- Coun Keith Cunliffe speaks about his admiration for unsung heroes in social care sector
- Wigan Council sources its own PPE for staff amid calls for government to step up its national supply chain
- Deliveries have been made to all care homes and supported living facilities with council bosses pledging to do all they can to help
Dedicated social care staff in Wigan Borough have been hailed as unsung heroes as they continue to provide crucial support for the most vulnerable during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The deputy leader of Wigan Council has spoken of his admiration for workers across the social care sector in the borough’s 52 care homes and other supported living facilities.
It comes as the council has stepped up its own rollout of personal protective equipment (PPE) amid concerns the national supply chain is currently insufficient.
Wigan Council is continuing to offer direct support to all care homes and care providers in the borough.
Thousands of staff are caring for residents around the clock, many of whom are the most vulnerable to becoming critically ill from Covid-19.
Coun Keith Cunliffe, who is also the council’s lead for adult social care, said the borough owes a huge debt of gratitude to its carers.
He said: “We hold our care workers in the highest esteem for the job that they do and the difference they make to the lives of our residents.
“But the dedication and compassion with which they are tackling the Covid-19 crisis has taken my respect for them to a new level.”
Set against a backdrop of local authority and regional leaders – including the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham – raising concerns about the national supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), the council has sourced its own supplies in recent weeks.
Wigan Council has made at least two deliveries of PPE to all care homes and settings at no cost and with a commitment that more is on the way.
Coun Cunliffe added: “Our care staff are working tirelessly around the clock in challenging circumstances to provide the best possible care for the people in our borough who are most vulnerable to Covid-19.
“We are doing all we can to support these businesses and staff to help them through this most challenging time.”
As well as making sure any poorly residents are cared for, staff have also been ensuring residents remain happy, healthy and active with activities such as daily exercise and fitness, art and baking and doorway bingo.
They have been supporting residents with staying in touch with family and friends through video chats and some residents have been sending specially made postcards to keep in touch with their loved ones.
A new team has been created to help people get home quickly and safely from hospital, this includes rapid response homecare within two hours of someone being discharged from hospital.
Two floors of the Mercure Hotel have also been utilised to support vulnerable residents including people who have been discharged from hospital and the homeless.
Coun Cunliffe said that staff had not been helped by failures in national supply chains of PPE to get to care homes in sufficient quantities but that the council will do all it can to help.
He added: “We continue to be desperately concerned about the lack of supplies from Government of PPE to our workers in social care and homecare sector in Wigan Borough.
“So far the national PPE supply chain has been chaotic with previous drops being insufficient to meet demand and leaving councils like ours with no choice but to try and source their own supplies.
“The Health Secretary’s statement and action plan of a stepped-up national supply chain is welcome but we need this to be implemented as soon as possible to protect all frontline workers.
“At Wigan Council we have sourced 50,000 masks a week through a private company but given the increasing demands on the workforce this is not a sustainable solution.
“We look forward to greater support from the Government to ensure our caring heroes have all the protection and support they need to carry out their vital jobs in this challenging time.”
Coun Cunliffe welcomed that all care home staff and patients with symptoms are soon to be offered tests but urged that it needed to be rolled out as quickly as possible.