Winter pressures information for care homes

We provide information and support to aid our care home providers in managing winter pressures.  Over the winter months a range of problems can place strains on how we deliver health and social care across the county.  Take time to read the following information and bookmark the page as we will be updating the content over the coming months.

Winter planning in Norfolk

We work with providers and Norfolk’s three acute hospitals throughout the winter period.  We are working together to help ensure timely discharges from our hospitals, whether this is in respect of your own residents or in taking on new clients for a shorter period of rehabilitation.

  • Your first point of contact at the Council for issues relating to discharges and capacity in your service is our Care Arranging Service.  Contact either Paul Gibbs (paul.gibbs@norfolk.gov.uk) or Sasha Gotts (sasha.gotts@norfolk.gov.uk) with any updates and queries.
  • We are putting in place new trusted assessor posts in all three acute hospitals who will be working proactively with you to ensure that you can be confident about being able to provide the care that will be needed following a hospital stay.  Once appointed these officers will be on hand for you to communicate with through the discharge process.  Find out more about our trusted assessor programme.
  • We have developed a simple, user friendly and freely available bed tracker resource which enables you to update our Service Brokerage (care Arranging) team on your bed vacancies as and when you have a change of availability.  For more information about the bed tracker, see below or visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/carehomevacancies
  • We are currently giving consideration to a package of financial incentives to enable the market to better support timely discharge from our hospitals.  We will be providing more information about any such scheme in due course.

Are you prepared for winter?

The following information is intended to support you deliver care and support through the winter months.

We have developed an online system called the ‘Bed Tracker’ which allows care home providers to tell us instantly if they have available beds.

The Bed Tracker form is simple and easy to use and will provide us with an up-to-date view on exactly how many beds are available in each care home.

Why is the Bed Tracker important?

Our hospitals will be busier than usual during the winter period, and there will be a higher demand for care.  To avoid a delayed discharge from hospital, it is essential that we know where the free beds are so that care can be arranged as quickly as possible.

Keeping us notified of bed availability helps keep hospital beds free for those who need them and will also help care providers to maximise occupancy rates and profitability.

How will the Bed Tracker Work?

The Bed Tracker is a simple online form to be completed when you have availability in your care home.  Our Service Brokerage (Care Arranging) team will receive the data from the Bed Tracker form and will then contact the most suitable home for the person they are trying to place.

What do you need to do now? 

Register your bed vacancy details

We understand the difficulties of operating as a care provider or working as a carer during busy periods and want to recognise that by offering some guarantees and a financial premium where appropriate.

The NHS have been coordinating the staff focused Flu Fighter programme for the last seven years, and following recent discussions with the Department of Health, the free flu vaccination is now being offered to all health and social care staff, employed by a registered residential care/nursing home or registered domiciliary care provider, who are directly involved in the care of vulnerable patients/clients who are at increased risk from exposure to flu.

Eligible staff should take identification that includes their name and the name of their employing organisation, together with a letter from their employer.  You can download a letter template from the PSNC website.

The Norfolk Resilience Forum is a multi-agency group working to manage risks and plan coordinated responses to emergencies.  They can assist your organisation with business continuity assessments and planning. Business continuity is about protecting three main areas of your business:

  • Safeguarding people
  • Safeguarding your assets
  • Safeguarding your processes

Their aim is to make you aware when there is a risk or an emergency and what their planned response would be and also to provide you with information and advice as necessary at the time of an emergency

You know your business best, and through your experiences, you know what sort of increased pressures and risks you can expect to encounter over winter in relation to staffing.  Now is the time to make sure you are adequately staffed to cover the winter period, and that you have business continuity plans in place in case of any staffing issues.  We encourage you to carefully consider your business continuity plans for the following situations:

Staff sickness

  • What would you do if an epidemic sickness hit your staff?
  • How would you still manage to cover all clients who need care?

Staff absence

  • What if a member of staff unexpectedly doesn’t pick up their usual hours over winter?
  •  Can you rework the rounds/rotas to cover?
  •  Do you have other staff you can call in to cover their shifts?
  •  Are you able to build a ‘bank’ of staff prepared to cover additional shifts?

The Norfolk Resilience Forum  gives you help and advice on developing and evolving your business continuity plans.  You can use their flu pandemic scenario to test your plan and make sure it is up to date. It will help you think about how you could manage your workload with fewer staff, whilst trying to maintain the high standards of care you offer even when you have encountered unexpected trouble over winter.

Public Health England have released a guidance poster which gives you information on what to do if a case of flu does breakout in your care home. The information provided also offers advice on how to manage and maintain infection prevention and control measures.

With the colder months approaching we would like to remind services about the need to ensure that boilers are functioning properly, and that appropriate maintenance and service arrangements are in place.

Last winter the Quality Assurance team became aware of a number of instances where boilers were out of action for a significant period of time leaving a service without heating or hot water - one of which had significant consequences for residents.

If you do experience problems with heating and hot water provision please make the Quality Assurance team aware in addition to notifying CQC.

As we approach winter we’re encouraging you, our home support providers, to look at your business continuity plans and check that they are fit for purpose – including your arrangements for staff travel.

If any of your staff do break down in their cars, particularly at this time of year, do they have the right kit keep them safe and get them back on the road?

It’s recommended that year round car essentials should include:

  • Fully charged mobile phone and in car charger.
  • Hi-viz bib
  • Road map – in case of diversions
  • First aid kit
  • Water and non-perishable food
  • Loose change
  • Umbrella or water proof
  • Breakdown service and insurance company contact details
  • Hazard triangle

In winter it is also worth keeping these items in your vehicle:

  • A coat, hat, scarf, gloves and extra warm clothing
  • A spare pair of shoes or boots
  • Shovel
  • Ice scraper and de-icer
  • Torch and batteries
  • Extra snacks (chocolate or cereal bars)
  • Extra screenwash

When the forecast is for severe weather and your staff still have to be out, then it’s good to consider packing these items as well:

  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • A flask of hot drink

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