HERTFORDSHIRE County Council will continue to offer financial support to care homes – as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have an impact.

Throughout the pandemic, the county council has reimbursed commissioned care providers for additional costs relating to Covid-19 – not covered by the government.

That has included costs associated with staff sickness, additional staffing and – where not covered by government – ‘personal protective equipment’ (PPE) and infection control measures.

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And on Monday (September 20) a meeting of the council’s cabinet agreed to extend that support until March next year (2022).

Depending on the support that becomes available from government, estimates suggest that the cost of that support could amount to between £636,000 and £2.9m.

At the meeting, executive member for adult care, health and wellbeing Cllr Stella Nash highlighted the pressures on care providers.

“Clearly the financial impact of the covid-19 pandemic on providers has been significant,” she said.

“Financial support has been given from HCC and also from the government, which has been welcomed and well-received – and we ask that it continues.

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“The care market is still very vulnerable at this point in time to this pandemic and will require ongoing support for the rest of the financial year and beyond.”

Clr Nash said the health and care system was “extremely challenged” as a result of the ongoing impact of hospital discharges.

And she said this was leading to increased social care demand and to  increasing costs.

She also pointed to the impact on demand for other adult services caused by covid.

And she suggested, ‘the whole situation will become more challenging as we progress through this financial year into Spring 2022.”

Meanwhile leader of the county council Cllr Richard Roberts outlined the steps taken to support the care sector in the early stages of the pandemic.

“We were really clear very early on in March of last year that we would support the care sector – however they needed to be supported,” he said.

“But we set out some clear principles about how we would do that.

“And in a sense this report today is a further continuance of that support for the care provider marker.”

Cllr Roberts recorded his thanks to staff and to care providers,  who he said have been working so hard to look after the most vulnerable during the pandemic.

In addition, he said he would like to thank Hertfordshire Care Providers, who he said had supported the care sector and with both messaging, courses and training.

And he said they had ensured the sector was not only financially looked after but cared for in many other ways.

At the meeting the cabinet agreed that the package of financial support to commissioned care providers for additional costs not met by the government should continue until March 2022.

According to the report presented to the cabinet, throughout 2020/21 that additional support from the county council had amounted to £12.97m.

The report also highlighted £5.1m that the county council had set aside to support commissioned care providers who may fall into financial difficulty, as a result of the pandemic.