people in care homes. People with care needs have faced higher risk from COVID-19 than the general population. And the effects of COVID-19 on care homes have been closely linked to the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community – with some areas hit harder than others.
‘But what national policymakers do to protect social care still matters – and the scale of the impact of COVID-19 on social care was not inevitable. Central government support for social care during the pandemic was often too little, too late, particularly during the first wave. The government's claim of ‘a protective ring’ around care homes was not grounded in reality.
‘The social care system that entered the pandemic was underfunded, understaffed, and undervalued – scarred by decades of political neglect. These longstanding structural issues shaped the policy response to COVID-19 and effects of the pandemic on the system.
‘The prime minister must deliver his commitment to reform adult social care in England and bring forward plans to do so this year. This reform must be comprehensive – not narrowly focused on preventing older people selling their homes to pay for care – including measures to improve staff pay and conditions and increase access to publicly funded social care.’