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Southend Council has announced it has received almost £3million in additional funding to help care homes that are continuing to struggle with the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement comes as official statistics show that deaths linked to the coronavirus are still occurring in the borough’s care homes.
Office for National Statistics data shows that in Southend, 178 deaths involving COVID-19 were registered up to June 13 and of those, 32 occurred outside of hospital – including 25 in care homes and four at private homes.
Last week, deaths outside hospitals increased by two.
Councillor Trevor Harp (Ind), who oversees health, announced the council has received a £2.7million funding boost to support the homes.
He said: “A total of £2.7million of Government funding has been distributed to support the care sector in our borough, including funding to support infection control measures across our homes and supported living placements which includes the appointment of additional dedicated infection prevention and control advisors.”
The funding provided will be divided up, with 75 per cent going directly to the 95 care homes in the borough and the remaining £683,670 used to support the care sector as a whole in Southend. This includes £273,468 distributed to home care providers, and a further £196,950 will help support people in supported living placements.
The remaining money will be used to fund additional infection prevention control advisors for Southend care providers and to provide out of hours escalation support.
Mark Topps, a manager at Little Wakering House, in Little Wakering welcomed the funding but said it does come with “red tape”.
“There is a lot of red tape with this, such as it can’t be spent on PPE and can’t be used to backdate many of our expenses.
“The Government said it can’t be used on PPE because at the beginning of the pandemic they had given funding for it but much of that never made it to the frontline care homes, instead it was used for emergency PPE.”
He said he is not certain how much the care home will receive yet but he plans to spend the majority of the money on infection control measures such as a sterilisation machine for dishes to ensure they are clean before they go back out.
Mr Harp added: “We have been all doing all we can to support care homes and keep residents safe throughout the pandemic.
“We opened a dedicated 13 bed, COVID-19 care unit at Priory House for care home residents discharged from hospital with a positive test result or awaiting their test results.
“This was in direct response to concerns from care providers about accepting residents back following hospital care when they could have the virus.
“We continue to progress our testing in our care homes and we have been working closely with our local provider sector, and with the NHS, to provide support and guidance.
“All of Southend’s 95 care providers have received additional supplies of PPE when they have experienced shortages, infection control guidance and training in the correct use of PPE and managing deterioration in physical conditions.”