COVID-19: home care providers resort to crowdfunding to buy PPE for staff

Nurses in all settings still waiting on personal protective equipment, says RCN general secretary

Picture: PA​​

Home care providers have resorted to crowdfunding to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, in the absence of sufficient supplies from the government.

Last week, NHS England said every home care provider, care home and hospice would receive deliveries of ‘at least 300 facemasks’, but some providers have said this is not enough.

Appeal for masks, disposable gloves, aprons and sanitising gel

Care Network Group director Katrina Green launched an appeal on the fundraising website Just Giving to raise £50,000 to protect those caring for people in the community in Torbay and South Devon. The company brings domiciliary care providers together to improve care delivery for the local population.

She wrote: ‘Collectively we are providing over 8,000 hours of care per week to vulnerable patients in the community – the average visit is 30 minutes, which means that we require 16,000 masks per week and 192,000 over a 12-week lockdown.’

Ms Green said supplies needed urgently included masks, disposable gloves, aprons, eye goggles, overshoes and sanitising gel.

Widespread lack of vital resources

UK Homecare Association chief executive Jane Townson said most providers of home care were still struggling to get any PPE.

In other areas, DIY stores have donated eye protection to hospital and community teams.

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘It is completely unacceptable that weeks into this crisis, there are colleagues in all settings – hospitals, community or care homes – who have not been provided with PPE.

‘I am hearing from nurses who are treating patients in COVID-19 wards without any protection at all. This cannot continue. They are putting themselves, their families and their patients at risk.’

The RCN has said it will not accept anything less than aprons, gloves and masks for all staff, in all settings, but Professor Kinnair said that was a minimum – and even that level of protection has yet to be provided.

Urgent action and equipment ‘needed now’

‘Every minute we wait is a minute too long,’ she said. ‘All nursing staff, no matter where they work, must feel safe. We need action, we need equipment, we need it now.’

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said the government was working around the clock to provide NHS and social care staff with PPE.

‘The full weight of the government is behind this effort and we are working closely with industry, social care providers, the NHS, NHS Supply Chain and the army, so all our NHS and care staff have the protection they deserve,’ they said.

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